Is Your Supply Chain Team Still Working Remotely?

Earlier this month, as reported by Katie Burke at CoStar News, UPS announced that beginning March 4 it is requiring all corporate employees to return to the office full time. Here’s an excerpt from the company memo to employees:

“We acknowledge this news comes with excitement for some and mixed emotions for others. We are sharing this update now so you can plan and adjust. We are a network company not just of logistics capabilities but of personal relationships, too. The UPS culture and our success has long been based on our in-person connections with our customers and the partnership forged from personal relationships cultivated day in and day out at work.”

As reported by Chip Cutter at the Wall Street Journal, “During contentious labor negotiations at United Parcel Service last year, union officials said drivers and warehouse staffers resented working in-person while office employees could stay at home.”

UPS joins several other large companies that are requiring employees to return to the office, including JPMorgan Chase and Boeing. 

(In another WSJ article, Te-Ping Chen reports that “new data shows fully remote employees are more likely to be [laid off] than their peers [and] they’re also more likely to quit.”)

In an October 2022 survey, we explored this topic of working remotely with members of our Indago supply chain research community, who are all supply chain and logistics executives from manufacturing, retail, and distribution companies. See “Returning To The Office: Better For Supply Chain Performance?” for a summary of the results.

In light of this recent news, we’re focusing on this topic again with our Indago members. In this week’s survey, we’re asking them if they agree or disagree that “it is unfair for corporate employees to do their jobs remotely part of the time while front-line staffers [like drivers and warehouse workers] must show up daily?”

We’re also asking them if they believe working in the office or working remotely is better for supply chain management with regards to collaboration, innovation, problem solving, employee training, and learning from peers or if they believe both are the same?

Indago members will receive the results of the survey next week. 

But it’s not too late to take the survey. If you’re a supply chain or logistics practitioner from a manufacturing, retail, or distribution company — and you’re interested in learning from your peers and taking this week’s survey — I encourage you to learn more about Indago and join our research community. It is confidential, there is no cost to join and the time commitment is minimal (2-4 minutes per week) — plus your participation will help support charitable causes like JDRF, American Logistics Aid Network, American Cancer Society, Feeding America, and Make-A-Wish.

In the meantime, what do you think? Do you currently work remotely part or all of the time? Do you believe offering remote work options is imperative to hire and retain supply chain employees, especially younger workers? Post a comment and share your perspective!