The ongoing pandemic has certainly been putting a strain on many businesses and supply chains across the globe, pressuring them to think on their feet and adjust operational models to continue delivering services and goods to customers. In the race to carry out remote working and flexible processes in a matter of days and weeks, struggling organisations could turn to and rely on their partners and suppliers that had adequate tech capacities to deliver such sweeping adjustments. However, for many businesses, the luck was not on their side.
As we enter the new year, Covid is still very much present and continues to take the toll on countries across Europe and Asia. Despite great vaccination efforts, the new Omicron variant is wreaking havoc and posing a threat to the chances of getting back to business as usual. Today’s headline news and the reality for many organisations is filled with healthcare crises, ever-changing travel restrictions, staff shortages and system failures for offshore suppliers. This means many cannot deliver the high levels of service that customers expect and require, risking relationships with them. However, businesses can overcome the pandemic-induced challenges by partnering with suppliers that can deliver the goods, and for that, they need to leverage their most valuable asset – trust.
Critical times call for a steady hand
When the first national lockdown was introduced in March 2020 in the UK, both public and private sector companies had to respond fast in order to keep afloat. For onshore suppliers, it was no different as they had to reassure their clients that they are prepared to step up to support them. With many businesses experiencing remote working for the first time, it was certainly a learning curve with its unique challenges.
New government policies and schemes, such as furlough, required HR departments to react quickly to the changing payroll rules. Having leveraged the partnerships with HR suppliers, many businesses showed resilience and kept the UK nation paid accurately and on time. Entrusting onshore providers to support them with business-critical tasks was, and continues to be, fundamental. The furlough scheme has come to an end, but flexible and hybrid working models are being demanded by many employees who have realised the value of a good work-life balance during the pandemic. Therefore, organisations need the capabilities to adjust fast to changing workplace environments and understand local legislative nuances, otherwise they could risk losing a skilled workforce.
This is where trust comes in. Trust that suppliers can take care of outsourced business operations, be transparent and communicative if changes or disruption occur. Businesses need their partners to be an extension of their internal teams, to trust they can deliver high-levels of service whilst being able to easily reach them when the need arises or the next big change comes their way.
What the past couple of years have shown is that businesses need partners and suppliers who will help them protect their reputation, especially in times of global crises. With the differences in working conditions and standards of employment laws across countries and continents, UK-based suppliers are better equipped to guarantee peace of mind for UK-based businesses, ensuring all procedures are thoroughly followed and consistent with expectations.
When it comes to brand reputation, remaining compliant with laws and regulations is not the only important thing. Today’s climate emergency is prompting many organisations to take swifter actions to become more sustainable in their practices. As such, businesses are developing their sustainability strategies and looking to partner with those who can help them achieve their environmental goals. They are looking for suppliers who can mirror their sustainability journey and share the same values to serve customers better together.
Companies that outsource within the UK also get the benefit of having face-to-face contact with suppliers. Strengthening relationships during challenging times is invaluable to ensure business continuity and great service. Regular contact helps the parties spot and address issues quicker, and provide reassurance that the ESG goals are being met and values continuously shared. This can be made more difficult when relying purely on faceless Zoom interactions across multiple time zones.
Long-term financial gains
For businesses with tighter post-pandemic budgets, the temptation could be to opt in for a cheap single source supplier. However, it is worth remembering that lower costs can be reflected in the level of efficiency or customer service that is being received. The pandemic has seen many offshore suppliers crippled and unable to function at the required levels, resulting in significant financial losses for the UK businesses relying on them.
Choosing suppliers based on costs alone might not, therefore, be the best strategy going forward. With the greater need for agility and future-proofing operations, companies should look beyond the immediate cost savings, and instead, think about which provider will help them meet their longer-term targets without compromising on quality. Often, the most trustworthy partners and resilient solutions can be found closest to home.