Maintaining Contact with Your Supply Chain While Working from Home: What Does Networking Look like Moving Forwards?

The last 12 months have had a massive impact on the working world. Much to the surprise of many, it is proven a large portion of the population can work from home with minimal impact on productivity.

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However, one thing that has taken a big hit is networking with supply chains. This is particularly true for industries currently out of action, such as aerospace, hospitality, and the like.

So, is it necessary to stay in contact with your supply chain while you are out of business? What is the benefit of doing so? And how will this impact the greater concept of networking moving forwards? These are some questions we hope to answer in this article.

What is the problem?

Lockdowns have been sprung on us at very short notice, and industries that supply people with anything but groceries have been crippled. Aerospace has suffered a big hit with a 59% decline in orders in 2020 compared to 2019. What is more, 52% of these orders were placed in January, meaning the other 7% were placed over 11 months.

So, lots of companies have shut up shop, gone home, and understandably been concerned about the future of their business. Meanwhile, many have been looking for ways to re-invigorate their business to keep themselves afloat as long as possible. This is entirely understandable, as an almost complete standstill in a once-booming industry is quite a damaging prospect for many along the whole supply chain.

But that is what it is worth remembering: every business along the supply chain has been affected somehow. Many companies are in the same boat but feel this is something they must struggle through alone. As a result, many organisations neglect to maintain relationships with others along their supply chain because there is simply nothing to supply.

How can we solve this?

The solution seems to be relatively straightforward. We will likely be feeling the pandemic’s direct effects for much of 2021, and it will probably longer before things get back closer to how they were.

Therefore, it is worth showing your supply chain some love while this is all going on and maintaining contact with suppliers, colleagues, and other networking connections. At the same time, you have potentially got some spare time to do so. After all, we all plan on going back to work at some point, so it would be nice to have some networks to go back to.

Companies should look to their supply chains as extensions of themselves. Growth for one company can mean growth for others; if we are successful, you are successful too.

This is particularly relevant in light of companies trying to re-invigorate themselves in the current conditions. Some businesses might have accepted there is little they can do, but their suppliers might have found ways to diversify their services to fit other niches that are still available. When these companies look to their suppliers for business again in the future, they might no longer be there.

Can this be done digitally?

Digital communication took great strides in 2020. We saw the Zoom boom and the wider rollout of services such as Google Meets and Microsoft Teams. But is it really sustainable to maintain communications via digital channels, as you can often lose many human elements?

In short, yes. Granted, video calling can be exhausting; we lose many of the non-verbal cues we rely upon to communicate effectively. But not every conversation has to be done via video. An email chain is often enough to check in with suppliers, see how they are getting on, and checking what their future plans involve.

This could even be a great time to put together a plan for how your companies will move forward once you have business again. You might find that staying in contact with your supply chain and seemingly going the extra mile to check up on them might result in more significant benefits in the future.

Conclusion

On one level, understandably, some companies have not thought about work much recently. If there is not any work to be done, then there is not anything to think about.

But work as a concept is arguably about more than the end product. It is also about the parts that go into that product and the teams that help make it a reality. Supply chains are a big part of that and are likely feeling as anxious as your company is. Now is the time to show your supply chain some love and see how their pandemic journey has compared.

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