When better procurement means better productivity: COVID-19 and the ‘new normal’

home working

"When we planned for potential crises, scenarios included a terrorist attack or gas explosion at our Glasgow headquarters - yet I don’t think we could have envisaged a situation where all 410 colleagues, across our five offices, were suddenly sent home. From an IT perspective, this threw up an unprecedented logistical challenge - both internally and on the client delivery side.”

Richard Harvey is Director of IT at Harper Macleod, a leading Scottish law firm and one of the many businesses whose day-to-day operations have been completely transformed by Covid-19.

Whilst Harper Macleod had previously invested in some remote working infrastructure, everyone was used to working on a dual monitor set up in the office. When the lockdown was implemented, many colleagues suddenly found themselves up against their partners or children, staking their claim to the lone household laptop.

“It became clear that many more colleagues would need to be provided with a firm computer, and quickly” Richard recalls. “Without 24/7 access to a computer, our colleagues can’t do their jobs.”

With nationwide demand for home IT equipment skyrocketing and international supply chains affected by the outbreak, Harper Macleod turned to Amazon Business, with whom the firm had already worked with for a number of years.

“Time was of the essence and different members of staff, who are spread across the whole of the country, needed different equipment,” Richard explains. “Printers and toner, wireless keyboards, paper and monitors were just some of the other items that homebound staff required to be able to do their work.”

To help streamline the procurement process, Richard and his team drew up an approved list of IT hardware and peripherals that staff could self-order themselves directly to their homes. Working with a dedicated Amazon account manager ensured the team were constantly updated about any potential supply issues throughout the crisis period.

“When you’re in the middle of the firefight we were facing, with no experience of a situation like this, everyone was extremely nervous; knowing we could rely on the procurement process to get the right equipment to the right people on time was hugely reassuring,” Richard added.

Adapting to the ‘new normal’

With companies now starting to re-open their doors, many – including Harper Macleod – will face the decision over whether all their staff return to the office full time. A Gartner, Inc. survey shows that 41% of employees are likely to work remotely at least some of the time after the Covid-19 pandemic.

This accelerating digital transformation will mean more staff needing the right equipment for home-based working. Procuring the right business supplies will be imperative to helping employers support their people, thereby keeping things running productively in this new landscape.

Aside from an increase in remote working, online B2B purchasing is surging too. McKinsey & Company’s recent survey about the response of UK decision makers to the Covid-19 crisis, reveals that preference for digital ordering methods is up by 50%, compared to traditional sales interactions.

“With remote working and demand for online procurement on the rise, we’re dedicated to helping UK businesses move forward during this uncertain period. Initiatives such as our Covid-19 Supplies store and the upcoming Amazon Business Exchange – where business owners can learn how to thrive in disruption, enable an agile workforce and streamline procurement – are just some of the ways we’re doing this,” says Dave Brittain, head of Amazon Business UK.


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