Tip for homeworkers

There are many things to take into account when you enter into a remote work arrangement.

We’ve covered quite a few factors in previous articles, and yet another tip for the home worker, is to establish genuine relationships with local businesses that can support you. This is particularly relevant if you’re working for an organisation that isn’t governed by procurement policy and approved supplier lists.

But why I hear you ask?  Everything I should need for working from home will be provided by my employer?

And yes, theoretically that is the case.  But take technology as an example.

What do you do when the IT help desk isn’t picking up your call?  When the explanation over the phone from the support team just isn’t making sense?  When you are struggling to translate the description of a thingy-me-jig to someone on the phone, who only talks tech?  When you cannot continue effectively with your work until the tech issue is fixed?

You could persist waiting for the IT help desk (and keep ripping your hair out).  You could waste hours browsing the internet for a solution.  You could fill out the procurement form and twiddle your thumbs whilst you wait for equipment to be delivered.  Or you could try calling into your local computer supply store.

One of our team tried exactly this, with impressive results.

She couldn’t wait for usual procurement channels, and instead called into a local store, to get some computer cables.  She didn’t know what type of cables to buy, but did know what result she needed to connect various bits of equipment.  The staff at her local store were happy to patiently discuss options with her, and demonstrate variations, before recommending a solution with the assurance of a full refund if their solution didn’t work. 

Impressed with the support, she went straight to the store when another team member needed an unusual keyboard.  The local store staff were again helpful, allowing her to test every single keyboard fresh out of their boxes – try doing that in a huge chain store!

She’s been back to the local store for further minor purchases, and in each instance the store staff have been helpful, advising on best solutions and sometimes advising against purchases if they think they’re unnecessary.    They’ve also made themselves available for random tech queries – nothing has been too much trouble.

Maybe they can afford to be more responsive as a small, local business.  Maybe they appreciate the vested interest in protecting their brand.  Maybe their size means they see the immediate value of repeat custom.  Maybe they better understand how a home-worker needs immediate help to remain productive.  Whatever their reasons, the team at that local store have made life easier for our team member, she’s benefitted from instant fixes and reduced lost time, and off the back of her experience, we’ve since changed our procurement process to enable all of our team to seek out local businesses wherever possible.  The cost difference to us as a buyer has been marginal but the improved customer experience (and team satisfaction) is vastly superior.

Now, if you’re working for a big corporate you’ll be limited in how many commercial transactions you can do outside of Procurement’s approved supplier list.  But if you get the option with an employer who can be more flexible on purchasing, it’s one that is worth thinking about….