Companies are searching for ways to reinvent the office and give employees reasons to return to their workplace says the focus must be on the workforce. This is not a new focus for businesses. It is a path we have been on for many years and most of its aspects are well-established, from hot-desking and remote working to new levels of employee well-being and experience. What is new is the profound transformation of the notion of work and how we work. Trends in the way we live and work have taken months rather than years to become deep-rooted – there is no going back to the old normal. Workforce preferences have changed and employers will need to lean into them to ‘win back office workers in 2021’.
Organisations will need to accept that they may never operate again as they did pre-crisis, companies realise that the ability to adapt to new and changing conditions will be essential for success. The pandemic has advanced digital transformation of businesses with the need to remote working and access to critical data. There will also be great transformation of the workplace, with the traditional office evolving to become a central hub redesigned for employee interaction, collaboration, innovation and education.
Microsoft released its Work Trend Index report which studied 30,000 people across 31 countries along with data from Microsoft 365 and LinkedIn. Specifically, Microsoft looked at what we all learned from the great remote work experiment of 2020 and how that will apply as we begin the great hybrid work experiment. Hybrid work involves being in the office sometimes and working remotely at other times, as well as having some folks working fully remote and others fully in the office.
You should definitely read the full study, but here are five things to know about the hybrid workplace.
- Watch out for worker disconnects. Forty-six percent of workers surveyed said their employer doesn’t help with remote work expenses, and 37% say their company is asking too much of them right now. If you feel satisfied and thriving, you’re probably a millennial or Gen X male. If you feel you’re just surviving or struggling you’re probably Gen Z, a woman or a frontline worker.
- Your youngest workers need more help making meaningful connections. Gen Z was found to struggle the most with engaging in meetings and calls in the past year. Pay a little extra attention in helping your 18-25-year-old employees be heard.
- You’ll need to widen the network. This time, I mean the personal network, not the bandwidth. While immediate teams grew closer when working remote, they became more siloed from other teams in the same workplace and that reduced innovation. When lockdowns eased in places like New Zealand and South Korea, even hybrid workplaces saw those siloes start to fall.
- Don’t lose the authenticity. Seeing people’s home offices, kitchens, children and pets actually helped improve productivity. Microsoft said 30% of people say they’re more likely to be their real self at work in the future and 31% feel less embarrassed if their home life shows up in their work somehow. People who felt closer to their coworkers reported higher productivity.
- You have a wider pool of talent. You may not want to restrict that. The switch to remote work has opened up jobs to new applicants. An analysis of the LinkedIn Economic Graph shows women, Gen Z and those without a graduate degree as the groups most likely to apply for remote jobs.
There are a lot more insights in the Microsoft report, but as we face another changing workplace situation, this kind of data can hopefully help you meet the new challenges in the form of innovation and technology. To find out how you could lead your business into this new phase of working, why not speak to one of our business consultants about your business financials software. As finance takes up a greater role within business planning and leadership, isn’t it about time you got your own financials in order.
Images taken from the recently published article here: microsoft.com/…rk-trend-index/hybrid-work
With the latest announcement, businesses need to be able to adapt quickly to enable remote working and keep their businesses functioning smoothly, even if you’re not all in the same office. Most employees have had to adjust to a work-from-home environment again, and many of them are having to do so with their spouses and children in tow.
For finance, this remote work environment, combined with a troubled economy is even trickier. Finance departments are doing some of the most critical and challenging remote work in order to keep the business operations running smoothly. But their unique issues are often overlooked by how to make the business at large more productive and collaborative.
Although thought of as a backend function, Finance teams are on the front lines of the business now more than ever before. Along with customer service teams, they hear the financial distress of their customers firsthand. The effect that this alone can have on team morale can be significant.
As finance leaders continue to embrace their new normal, they not only need to lead a high-performing, remote finance function but also find ways to boost team morale.
Working remotely brings it own challenges so here are five areas worth focusing on.
Empower your employees to be confident decision-makers
Giving your employees more authority, trust, and flexibility in their remote working environments can pay dividends. Start by evaluating key finance processes for common bottlenecks and find ways to streamline.
Payment extensions are a good example of this since they often go through an upstream approval process. In a situation like this, consider whether you can empower employees to become decision-makers during the negotiation process up until a designated threshold.
Not only will this remove unnecessary bottlenecks and save time, but it can also contribute to higher productivity, greater confidence, and professional growth for your team.
Look for creative ways to scale your team
For smaller, two-to-three person finance teams, bandwidth can feel challenging in traditional environments. In a remote environment, it can feel overwhelming.
As Chief Financial Officer, helping your team become more scalable is critical. Here are some ways you can build a more scalable remote team.
- Automate your dunning and reporting as much as possible. On average, one collector can handle over 300 accounts with a manual dunning process. If the process is automated, they can handle over 1,000.
- Develop more meaningful training resources. Look for ways you can build out more resources and training processes for your team. Video recordings and finance playbooks are great assets to make readily available to your team.
- Consider utilising contractors for short-term goals. If budget allows, outsource smaller, more time-consuming projects. You’ll free up your team’s capacity to focus on higher-value, more rewarding work.
Be a beacon of light in a dark time
During challenging times, finance teams have to have challenging conversations. You’re going to have to guide your team through some really tough situations. Avoiding surprises is generally a good thing, so give your team frequent updates about your bad debt expectations, DSO changes, and collections forecasts.
Spend more of your 1:1 time debriefing your employees and preparing them for what’s ahead and how to handle different scenarios. Consider building out a playbook for how to engage with customers and successfully navigate through different situations.
Feeling connected and rapid learning is important, so be sure to hold regular, virtual group meetings for the team to share experiences, insights, and best practices with each other.
Above all, make team morale your top priority. Now more than ever, CFOs need to be the finance team’s champion. Keep an eye on your team’s big wins, and find ways to call out individuals for their great work while celebrating the team as a whole.
Use data to gauge performance and morale
Take a closer look at the metrics you use to track the team’s performance, individual team members, and their productivity. Do they still make sense in the current environment, or do you need to make appropriate adjustments?
For example, right now many customers are struggling to pay their bills. This not only affects the performance of your company but also the performance of your finance team. Look at your portfolio as a whole, and then look at 30-plus days past due as a percentage of the portfolio. What number can you live with as a past-due percentage? Some folks even target the overall portfolio’s percentage of invoices past 60 or 90 days.
Then, update your team’s performance targets based on these adjusted percentages to better track individual performance against the new portfolio-wide target.
It’s also important to remember that during tougher times, regular 1:1’s and weekly meetings should remain your primary focus. These ongoing touchpoints and communication methods will allow finance leaders to gather the most reasonable data around their team’s performance and morale.
Remember that empathy matters most
Lastly and above all, empathy matters. Not only is your own business likely struggling right now, but so is your customer’s customer and their customer. As a CFO, your top priority is keeping attuned to the feelings, challenges, and circumstances that your team and customers are going through, and then looking for ways to guide them through the uncertainty.
As humans, we’re biologically wired for connection, which can make the remote life even more challenging. Make it a priority to look for ways to celebrate small wins or personal achievements with your team. Encourage them to take mental escape days or establish a weekly meeting-free afternoon to help them catch their breath.
One of the positive outcomes of this pandemic has been the great lengths that individuals and organisations have gone to in order to connect with one another. As a CFO, keep looking for ways you can help your employees and customers in the spirit of generosity—and not worry solely about ROI.