A hybrid office scene shows remote working equipment including a laptop, lamp, desk, files and stationary.

Streamlining IT procurement in a remote working world

The last two years have seen the world of work change dramatically. With digital transformation accelerated and new working processes hurriedly adapted, we’re all navigating a new business landscape.

As part of understanding the changes, we surveyed SMB professionals across Europe about their experiences of remote working before and during the pandemic.

Our survey tells us that, before the pandemic, 58% of respondents worked in the office full-time, with 36.5% either hybrid working or working exclusively from home. The pandemic changed this landscape significantly, with only 21% working from the office and the number either working from home full-time or in a mix of office and remote working doubling to 73%.

This new world of hybrid working leaves procurement managers with a headache: who is responsible for sourcing, buying, managing and maintaining the equipment that people need to do their jobs effectively and productively?

Who has responsibility for IT procurement?

The EU Framework Agreement on remote working offers little clarity. It says that employers are responsible for providing, installing and maintaining equipment - unless employees use their own equipment.

Across Europe, our survey revealed that over 80% of employees think that their employer should provide a printer or scanner for working from home. But fewer than 25% of respondents had either provided for them.

Indeed, three-quarters of employees working from home told us that they were using a printer they'd bought themselves either before or during the pandemic - and almost 60% were using their own scanner.

This leaves businesses relying on a random selection of equipment sourced - often in haste, to ensure business continuity - outside the guidance of a procurement policy.

Managing your equipment purchases

When submitting equipment purchases as work from home expenses, there's always the risk that some will have spent the minimum required to get the job done. But there will also be a number of employees – both at home and in the office - using equipment, acquired via the regular IT procurement channels.

In this scenario, the fact that some machines will be a better fit for the task than others could lead to a disparity in performance in both equipment and employees.

Home-workers equipping themselves outside of the procurement policy also raises the question of who carries the cost and keeps track of print volumes and supplies orders? The decentralised buying of devices and consumables as work from home expenses adds to a business' administration burden, as do any costs/risks arising from malfunctioning or maintenance of equipment.

So how do businesses streamline that procurement process?
A man is sitting in his hybrid office working remotely from home. He is reviewing a document printed from a Brother printer.

Taking control of your IT procurement

More than ever, businesses have to carefully assess what equipment their team uses and consider how they make procurement policy decisions on equipment for all workers regardless of their location. This becomes particularly difficult to manage when employees are using a diverse range of personal machines.

In order to avoid the pitfalls that come with staff using their own equipment, we would advocate a strategic procurement policy that enables all devices to be installed, monitored and managed remotely. But if the thought of decentralising your document management processes sounds complex and scary, don't worry – there is a solution.

Managed Print Services makes IT procurement easier

Streamlining the procurement of equipment across multiple locations is made easier and more cost-effective with the benefits of a Managed Print Services  (MPS).

Rather than trying to manage budgets and resources across multiple locations and a diverse range of equipment, MPS provides consistency and transparency by monitoring every printer in your fleet- regardless of its location and optimising your print infrastructure to deliver best value.

Plus, MPS reduces work from home expenses - responding to automated consumables alerts, dispatching ink cartridges as they are needed - whether that's to your office or direct to individuals at home.

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