The industry is changing; white-collar workers are increasingly performing their duties from home, helping cut costs and aiding productivity. However, any company looking to implement remote working into their long-term strategy must consider asset management.
Small Biz Trends explains that 70% of US citizens will likely work remotely in some form or another by 2025. The pandemic last year forced the company’s hands in terms of allowing people more autonomy by working from home, but the result hasn’t been an outright disaster; instead, many big players have realized the inherent benefits of such practices. Not only does it result in reduced costs, such as office space and utilities, it also creates an opportunity to take advantage of skills from elsewhere in the country.
In terms of employers, asset management is not just the management of people but also their company-owned items such as laptops, vehicles, and cell phones. With workers onsite, these assets can be accessed at any time, but to do so remotely is not quite as easy. At the basic level of asset management, team building is a core issue, as we explained in our article ‘Build Remote Technology Teams in 3 Steps’, but that really is only part of the asset management strategy a company of remote workers needs.
One issue that remote working flags up in asset management is the classic ‘personal vs. work issue’ debate. An employee will not usually be expected to use their own computer for work purposes, but it may be unavoidable. For instance, if the work computer suffers a malfunction, but the employee is required on a Zoom call, why wouldn’t they use their own machine? That said, a company should avoid the temptation to expect such things to become commonplace. Managing a PC or laptop off-site is not impossible – sales reps are a prime example, and depending on the working strategy, facilities can be put into place for regular checks during scheduled office time.
Procurement is another aspect of asset management that has been impacted by remote working. However, asset procurement need not be adversely affected by remote working. By implementing the right systems, it can carry on unhindered. The key here is to ensure your team is on board with any new processes, so communication and mindset are vital. If you can get your procurement team on board with the right processes, then the only challenge is changing people’s outlook, not the physical implementation of asset procurement.
It might be said that fleet management for remote workers is not essential since a fleet, by definition, is away from your site most of the time, but that is only a fraction of the problem. You may be working remotely but still need access to a vehicle, for instance, if you are a rep for a company in a different state to the company base. Fleet management is defined in a Verizon Connect article as ensuring optimal utilization, fuel consumption, and vehicle maintenance. This is usually achieved via a tracker, which is standard, but you will still need someone monitoring the fleet use. Most companies do have fleet management already in place, which may be suitable to take over the remote worker’s fleet too.
The big problem that faces companies offering remote working is tracking: tracking devices, monitoring work patterns, and managing accordingly. In the literal sense, tracking physical assets should not be a problem in the digital age – most devices will have GPS (phones) or some other form of tracker fitted as standard, much like vehicles. Using tracking software is a bit different. A smaller business can see when Excel is in use, but some may feel using a time tracking tool, such as Time Doctor, is a suitable way to go.
Maintenance of Inventory of Assets
A lot of asset inventory is done remotely, in theory, even before the shift in working patterns. How often would inventory be updated and the asset be present at the time? If we’re talking about something physical like a phone or laptop, it is most likely out in the field rather than at a specific location. With the right software in place, and accessible to those who need it, asset inventory is managed as easily as any other aspect of remote working. Coupled with a good tracking system, asset inventory should not be affected by remote working patterns.
Repairs and Maintenance of Assets
In remote working, repair and maintenance may seem a challenge; but it’s not. Repair and Maintenance can also be done remotely with a properly established network of pre-designated vendors. If the company doesn’t have a vendor at the location the team member is based, it can find reliable ones at a time when a need arises. For the primary repair step, a team member can be assisted by email or phone call. With all these, we don’t require team members to connect at a physical location for asset maintenance or repair.
Remote working shouldn’t create many problems for a modern, digitally aware company. Physical assets can easily be tracked and managed. Perhaps that should be standard at bigger companies anyway; software licenses etc., need to be monitored whether people are onsite or not. Essentially, most asset management works as if it were remote – items are in different buildings, on other floors, and the difference between that and being in a home is negligible.
As for managing people’s assets, a good company should already have a strategy in place for that, as we’re 18 months into the ‘new world’ as it were. The important thing is to remember that people are assets, just as much as laptops, vehicles, or cell phones. Once you have grasped that, you should be fine.
Piece specially produced for ajackus.com
Produced by: JBurkhart