3 Essential Practices for Finance Teams Working Remotely

working remotely

With the Coronavirus outbreak, the world of work completely changed overnight. More than half of the planet’s population is on lockdown to prevent the spread of this deadly virus. These restrictions are forcing a significant number of employees to work from home. While some of us have well-equipped home offices, many are trying to come to terms with this new working environment while dealing with the distractions of families.

Although, for technology-driven companies, this change wasn’t drastic. It was more about simply putting their planned crisis strategy into practice. At this end of the spectrum, teams are enjoying their flexible working schedules. However, this new way of working is turning out challenging for teams and enterprises that lack digital maturity.

The situation is more pronounced for financial teams as they tend to be less digitally transformed—in comparison to IT. With a lack of proper communication and collaboration tools, these teams are likely to feel lonely or distracted in their home offices. Their preferences towards menial processes and offline reporting through spreadsheets are further going to affect virtual productivity and routines.

How do you ensure that your technophobe teams embrace more digital working? How can you prepare your organization for large-scale remote work, so that your enterprise continues operating smoothly? Here are some recommendations.

1. Ensure Effective Communication With Your Teams

Compared to the actual workplace, home offices don’t give that sense of identity and connection to your organization. Teams don’t get to see each other the way they used to, and they spend most of their time alone, which leads to the feeling of being isolated and depressed.

One of the ways to overcome this challenge is by beefing up your communication technology options. Instead of merely communicating through emails, consider video conferencing technology that gives you teams visual cues and gives a feeling of face-to-face conversation (like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting, etc.).

However, video calls aren’t enough to keep your teams engaged and maintain a productive work culture. Take out some time for casual conversation with your teams, organize friendly competitions, share resources on work-life balance, and cultivate a habit of giving and receiving regular feedback from each team member.

Make sure to communicate frequently to check in with them on a personal level so they have a sense of belonging to your organization and its values. It’s a good idea to openly communicate about what’s happening with your business during this crisis and what it means for teams. This clarity from leadership helps in removing the stress of uncertainty from your team members.

2. Trust in Your Teams and Set Clear Expectations

Remote work culture will only succeed if you trust your teams to be productive, even if there isn’t enough visibility into their day-to-day operations. Lack of trust often leads managers to micromanage everything and employees overworking to prove that they’re getting the job done.

When your teams feel that they aren’t trusted, you risk damaging their productivity even further. You’ll soon find these members looking for opportunities where they feel respected. “Remote-work success depends heavily on whether you trust employees to do their work even if you can’t see them,” says Aaron McEwan, VP of Gartner.

To avoid this situation, set clear goals with measurable milestones. Do you want them to send work reports every day, or send a weekly digest? Or, is there a clear set of deliverables your team members must achieve within a specific time frame?

When you communicate these requirements, your teams have clarity on what is expected out of them. Instead of focusing on the number of working hours, give greater emphasis on output as that’s what remote working is all about.

3. Invest in Technology Tools That Promote Collaboration

One of the most significant barriers to effective remote working is the lack of proper technology infrastructure that fosters productivity and collaboration. Your finance teams are most likely using proprietary tools for planning, budgeting, and forecasting.

These disconnected tools offer little to no collaboration opportunity since there is no centralized access to data they can trust when working from different locations. There isn’t even a tool that facilitates collaboration while meeting information security and regulatory compliance.

Instead of working on gaining new insights, your valuable resources have no choice but to rely on erroneous offline data and spend most of their time doing manual, repetitive work.

To succeed, start investing in cloud-based productivity tools that allow your finance teams to harness data from across your business, automate repetitive tasks, and provide access to actionable insights through advanced analytics.

Power BI is one of the most efficient tools for different business units to organize business data, while ensuring data security and role-based access controls. The tool essentially allows your finance teams to consolidate large data sets, run powerful data analysis, and get instant insights through interactive charts and graphs to make critical financial decisions.

With access to such a collaborative platform, your teams will spend less time juggling with data and more time partnering with you in decision-making.

Simply investing in these employee-facing technologies won’t bring productivity gains you’ve been anticipating. You’ll need to do the heavy-lifting to encourage the utilization of these tools by communicating best practices, demonstrating use cases, and setting up progressive policies to drive better and more consistent usage of the new technology.

“Organizations shouldn’t be feeling less collaborative or fearing a decline in productivity when they have access to the Microsoft 365 suite of tools and the Power Platform. From Microsoft Automate, Power BI, Teams, and Power Apps, organizations can create a digital workspace to improve productivity and collaboration—and remove the feeling of isolation. Based on recent reports, it is clear that enterprises are increasingly implementing and adopting Microsoft 365 tools and that digital workspaces are here to stay.” – Yusuf Shariff, Collectiv

Is Your Business Ready for the Post-COVID Era?

A recent Gartner survey of 317 CFOs reveals that at least 5% of their workforce will move to permanently remote positions post-COVID. Gartner also predicts that by 2030, the demand for remote work will increase by 30% as Gen Z fully enters the workforce.

More than 60% of today’s professionals say they can work anywhere, and remote work policies are common for them. The trends point that by the time our world recovers from this pandemic, remote work will likely become the new normal.

Does your finance team need additional support while navigating this new work culture? The Collectiv team is happy to share some BI guidance…just reach out.

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