The pandemic revealed that remote work was not only possible, it was productive. And it was appealing to employees. They leveraged the Great Resignation to keep on working remotely, or at least working on a flexible hybrid schedule. Remote and hybrid work had benefits for employers, too, who downsized their offices and reduced overhead. It was a win for everyone.
Now that employers and employees have what they asked for, how is it working out?
The results are mixed. Although 83% of employees want a hybrid workplace, a recent report from JLL Global Research found that hybrid workers don’t feel properly supported in their new workstyle. The open office design is not optimal, particularly for staffers who come to the office expecting to do focused, heads-down work. Some find hot-desking to be problematic. For others, information access is a problem; teams on flexible schedules have difficulty sharing documents and other print resources, especially when those documents are removed to home offices.
Managers and administrators are tinkering with adjustments to office layouts and scheduling apps, but some technologies, digital document technology in particular, are proving their value in companies with hybrid operations.
In one example reported by the Washington Post, a construction company discovered that hybrid work gave them a competitive advantage. The company “had never considered a hybrid or remote model for the 40-plus back-office employees … But when the pandemic hit, the company adapted, jettisoning cumbersome workflows that required staff to pass files around the office, and adopting a streamlined cloud provider.”
That new information flow has allowed the company to expand their operations from a single urban region to a multi-state territory. Moreover, not one employee has been lost to the Great Resignation. The Washington Post doesn’t specify the dollar value of increased sales and reduced hiring and training costs, but the benefits are apparent.
Any unplanned change takes time and testing to work out the kinks, and pandemic-pushed hybrid workstyles are no exception. Your business, like others, may be trying out a variety of imaginative solutions – mandated in-office days, more enclosed offices, or one of the many workstation-scheduling apps. But document digitization needs no trial period to prove its worth. Ask a business owner who has moved from paper to digital operations, then talk to a digitization professional. With digital document technology, you will solve one of the hybrid-operations conundrums – information access – and set your business up for future success.
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Inflation is the hot topic these days. A perfect storm of bad weather, a pandemic, armed conflict, and supply chain breakdowns have put a price squeeze on consumers and businesses alike. There’s plenty of blame to go around, but finger-pointing isn’t a solution. Instead, smart business leaders are looking to their own operations for ways to mitigate inflationary pressures.
One of those solutions is technology, in the form of better information, increased efficiencies, less waste, and speedier actions. RFID technology in particular addresses these needs, and it’s a tech solution that already exists in many operations. From logistics and retail to healthcare, pharma, public safety, and education, RFID counts objects and tracks their movements with unmatched speed and accuracy.
Here’s how RFID combats inflation:
- Accurate information – RFID’s inventory accuracy approaches 98%, far above any handcount. With accurate information, over-ordering is eliminated, saving time, storage space, and money at a time when conserving funds is exceptionally important. With RFID, a pharmaceutical manufacturer, for instance, doesn’t have to contract for extra warehouse space and over-order in case their inventory isn’t accurate.
- Increased efficiencies – RFID tracks supplies from manufacturer to storage to user, creating an early-warning system for potential stock shortages. Managers can adjust their order timing to account for uncertain supply chains, keeping adequate supplies on hand for operations at all times. Hospitals, for example, can keep a steady supply of medications flowing from their in-house pharmacies into the hands of patients.
- Less waste – RFID provides aging information as well as quantity and location. Whether a business is working with perishables like foods or drugs, or longer-lived items like durable equipment, using operational inventory in a timely manner prevents waste. Return on inventory investment stays high, and inventory losses (and costs) stay low.
- Fast actions – RFID is constantly monitoring an inventory’s quantity, location, and age and delivering actionable data. Managers can react quickly to any opportunity, whether it’s incoming supplies or outgoing products.
Inflation is, in part, a consequence of actions out of our control. RFID puts you back in charge of the things you can control. Use its data to manage better, and stand up to inflation.
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If you work in logistics, you know all about the piles of paperwork that accumulate with any shipment. And with all that paper come the inevitable slowdowns when a document is missing or damaged, and has to be re-created. Supply chain slowdowns are a hot topic, and paperwork is part of the problem.
According to an analysis by IBM and shipping giant Maersk, nearly 200 documents were generated for a single shipment of flowers from Kenya to the Netherlands. Each document – bills of lading, Statements of Fact, and an array of certificates – represents a potential bottleneck in the smooth flow of shipments. In an industry where timeliness matters (and really, are there any industries in which time isn’t of the essence?), paper documents are a threat to business.
Digitized documents are now beginning to reduce the mountain of paper that accompanies shipments. One test of logistics digitalization, including digitized documents, reduced the usual 2-week border clearance to one day – an extraordinary improvement.
The logistics sector isn’t the only one seizing the opportunity for more efficient paper management. Government agencies, healthcare, public safety, and the legal system are all benefiting from document imaging, or digitization – converting paper documents to digital ones. Digitization creates “smart documents:” a database of secure, searchable digital documents accessible from anywhere.
Digitization speeds up operations in two ways:
- The correct digital version of any paperwork can be located and retrieved with electronic speed. No more long delays spent digging through files or archives.
- A document’s digital version is securely stored. It doesn’t disappear under a desk, or get damaged by insects, or become illegible due to a spilled cup of coffee.
Digitization has other benefits besides operational speed and efficiency. It reduces the need for storage space, as it eliminates the needs for numerous filing cabinets. It is accessible from anywhere, whether an employee is on another floor in a building, or working from home. It cuts down on physical paper usage and the associated business and environmental costs.
But if time is critical to your business, document digitization is guaranteed to save time in retrieving documents, and in preserving documents safely for future use. With digitization, your ship will certainly come in.
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Authenticity. Whether we’re buying for our businesses or ourselves, we trust that what we’re receiving is the genuine article, the real deal. And if we discover that the purchased item isn’t authentic, we will never trust that brand again.
And trust can make or break a business. A recent Harris Poll found that if Americans learned that they had purchased a fake product, 73% would stop buying from the company that sold it.
Often the brands themselves are unknowingly caught in the same web of fakery. It’s challenging for them to protect themselves from bad actors. Labels and packaging can be fraudulently duplicated, genuine raw materials can be hard to distinguish from fake ones, artworks can be cleverly copied to look just like the original.
But there’s hope. RFID is playing an ever-larger role in the area of authenticity guarantees. Provenance, a word originally associated with fine art, has come to mean the origin of any item with an unbroken chain of custody through its journey from manufacturing to consumption. The unique identity information contained in RFID tags ensures the provenance of an item.
Recent counterfeit-fighting applications include:
- Legal documents with RFID embedded in the paper. These prevent the presentation of fake property transfers, licenses, and permits.
- Live fish with tiny internal RFID tags. The tags ensure that inferior fish are not mislabeled as high-value ones.
- Wine corks with embedded RFID tags. These provide a “digital birth certificate” proving that label on the bottle matches the wine inside it.
- High value wood and wood products with embedded RFID tags. These prevent $400,000 guitar bodies and $500,000 violin bodies from being made with cheaper wood.
RFID has revolutionized retail and supply chain management, business to business commerce, and manufacturing and logistics. Now it’s supporting brand trust by guaranteeing authenticity. If you’re in the business of manufacturing and selling indisputably genuine products, add RFID to your process and be confident that counterfeits will be exposed.
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