The future of work is hybrid - here are 5 things finance leaders need to consider
After a year of telling their normally office-based teams ‘to work from home if possible’, many accountancy firms and finance teams are keen to see what happens next. For some employees, the WFH experiment has been awesome. Freed from the grind of the daily commute, they’ve had more time for family, exercise, side hustles and sleep!
According to many experts, productivity levels have also increased. But some workers have struggled to juggle the demands of work and home life. Lack of suitable workspace, Zoom fatigue and social isolation may be very real issues for many of your employees.
In addition, some companies have concerns around creative collaboration, mentoring and developing new talent if everyone’s working at home. For all those reasons, many believe the future of work is a hybrid model. Many companies have already made such announcements; Salesforce for example expects at least half of its employees to continue working remotely after restrictions ease.
That chimes with the latest McKinsey research, where 52% of employees said they would like their organisations to adopt more flexible hybrid virtual-working. This model, where employees are sometimes on-premises and sometimes working remotely, involves trusting people to plan their workday and work from wherever they can be most productive. That might be home, central HQ, local hub or co-working space.
What are the benefits of hybrid working, and what are the challenges?
Many believe hybrid working is the way forward because it combines the best of both worlds. It allows people to be hyper-productive when they’re working from home (or wherever they find it easiest to focus on deep work). But it also gives opportunities for teams to come together and be hyper-collaborative. Adopting the hybrid model also massively expands your potential talent pool.
However, there are challenges in making hybrid working a reality. It’s a big shift in the way workplaces are designed and it takes a lot of planning and co-ordination to get it right. There are also some concerns that it will create a two-tier workplace with an ‘in-crowd’ and an ‘at-home’ crowd, which could be divisive.
5 ways finance leaders can help their teams transition to hybrid working
Set expectations, get the culture right and lead by example
Moving to a hybrid working model will involve big changes for many of your employees. Choosing the right technology and flexi office space will help you to optimise communications, productivity and collaboration. But the most important factor is getting the culture right.
Presenteeism is out of the window. Leaders need to trust their teams to design their own workday and focus on output and achievements. Avoiding an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality is also critical and teams will need to bond through frequent communications – both formal reviews and informal conversations.
Communication is the secret to making hybrid work a success
Hybrid workers need two things to thrive and they both boil down to good communication. The first is effective technology that makes keeping in touch and collaboration as easy as when two colleagues sit side by side. The second is that policies and procedures will need to be effectively documented and transparent. You can’t just assume people can find out what they need to know by asking a colleague down the corridor.
Use technology to work smarter
New technology is now available to help your teams collaborate and work smarter together. AccountsIQ’s collaborative accounting software, for example, allows your finance team to capture, code and authorise transactions in real-time, while collaborating with other departments or companies in your group. They can quickly and securely raise POs by dept and budget holder or approve POs and invoices remotely with the click of a button.
Stay safe and secure
Data security is one of the biggest fears employers have about home or remote working. It’s certainly an issue that needs to be taken seriously, but there are numerous, well-tested ways to mitigate the risks. The most critical factor is to ensure your hybrid working teams are all aware of the importance of data security and the need to be extra vigilant when storing or sending data remotely.
Ensuring all your suppliers and business partners have a culture of taking data security seriously is also a must. At AccountsIQ, for example, we have top tier data hosting sites in the UK, Europe, USA and Australia. For UK customers, data does not leave the UK.
Our financial management SaaS (and the hosting sites) are independently penetration tested by PwC UK. This ensures there are no “holes” in the application that would allow malicious attacks or unauthorised access. Data is protected behind three layers of firewalls and all data going in/out of the system is encrypted.
Support employee wellbeing
The benefits of improved productivity, team morale and employee mental health can make hybrid working worthwhile for many organisations. But, many studies have also shown that some home workers can feel isolated and unsure of who to turn to if they have problems or questions. At AccountsIQ, we have a dedicated customer support team and we’ve recently set up AIQ Academy, our e-learning platform, to ensure our customers always have someone to turn to for help with any product or technical issues.