How government agencies can modernize sending and receiving to respond to COVID-19 and prepare for the future.
COVID-19 continues to impact the way in which state and local employees conduct the business of government. According to a recent Pitney Bowes survey, 94 percent of government respondents said some portion of their workforce was still working remotely as of June 2020.
Most government agencies have developed plans for continuing their work during a disaster like COVID-19. However, “one piece of business continuity that governments often overlook is mailing and shipping,” says David Bilodeau, director of global product marketing for Pitney Bowes.
Yet mailing and shipping is a critical piece of government work. According to a survey prepared by The Colography Group for Pitney Bowes, local government entities send out approximately 76 million pieces of mail and packages per month. Even during a global pandemic, tax bills, court summons, and other important documents need to be mailed to constituents.
Employees working remotely do not have access to mailing centers to either send or pick up priority documents and packages. Therefore, government agencies must think creatively about how to continue to send and receive mail. During COVID-19 or future disasters, government organizations need a plan in place to ensure their extensive mailing and shipping practices can continue seamlessly, even when employees are not physically in the office.
Government agencies can turn to a variety of technology solutions to continue sending and receiving even when working from home. For example, Pitney Bowes offers Intelligent Lockers that provide government employees a space to securely deliver, store, and collect parcels. Employees receive alerts on their mobile phones with information about when and how to pick up packages. Because staff do not need to sign documents or touch any screens, they can quickly and safely retrieve important materials. This type of contactless experience is especially critical now to protect the health of employees. Intelligent Lockers also interface with receiving software like SendSuite® Tracking Online that track a parcel’s entire chain of custody, ensuring secure delivery.
A variety of cloud-based software solutions can also help government employees send important materials safely and efficiently from home. Pitney Bowes’s SendPro sending solutions enable employees to print discounted postage and shipping labels across multiple carriers from any location. The software solutions offer rate comparison across carriers and services, helping users make the most cost-effective sending choice. They also include analytics tools to help agencies understand their mailing and shipping expenses and optimize their operations to make the most of their budget.
These cloud-based solutions also offer additional services like electronic Return Receipt (eRR), which help agencies create, track and store Certified Mail® Return Receipts without manual work or paper. Users can access Return Receipts digitally from any location, including their home offices, for up to seven years. The digital receipts are eco-friendly and reduce costs, saving mailers $1.15 on every piece of Certified Mail.
COVID-19 highlighted the need for disaster recovery plans related to mailing. Bill Walter, national director of government at Pitney Bowes, argues, “governments need to prepare for the unexpected. What if their mailing facilities are damaged, or employees cannot go into the office? They need plans in place now for the future.”
Agencies can prepare for the unexpected with outsourced printing and mailing services, like Pitney Bowes Mailstream On Demand. With this solution, organizations send mailing information digitally to Pitney Bowes. Pitney Bowes then prints and assembles all materials through a state-of-the-art mail production center and then sends the mail through their exclusive Presort Services network. Agencies can choose whether to use Mailstream on Demand all of the time or to keep the service on retainer in case a future emergency threatens mail continuity.
Not only are cloud-based solutions easy to access from any location, they are also adaptable. Agencies can easily make updates to a cloud solution in response to unforeseen changes in the future.
“Solutions need to be flexible when preparing for the unexpected,” explains Walter. “A cloud environment provides that flexibility.”
It is critical for government agencies to have disaster recovery plans for their mailing and shipping processes in place before a disaster strikes. During any unexpected challenge — be it a global pandemic or a weather event — government agencies will need to focus on several critical issues. Having a mailing and shipping plan in place means agencies can focus on more critical and immediate issues related to serving their communities.
“When a disaster or interruption hits, you will not have time to hunt for solutions,” explains Walter. “You need a plan in place beforehand.”
By turning to cloud-based software to automate mailing and shipping processes and using things like Intelligent Lockers and smart sending solutions, agencies not only improve their current sending and receiving practices, they also ensure those practices will continue in the face of any future crisis.
Learn how to future proof your mailing and shipping by speaking with a Pitney Bowes expert today.
Looking for the latest gov tech news as it happens? Subscribe to GT newsletters.
This content is made possible by our sponsors; it is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of e.Republic’s editorial staff.