The Summer of Procurement

“I will taste the fruits and let the juices drip down my chin.” – George Constanza, Seinfeld (Episode 156) 

As the kids get set to return to school—whatever form that will take—we cannot help but wistfully look back on these past summer months, wondering where time has gone and what lies ahead.

Will we be returning to the once familiar office routine, or will we remain remotely connected and independent? It is hard to say what the remaining months of another remarkable—and not necessarily in a good sense—year holds in store for us. However, one thing is sure: our lives as procurement professionals have forever changed like the rest of the world.

So, with much uncertainty still before us in which there are more questions than answers, let’s take a few moments to talk about the highlights of this soon-to-pass summer and how it will influence our return to the office.

People Returned to the Ballpark

Baseball is the national pastime, and what makes it special is sitting in the ballpark on a summer afternoon, cold beer in one hand and a bag of peanuts in the other. Is there anything better than this?

I can only imagine how refreshing it was for the players to ply their trade in front of real people instead of cardboard cut-outs. Having fans in the stands somehow makes watching the game on television better as well.

Much like the professional ballplayers, procurement professionals have been plying their trade in the proverbial empty stadium that is remote working.

Other than the occasional interruption by our kids saying they are hungry during a Zoom call, we have generally led an isolated existence. The question is whether returning to the office will make our game better. 

Around the Campfire

Have you ever sat around a campfire at the cottage, sharing a few laughs with close family and friends after an activity-filled day of swimming, boating, and fishing?

When the pandemic hit, get-togethers like this were suddenly gone. Now that we are heading back to work physically, will the watercooler once again become the campfire around which we gather to talk about the day and days ahead?

According to a study by McKinsey, 29% of people indicate that they will “switch jobs” if their employers force them to return to the office on a full-time basis. However, returning to the office may actually be better for you as there are many benefits of in-person interaction, including building (or rebuilding) interpersonal relationships. In short, being able to talk with people who are doing and experiencing the same things as you make you feel like you are part of a team rather than flying solo.

See You In September

Like the lyrics of the famous song that go, “Will I see you in September, Or lose you to a summer love,” returning to the office may be very different from what you had experienced before the pandemic.

Putting aside for a moment questions about mandatory vaccination and the use of “creepier” artificially intelligent driven video chats, the Washington Post reports that the “social bubble will come to the office.” In other words, adjusting to remote work has changed us, and privacy in the workplace will become the norm.

Based on the above, except for wearing sweatpants or pajamas all day, our summertime remote working experience will likely, to a certain extent, continue even if with the commute to the office.