How to Defeat Remote Work IT Shipping Costs
May 31, 2023
I recently spoke with a Gartner analyst who covers end-user computing. He noted that they’re getting a lot of calls these days from IT teams who are getting eaten alive by shipping costs as part of supporting remote workers and are looking for a solution. In this blog, we’ll explore why shipping costs are so high when supporting remote workers, and how to overcome them.
Why are remote work shipping costs on IT teams’ radars?
Back in the days of campuses and office buildings, IT equipment shipping costs were largely invisible to IT— shipments were palletized and costs of delivery to an office facility were included in bulk purchase orders.
Now, with remote work, shipping costs are incurred on a per-employee basis, coming straight out of the IT budget as a distinct line item instead of being hidden in the original purchase budget. With the inflation we’ve all been experiencing, boy are things getting expensive!
Our data (heartily endorsed by the aforementioned Gartner analyst) is that it is easy to spend $100 per year per remote employee just on shipping costs.
Part of a larger (and very costly) remote work IT support picture
So now that IT teams are paying attention to the cost of shipping, what else should they be taking into account? First and foremost is the significant expansion in IT staff time required to support remote workers. Why is this so much more costly in terms of staff hours? Let me count the ways:
- Picking, packing onboarding kits, retrieval kits
- Filling out shippers and getting stuffed shipped
- Tracking, receiving, expense management
- Email round-robins when things don’t go right with shipments
- Oh, and actual IT configuration work
Yep, it’ll cost you about 5 hours of IT staff time annually to support each remote work employee. Remember that an average IT staff person has maybe 1500 hours of productive work time per year, so at 300 remote employees, you’re spending a full-time staff position on this.
The other major hard cost is lost equipment. Everyone is or knows someone who has experienced laptop abandonment post employment. One colleague told me that his laptop stand is the five laptops that their previous employers never collected. If you have a few hundred employees or more, you’re likely losing tens of thousands of dollars in equipment each year, no joke.
It’s difficult to improve remote work efficiency
It’s actually rather difficult to reduce shipping and other remote work IT costs on your own. Unless you have a logistics-heavy business, volume discounts won’t have much impact. Furthermore, the efficiency of every logistics motion performed by an IT team member is going to be low because it’s not what IT people are trained for. Moreover, IT teams weren’t ever built to collect equipment, so retrieval rates will likely remain challenging.
But the picture gets worse, because if you try to solve this on your own, you may end up with a pyrrhic victory. We’ve spoken to customers who tried to build an awesome and efficient process internally and consumed nearly half of all their IT resources doing it. This is a colossal misdirection of strategic energy towards logistics when IT value is best realized by innovating new products and services.
How to defeat remote work IT shipping (and other) costs
The way to defeat remote work IT logistics costs is get IT out of logistics altogether. Turn off IT logistics work, and turn on digital employee self-service, cloud automation, and outsourcing.
That’s exactly what Firstbase does. We built the industry’s first and leading platform for equipping remote workers, by fusing a global physical operations service with SaaS automation and digital employee experience. Firstbase handles the whole employee equipment lifecycle from onboarding through offboarding, from replacements and repairs to technology refreshes. The Firstbase service includes all logistics work and shipping costs, procurement assistance, end-user support, delightful employee and administrative automation, and HRIS integrations.
Firstbase has global facilities, specialized personnel, volume logistics and supply chain relationships. We are operational experts, so we excel at delivering fast, on-time onboardings and other needs, while retrieving 95%+ of remote work IT assets.
The Firstbase service is offered as an annual platform subscription plus an annual service action plan, and delivers huge savings. In most cases, Firstbase will come in at 1⁄3 of the cost of in-house staff, logistics, and lost IT assets. For organizations from 100 to 1000 employees, savings ranging from tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars per year are routine. For larger organizations, the savings get far more impressive.
Take this to your CFO
Efficiency is very much in style these days. If you have any significant set of remote employees, your CFO would love to find ways to save on supporting them while delivering the best possible employee experience. Request a demo to learn more.