Seven things we’re celebrating from 2021

While this year has certainly been filled with challenge and uncertainty, it has also been a period of incredible growth, transformation, and inspiration for many of us here at OfficeTeam.

And as we gather to reflect on the past 12 months before setting our Christmas ‘out of office’, we’re brimming with pride over everything we have achieved as a collective – from our position on the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) Tail Spend Solution Framework, to significant investments into our industry-leading procurement tech. We’ve got bold ambitions for 2022, and we’re feeling optimistic about what’s yet to come. But first, let’s take a look back, together…

Industry-first innovations

As organisations started to embrace a flexible working culture in the wake of the pandemic, 90% of our customers reported concerns over spiralling supply costs. Our agile response saw the introduction of an industry-first subscription service that not only offered to make the lives of employees easier – ensuring they had everything they needed to fulfil their day-to-day role – but also creates efficiencies for organisations who are finding themselves increasingly inundated with expense forms as staff purchased their own, non-approved workplace consumables.

Fast-forward nine months, and the ability to automate purchasing and maintain full expenditure visibility through our self-serve Business Guest Checkout functionality is just as crucial, as Government restrictions are reintroduced across the globe. And while we’d rather the circumstances were different, we’re really proud to be able to offer such a crucial service to our customers in this time of need.

A focus on growth

The successful and significant acquisition of Office Depot’s UK and Ireland contract arm saw the onboarding of fresh knowledge and expertise to bolster OT Group’s extended range of workplace solutions and business services.

While the unification certainly wasn’t without it’s teething problems, we successfully transferred 3,800 accounts onto a new system in just three months, with service levels above 98%, and have since earmarked a robust action plan to enhance the customer experience even further.

Wider investments

From one milestone to the next, our proceeding investment into the future of the business saw the relocation of our flagship distribution hub to Ashton-under-Lyne in Manchester – a 275,000sq ft site that considerably augmented our warehousing capabilities, with a capacity to hold 18,000 pallets and over 22,000 products under one roof.

Not only did this transition serve to consolidate our operational footprint – with the integration of our Smethwick and Leicester sites into one central location – it also spearheaded the company-wide reset we’d all been waiting for, offering the opportunity to realign processes, rebuild company culture, and reboot the organisational strategy.

A fresh look and feel to the brand

Along with growth comes natural changes to the service we provide, to ensure a continually enhanced and coherent experience – in line with our Paragon parentage – while driving best practice across our range of products and services.

To support this mission, and to improve efficiency for our customers, an incredible behind-the-scenes effort went underway to deliver a fresh website interface that was not only easier to navigate – with a comprehensive breakdown of our range of products and services – but also reflected our new brand image. This launch marked another crucial milestone for the brand, and we’d love to hear your thoughts on the transformation!

Crown Commercial Service (CCS) Supplier

Perhaps one of our proudest achievements this year is our recent appointment to the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) Tail Spend Solution Framework, which aims to simplify the supply chain, consolidate deliveries, and provide complete financial oversight.

Under the agreement, our industry-leading digital procurement platform, SmartPad, will enable Government departments to maintain full control of expenditure and allow users to order pre-approved products in a fast, easy to use manner.

The appointment involved a rigorous application process – including endorsements from some of our key clients – and we’re looking forward to developing this strategic partnership further, to demonstrate our ability to supply public sector organisation with anything they need, with a complete management function.

Disrupting the procurement tech marketplace

While many other organisations have been cutting budgets, we’ve made significant investments to help supercharge our customer’s growth throughout 2022.

Coinciding with the platform reaching its 10,000th account and 100,000th user milestone, we launched the third iteration of SmartPad at the beginning of this month.

The tool is more customisable than ever – with budget setting, approval rules, and cost centre

management, to suit even the most complex of procurement frameworks – and includes hero

features to champion our existing service in helping eliminate barriers to our customer’s strategic

growth. These include custom print solutions, configurable furniture ordering, repeat deliveries, products chosen specifically for their CSR credentials, business intelligence for dynamic reporting, user-defined logins for the increasingly flexible workforce, and marketplace price benchmarking.

Bolstering this service, we’ve also recently partnered with industry-leading manufacturer and wholesaler, Beeswift, to bring 8,000 new workwear and PPE solutions – from face coverings and sanitizers to off the shelf signage and safety screens – to suit the needs of every workplace.

A focus on responsible business

Of course, we’re incredibly proud of everything we have achieved this year, but we’re also really excited to continue building upon our CSR credentials throughout 2022 and beyond.

Our partnership with NHS charities together – which aims to raise vital funds via SmartPad – and our support of social and environmental strategies through brands such as Wildhearts are just a handful of examples that we’re keen to enhance.

We’re also working hard to build upon our sustainability credentials – so our customers, the communities we work in, our staff, and our planet can thrive – including delivering on the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are weaved throughout our business operations.

We’ve got bold ambitions for 2030 – including achieving a carbon neutral lifecycle through our development of carbon net zero products, services and deliveries, and ensuring zero waste-to-landfill across our supply chain through defined recycling initiatives – but we’re ready to get stuck in and take these ideas from pipedream to a deliverable that can and will be achieved.

There’s been little time to slow down as the year draws to a close, but we thought it was important to take a moment of reflection and celebrate how far we’ve come as a business this year.

And there’s plenty more where all that came from! Bring on 2022.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from everyone at OfficeTeam.

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