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Staples Survey Shows Purchasing Departments Need to Keep Pace with Rise in Telecommuting

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The overwhelming majority of employees believe telecommuting is good for both themselves and their company, but most organizations are not budgeting appropriately for telecommuters, according to a recent survey of procurement officers by Staples Advantage, the business-to-business division of Staples, Inc.

Two-thirds of those who responded say they do not take telecommuters into account when planning their organization’s purchasing budget. The result is a lack of consistency in telecommuting purchasing, including which products are purchased, who is purchasing them and how much is being spent.

“For many companies and employees, telecommuting makes good business sense,” said Neil Ringel, Executive Vice President, Staples Advantage. “However, if organizations don’t budget accordingly and provide appropriate oversight, there is significant risk for rogue spending and inconsistencies in the tools provided to telecommuters. Organizations can reduce their overall spend with up-front planning, streamlined purchasing and procurement oversight.”

More than half of the procurement professionals surveyed – 59 percent – purchase products for telecommuters, while 33 percent say telecommuters purchase products out of their own pocket. Less than half of those procurement professionals work for companies that provide reimbursement.

Telecommuters most often request office supplies (44 percent), technology products such as keyboards and monitors (17 percent), Internet and phone service (16 percent). They also request IT services, furniture, copy and print services and cleaning supplies. There is an opportunity for procurement to negotiate better prices for goods and services in these categories to maximize savings.

To maintain consistency and oversight of telecommuter purchasing, procurement professionals should consider the following tips:

  • Ensure all telecommuter purchases are routed through procurement.
  • Provide a budget for telecommuters to purchase needed items and services.
  • Establish standard catalogs or product lists that are pre-approved for telecommuters.
  • Provide standard start-up kits of items and services when employees begin telecommuting.
  • Have a clear understanding of their company’s pool of telecommuters, recognizing that the percentage is likely to rise, which means they should plan for and budget accordingly.
  • Develop comprehensive reporting to better measure expenses against budgets.

Staples Advantage helps organizations consolidate their procurement processes across the organization. Measures commonly taken include collaborative budget building, educating on purchasing trends, creating custom catalogs and core item lists, all of which empower organizations to ensure consistency and gain full visibility into their expenditures. To learn more about how to purchase for your organization, please visit: https://www.staplesadvantage.com/shop/sahome?storeId=10101

About the survey
Staples Advantage conducted a survey of more than 200 chief procurement officers, procurement vice presidents, directors, managers and category managers representing a variety of industries – manufacturing, finance, education, government, healthcare, hospitality, insurance, retail, and utilities. Full executive summary with more detailed findings can be downloaded here.

About Staples Advantage
Staples Advantage, the business-to-business division of Staples, Inc. (Nasdaq: SPLS), serves organizations of 20 or more employees up to the Fortune 1000, helping them make more happen with more products, greater cost savings and improved ordering efficiencies. Staples Advantage provides its customers, including global businesses, local, state and federal government, healthcare organizations and educational institutions, with a one source solution featuring comprehensive products and services like office supplies, technology, printing, promotional products, furniture and facility supplies, along with a customized level of account support and best-in-class customer service. More information is available at www.staplesadvantage.com.

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