During A Recession, Office Inventory Management Can Make the Difference


Companies of every size and industry sector are feeling the economic effects of the coronavirus. For most, that requires tightening the budget, identifying where easy cuts may be made, and doing everything possible to minimize the human impact. Office inventory management is one such area where companies can make meaningful improvements that save money.

COVID-19 and the Economy

Research conducted by JLL, a professional services firm specializing in real estate and investment management, shows that “an unprecedented economic expansion of more than a decade has been matched by an equally unprecedented economic, social and public health disruption in the form of COVID-19.” JLL found that Q1 occupancy was minimal after a record 2019, and leasing dropped below 50 million square feet for the first time in Q1. Companies are grappling with how many employees to bring back to the office, how to situate them and whether they should be exploring the option of more remote working arrangements for their respective workforces. Of course, they’re also challenged with how to hang on to their current customers and attract new ones at precisely the time when they likely have fewer resources – financial, human and otherwise -- to do so.

Why Does Office Inventory Management Matter Now?

What kind of difference can office inventory make to a company’s bottom line? While estimates vary, small businesses are estimated to lose an average of $40 billion each year to employee theft. Office supply theft comprises only a portion of that total, but when company budgets already are stretched thin as they are now, even a fraction of that total could be enough to put a company at economic peril.

The factors that contribute to office supply theft include poor monitoring – for example, leaving supplies in unlocked cabinets where they’re accessible to everyone. When the economy is lagging and there’s fear about looming job cuts, that’s another scenario in which office supply theft is more likely to occur. Employees may be increasingly cynical, fearful and/or resentful and thus more likely to view office supply theft as justified. It’s worth adding, too, that theft isn’t the only reason that companies fly through their office supply inventory. Employees lose items, and without any controls over your office inventory, they simply go grab another one from the supply room. Before long, your office manager is placing yet another order to replace lost items. This problem is even more pressing when assets are leaving the office with remote workers.

An office inventory management system is an easy-to-implement, customizable way to get a handle on your supplies to eliminate waste and theft. The system gives you the means to track exactly what you have and where it should be located and set up custom notifications when supplies need to be replenished. The system allows companies to examine their office supply use across the board, identify where cuts may need to be made or where waste may be occurring.

In conjunction with an office inventory system, a best practice you may consider is to elect a gatekeeper – for example, your office manager -- for your supply room. An employee who needs supplies will need to go through the gatekeeper to get them. You might consider locking your supply room and requiring employees to get the key from a designated employee; and/or requiring employees to log the supplies they take in the office inventory system.


Courtney Roush

Courtney Roush is a freelance writer, editor, and communications strategist with 25 years of experience. Her favorite discipline is crisis communications – and it’s a highly relevant one in our present times.

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