There is no way around it: home workers are here to stay. All the activities that take place in an office have basically been moved to the employees’ most personal surroundings, their homes. For a logistics service provider, it often also means that the planners are largely working from home. Which makes it a good thing for them to be using a TMS for everything: fewer mistakes will then be made.
The signals we were picking up were variable: the switch to working that way was easy for some but trickier for others. Easy in the sense that the ability to work from home is already provided for in the IT infrastructure, but awkward in the sense that it's not the way it’s usually done and that people can only log into the work environment while at the office. The net result is that it's harder to keep providing your services properly and that your role as a logistics service provider may grind to a halt, at least temporarily.
So there are a few things that you have to set up properly now, as home working is going to be the norm for a while, unfortunately.
First of all, it's important that your ICT infrastructure is properly adapted to home working. Think of accessibility, monitoring and security, for instance. How can people log in on a digital work environment such as the transport management system? Do they use a secure connection such as a VPN? Is the software accessible from anywhere and are your employees' connections secure? Many companies simply took the decision in recent weeks to tell people to work from home. Fair enough, but it's not possible for every company just like that. Take a good look along with your IT department at how you can set this up so that it is secure and accessible, providing everything your staff need. The answer often involves working in the cloud. If you haven't taken that step yet, now is a good time. But do bring in experts who can set it up securely. Data breaches can turn up in surprising places!
The main thing we notice in the transport management software market is that many TMS systems are outdated, not only in terms of the look and feel but also the technology. And when the technology ages, it also becomes more susceptible to cybercrime and dysfunction. That's something you always want to avoid. So take a good look at your TMS and ask yourself whether it still fit for purpose, particularly in the current situation, and whether it fits in with your IT infrastructure.
Not everyone will necessary be able to work well from home from the get-go. In technical terms you need an Internet connection and hardware, but there are also ergonomic issues: a good desk, a good office chair and so forth. The measures you put in place at the office now need to be done for the home workers, helping them create a good working environment.
Zoom calls, Google Hangouts, Skype –whatever: software to let you work together with your colleagues. There are plenty of options for collaborating online, but making agreements about it is perhaps even more important. Agree a moment to start your virtual day, at half past eight in the morning, for instance, and for rounding off the working day. It gives you a chance to get updates about the ins and outs of various projects and your colleagues will know who they have to go to with their questions. It also brings structure back into the working day.
We are intrigued to know how logistics service providers like you are managing to work from home and what other issues you are coming up against. Let us know via firstname.lastname@example.org and then we'll see how the information we’re getting from the market can be reflected further in our TMS, helping make the transport world a bit more efficient again!