E-commerce is having the unintended effect of placing additional burden on the mailrooms and receptionists of businesses, as more and more parcels are delivered to workplaces than private residences, writes Stephen Darracott.
Businesses of all kinds are finding themselves struggling with inbound package volumes these days. Five years ago, most of your employees never gave your mailroom a second thought. Today, personal parcel delivery at work is becoming a critical issue for employees and employers.
Your mail problem is about to get bigger
Across Australia, the parcel shipping market grew by 8.8 per cent, the most recorded growth in the Asia-Pacific region. By 2020, parcel volumes are expected to swell to 1.3376 billion, according to the latest Pitney Bowes Parcel Shipping Study.
But it’s the impending Australian e-commerce revolution that will put even more pressure on Australian workplace mailrooms and employee expectations.
There’s been much discussion surrounding Alibaba and Amazon, two of the world’s biggest online marketplaces, coming to Australia. In the next few months, they will both open Australian operations, making online purchases quicker and easier for thousands of products.
The interest from shoppers in Australia is already big: according to Hitwise, a company that measures search behaviour and trends, searches for “Amazon” have jumped 93 per cent in Australia since July 2016 as shoppers await the arrival of the marketplaces.
Know the risks of stopping personal deliveries
But even without Amazon and Alibaba, the amount of employee parcel deliveries in Australian offices is soaring.
According to the 2016 Pitney Bowes Online Shopping Study, 88 per cent of Australians shop online and about half have packages delivered to places other than their homes.
For employees, finding the time to shop is scarce and many retailers and parcel delivery outlets close at 5pm. E-commerce delivered to your office seems like the best solution.
But the amount of packages generated has forced some businesses to stop personal deliveries at work.
If you know someone who works in an office with no employee delivery rights, you know what a controversial issue this is. Employees even reroute deliveries to the offices of friends and family to get around the inconvenience.
The following three key factors are the driving force behind the need for employees to ship purchases to their office:
1. Parcel theft and missing deliveries
A national study of more than a thousand Australians found that greater than 50 per cent had experienced a problem with parcel delivery last year.
These issues included receiving a delivery notification “even though someone was home at the time of delivery” (24 per cent), “unreasonable delay” (23 per cent), “a missing parcel or failure to deliver” (14 per cent) and “the parcel being left in a vulnerable position” (11 per cent).
These complaints were not limited to a single carrier.
2. Limited parcel delivery
Most carriers deliver parcels between 7am and 5pm on weekdays and have limited operating hours on Saturday.
These restrictions and lack of widespread alternate delivery options force employees to leave work to pick up a package or face the possibility of having their package returned or go missing.
3. More time on the clock
Finally, Australian employees want packages delivered to their office because they are working more.
The Australian Institute’s latest study of full-time Australian employees shows workers say they work an average of five hours of unpaid overtime weekly.
According to a Robert Walters’ survey focusing on high-performing teams, 53 per cent of people are engaged in their jobs when they feel they have a good work/life balance.
Perks like parcel delivery at work help satisfy the need for flexibility and makes people feel like their employer is trying to equalise that balance.
Flexibility is more important than you think
With record-low wage growth across Australia, employees rely on non-financial factors and lifestyle perks, flexibility and technology when looking for a new job.
According to a study on cultural fit in the workplace, 70 per cent of employees choose their job due to non-financial, “cultural” indicators including workplace flexibility.
Employers need to consider these benefits to keep their employees and maintain satisfaction in the workplace. The cost of replacing employees can be as much as three times their annual wage, so top employers are increasingly looking to small, modern lifestyle benefits like office deliveries to add incentive.
Can your business manage corporate AND personal parcels?
Despite the practical and emotional reasons behind employees having parcels delivered at work, companies are wary of the high volume of deliveries they may receive.
Employers should rethink their technology to easily provide this added value for employees.
In most offices, inbound parcels are manually recorded and sorted for delivery. Parcels may even be delivered desk-to-desk or require messages be sent notifying employees their delivery has arrived.
This takes time and manual labour. It means lost productivity and the need to store employee packages in limited space.
Technology can make parcel intake, sorting and employee pickup quick and easy. Mailrooms can scan the parcel in, triggering an email to the employee asking them to retrieve their parcel immediately. Business essential parcels and employee parcels will be sorted for better storage.
This simple perk doesn’t cost a fortune or increase your mailroom footprint and staffing. It’s much better for productivity than an employee arriving an hour and a half late because they had to pick up a package during business hours.
Inbound parcel solutions can be SaaS-based, hosted or an on-premise solution. Choose the one that gives your company the most flexibility and be sure to research the technology, data integrity and data security.
You may also want to consider using heavy-duty, hand-held devices when receiving packages to speed up the process.
This technology won’t just bring efficiency. When it comes to what makes employees happy, data from the 2016 National Salary Survey shows 73 per cent of Australian workers say their office is too slow to adopt the latest technology.
Making the investment to control the flow of employee parcels with the right technology is a small price to pay for office efficiency, productivity and the happiness and work/life balance of your employees.
Stephen Darracott is the country manager for mailing and shipping at software provider Pitney Bowes ANZ.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.