- The USPS has struggled with sustainability issues for years.
- A 10-year fiscal plan began in October that includes price hikes and longer delivery times.
- Many coworking and flexible workspaces offer mail handling solutions that may be affected by the increased costs and delivery times.
It’s no secret that the US Postal Service (USPS) has struggled for years to remain relevant and competitive despite the decline of “snail mail” and a plethora of private companies like DHL, FedEx, and UPS all vying for market share.
Now, a new 10-year plan to make the embattled agency sustainable will raise prices and reduce the speed of delivery for many zip codes, the very reasons many would-be customers used more expensive companies in the first place.
While the USPS is a government agency tasked with the essential job of delivering mail across the United States, it “generally receives no tax dollars for operating expenses,” according to its website, “and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.”
Until October, the Postal Service promised to deliver a piece of first-class mail anywhere in the continental United States no longer than three days. It’s new service agreement stretches that delivery time from two to five days, according to The Washington Post.
Coworking Centers and Mail Handling Services
With many workers embracing remote work during the pandemic, the use of coworking and flexible workspaces is on a meteoric rise. Many workers and companies that embrace flexible and hybrid work depend on mail handling services offered by coworking spaces and virtual office companies.
These workspaces offer different mail plans for flexible and hybrid workers. Mail can be forwarded daily, weekly, and monthly. Many centers offer digital scanning and daily alerts as well.
The news of increased delivery times and price hikes by the USPS may cause companies that offer business solutions like mail handling for remote workers to search out new ways of getting mail to their clients in a more cost-effective and efficient way.
Time is already of the essence as many flexible workspaces sort thousands of items of mail by hand before forwarding it to clients.
Allwork.Space spoke to Alexis Lloyd, Community Manager at Nexus 1201 Executive Suites in Atlanta, in July 2021.
“The biggest day-to-day challenges would be how time-consuming the mail process can be with so many clients,” said Lloyd. “We overcome this by creating methods and plans to help us stay organized and get out the mail efficiently, and we are always brainstorming to find ways to tweak and improve our methods to make it run faster.”
USPS Changes and Possible Implications for Coworking Spaces
Business centers and coworking companies that already offer mail handling – or plan to do so in the future – will need to monitor the changes at the USPS and how it will affect the process.
Possible outcomes of the USPS’ 10-year plan for these operators include:
- Increased automation for faster mail delivery
- Changes to types of mail handling services offered and frequency
- More digitization of mail handling services
- Price increases for mail handling services for remote workers and digital nomads
- Hiring of additional staff to process mail in a timely manner
- Scaling back virtual office address services that include mail forwarding.
Coworking spaces and other companies that offer mail services will also need to evaluate their virtual office address offerings. In addition to desk space, some flexible workspaces also sell virtual office addresses that may include some mail handling service plans.
Depending on the volume of mail and number of virtual office address clients that need these services, coworking space operators may need to implement one or more of the outcomes mentioned above—like scaling back virtual office services or hiring additional help.
Massive financial losses lead to USPS systemic overhaul
The former president appointed Postmaster General/ CEO Louis DeJoy not long before the 2020 elections, and DeJoy oversees the USPS along with a bipartisan governing board. DeJoy introduced the 10-year plan to help shore up financial losses as the pandemic exposed even more systemic and logistical challenges than already expected.
The USPS lost more than $3 Billion in the most recent quarter, and DeJoy hopes the new plan, along with possible alternative revenue sources like check cashing, will help make the agency solvent and profitable over the long term.
DeJoy’s appointment to the USPS and performance on the job has been controversial since the beginning. He is a former GOP political fundraiser who has donated millions to Trump and the Republican Party. He came under the investigation of the F.B.I. in June 2021. He has denied any wrongdoing or illicit contributions.
The USPS is piloting a current check cashing program in several locations.
While the price hikes and longer delivery times – especially for first-class mail – has sparked criticism from business owners and postal experts, some have praised the check cashing services. They claim it offers more access to financial services for traditionally underrepresented groups.