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Is “working from home” the new normal? We don’t know. But we are seeing the global economy undergo a radical shift in routine work culture. Whether you’re a start-up with employees living down the street, or a major corporation with teams set up around the world, if your business wants to scale, digital transformation is inevitable. Many companies supported some level of remote work even before the COVID-19 crisis picked up pace, however, with the abruptness of the current transition to full-scale remote work, businesses are now facing challenges they have never seen before.
Thankfully, tech firms around the world have been forward-thinking in their approach. Solutions to cater to the current complex demands of a remote workforce are already in the market. For example, Beanworks, an AP automation solution, and expert in remote work technology has been providing accountants with digital controls and flexibility to collaborate with teams, clients and vendors across borders.
There’s no denying that remote work culture is here to stay and it is not only going to impact the future of our work, but the future of living as well. Companies that are fastest to evolve will have the competitive edge over others. According to LinkedIn, 72% of talent professionals agree that work flexibility (which includes remote work options) will be vital for the future. As businesses evolve to adopt this work culture, here are five tips that will help them get ahead of the competition:
Prioritize Collaboration and Communication
Under a remote setting, internal communication is key to ensure productivity and sustain a normal workflow. As a standard practice, your company should already have a crisis communication plan that lays out tools, techniques and official channels of communication. How is information being delegated across departments? How is misinformation being debunked?
Leadership teams can survey departments to collect feedback and sentiment on effective strategies and overlaps. This makes decision-makers aware of the pain points and helps them create a collaborative environment that prioritizes open communication and support. Communication tools such as Zoom and Slack are particularly useful to accomplish this goal. These are easy-to-use and most of them integrate with other productive tools such as Google Drive and Asana. Practices like daily morning huddles can also be highly useful in highlighting blocks impeding progress.
Let’s not forget communication and collaboration go hand in hand. The right collaboration tools will help your team get more done in less time. For example, Monday, a project management system has a highly visual interface, with customizable workflows facilitating effective team collaboration. Other project management tools such as Trello have purposely been designed for remote teams, enabling collaboration and transparency, so you can effectively meet project deadlines and stay on the same page while working remotely.
“Zoom has been especially helpful for our team as we can still see each other and ask questions or for help in real time without having to wait long for a response.” – Natalie Petkovic, Senior Bilingual Customer Support Specialist, Beanworks
Invest in the Right Tech Stack
While working from home has been offered as an incentive to employees for quite some time now, companies often lack the technological infrastructure to support this at a large scale. The good news is, technology companies around the world are releasing innovative solutions and special services to fast-track the digital transformation. With tools like video, audio, online collaboration, and file-sharing software, businesses can ensure remote teams have an engaged and productive work experience.
If your business is now functioning with a full-time remote workforce, certain departments might have taken a severe hit. Automation tools can help keep mission critical operations, such as accounting, running smoothly during disruptive times. In light of the current COVID-19 crisis, several tech firms are offering services at minimal or no-costs to help businesses, especially those that have taken a financial hit, recover fast and better. In solidarity with such endeavours, Beanworks has offered to waive monthly fees and setup charge for new customers. With no initial fees, the team is giving financial teams around the world, full access to their tools and features, including faster implementation and customer-support. Understandably, in the current climate, the demand for an automated solution is high, but barriers such as costs should not hinder businesses from taking the leap.
“Messaging and meetings tools such as Slack and Zoom have been a life saver!” – Joey Glazer, Sales Manager, Beanworks
Training Employees on Remote Technology
You may have the right tools in place but are your employees trained to use them? From lack of collaboration tools to lack of training, organizations are scrambling to keep their workflow running without any hiccups.
It is crucial to keep communication lines open. Daily check-ins and access to online resources can ensure your team does not feel isolated. You can designate an online communication line or (Slack) channel that caters specifically to technical difficulties. You could maybe publish daily tips, introduce a new feature/tool everyday, or hold online training sessions through Zoom for those that need training or help.
“Integrating with the team via the tools we’re given access to – from important meetings and phone calls with customers to conversations with colleagues – has never been easier while working from home. Still feels like I’m in the office!” – Shawn Heeren, Sales Development Representative, Beanworks
Ensure Compliance and Security
While businesses are swiftly jumping on the “install-new-technologies” bandwagon, it is critical to keep IT security and compliance in mind. Remote work can give rise to security breaches. Using home computers, external outlets, and various service providers, can potentially pose security risks if IT policies and measures are not up-to-date. Sensitizing remote teams about the challenges will help your business from becoming a victim of cybercrime. Think about how your remote teams are accessing business applications? Are they using personal devices, company laptops, or third-party devices?
Keep in mind, with borderless teams, there is now sensitive data moving outside the physical office across various devices. Several security provide cloud backup solutions that cover backup needs for remote and in-house employees.
Having access to the right applications is critical for business continuity. Businesses can also employ an identity and access management solution to give remote employees with the appropriate access to technologies without compromising on security. According to the 2019 IBM Security report, the worldwide average cost of a data breach is USD $3.92 million. Businesses cannot afford to discount security measures that will help them mitigate security risks.
“Such a rapid change of the corporate working environment is a gold mine for cyber criminals, and they are actively coming up with new schemes to exploit it. Companies need to ensure they don’t lower their bar around IT security and policies. This is the time to review them and ensure they are up to date, as we are not sure how long will this situation continue, two weeks, two months or longer.” – Reza Sanaie, Chief Technology Officer, Beanworks
Reinforce Company Culture
With the current crisis, the way some companies operate has changed overnight, putting company culture, leadership, and routine work experience to the test. Collaboration and morale support is particularly paramount at this time. How are companies ensuring the mental and emotional wellbeing of employees? Are businesses being empathic, accommodating and compassionate while setting project demands? How are coworkers communicating with each other to keep the team spirit up?
When you are sharing a physical work space, it becomes easy to connect with each other, but in a remote setting this is a major challenge. HR teams can introduce inventive ways to encourage informal discussions, for example, a fun game, survey, well-being tips. Simple, fun activities can help promote a positive company culture. A positive culture could flourish and multiply across departments, but if gone wrong, it could leave the workforce feeling detached or distant from company values.
“The value of being ‘All Together’ at Beanworks has particularly come forward at this time! Everyone comes up with ideas to ensure everyone has what they need to work from home efficiently and make it seem like we are still together in the office!” – Aliya Jinnah, People & Culture Specialist, P&C
“I would say that the most seen value so far has been ‘All Together’. Everyone is really banding together to help each other out no matter what we have on our own plates. Team work makes the dream work!” – Natalie Petkovic, Senior Bilingual Customer Support Specialist, Beanworks
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