In 2020, it is becoming more common for a company to offer employees the opportunity to work remotely. Whether a position is remote full-time or on a part-time basis, the flexible working environment is a popular benefit employers are promoting when hiring for roles. In a recent survey, 62% of respondents said they work remotely at some frequency while 49% said they work remotely on a full-time basis. The ability to be and remain flexible has proven to be necessary these last few weeks as the world is experiencing a global health crisis in the wake of COVID-19.

During this time, procurement professionals are having to adapt to the ever-changing landscape surrounding supply chains while still managing to fulfill their job duties. Local governments in US are starting to issue "stay at home" orders to try and limit the amount of people out in the community which means companies have started mandating employees work remotely.

What if, on top of all of the changes surrounding the nature of their job, those employees are also finding themselves thrown into a new working environment? It's a stressful time and one that appears to be our new normal for the foreseeable future.

Here at Una, we've embraced social distancing and our teams have been working remotely from home for the past few weeks. We did a little crowdsourcing and compiled a list of tips from our staff members to help get our fellow procurement professionals through this period, and hopefully make the transition a little less taxing.

Conduct a spend analysis

First things first. Conduct an analysis of how you're spending your time while at home. How many hours are you required to log every day or week? Do you have the right equipment at home to do your job sufficiently? Maybe you're sleeping in longer because you don't have to run out the door in the mornings or working late into the evenings to get caught up. Many of us are also finding ourselves home with our spouses and children, with everyone trying to stay occupied and on task.

All of these factors will come into play and now is a great time to flex those time management skills. Once you have a good understanding of how your days flow, you can identify any inefficiencies and adjust your time accordingly, which you may find makes you even more productive

Optimize your strategy

You know the benefits of a great procurement strategy are to reduce cost and add value so we recommend taking the time to optimize your work-from-home strategy as well.  Kris Lance, Una's Senior Director, says it's important to, "schedule your day the night before to ensure you start the next day with purpose. Set your alarms and treat the day like normal as if you were heading into the office." 

Your comfy couch looks enticing but is it the most conducive to being productive? Una's Senior Sourcing Advisor, Cindy Rittel, recommends setting up an actual work station and investing in a decent office chair to get you through the day.

Other tips for making the most of your work-from-home strategy include:

  • Schedule breaks (and actually take them!) to help keep you focused.

  • Get dressed. Pajamas are life, we know, but getting semi-ready for the day will make a big difference.

  • Get outside, take a walk and get a breath of fresh air when you can.

  • Set your environment: light a candle, play background music, open the windows.

  • Stay hydrated!

Stepping away from your work every now and then will leave you feeling re-energized and ready to tackle the rest of your day. Self-care is important as well, don't forget to drink water and set aside some time to exercise to keep your body healthy and mind sharp.

Curb your tail spend

While you adjust to working from home, make sure to limit any distractions so you’re not spending too much time on things outside your normal job requirements. This is tough, especially if you're sharing a workspace with a someone else or have little ones running around, but eliminating other time sucks, like the television or social media, could prove beneficial.

Five minutes on social media may not seem like a lot of time here and there, but if left unmanaged, that could easily turn into a half hour or more of mindless scrolling. Before long, you’ve learned a new TikTok dance instead of turning in your RFP.

Manage relationships

Remember those new co-workers of yours? Your spouse and children, roommates or other family members and friends? They're adjusting to change, too, so it's important to set their expectations. Communicate what you need from them and be open to accommodating their needs. These days, thanks to technology, it's easier to feel connected even when we're apart. Set up a group chat or virtual happy hour and check up on loved ones.

Have an open dialogue with your boss and keep them informed of any issues you may be having. If you manage a team, they may be looking to you to lead them through this period of uncertainty so be sure to have regular communication with them, too. You will all get through this together.

The suppliers you normally work with are most likely experiencing their own challenges as well. Check in with them and foster those relationships now more than ever.

Empower your inner hero

Lastly, just know that you've got this. You know how to do your job, whether it’s in the office under normal circumstances or at home while trying to socially distance yourself and - quite literally - protect humanity. Give yourself grace as you get used to this new normal, and extend the same courtesy to others as they adjust.

If you need assistance, don't hesitate to reach out the resources available to you. Many companies are offering free or discounted access to their services during the outbreak. As a group purchasing organization, Una is in a unique position to help, as well. Our advisory approach is key when it comes to identifying cost-saving solutions that every sourcing hero can appreciate. Our role is to make you feel empowered so you're able to successfully continue doing the job you were hired to do, now and always.

If you're wanting to learn more or need to talk to a Sourcing Advisor, contact Una today!

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