Changing expectations among employees and an increased emphasis on workplace wellbeing means more employees now expect flexible and hybrid working as standard. Despite not being a new working practice, many organisations are still not prepared or equipped with the right technology to offer remote working as an option. If businesses fail to provide these working options to employees, they risk the chance of losing talented team members and will struggle to recruit from the wider talent pool.
There will always be jobs requiring on-site work, of course. Fork-lift drivers are of no use when they are at home and security guards can’t do a patrol of a premises remotely. But other roles, however, have always been carried out in the office not because people need to be in a certain place physically, but because the infrastructure and technology they require is inflexible – this problem must be fixed to adapt to future employee requirements.
Finance teams fall into this bracket. However, the nature of the finance function is changing. For example, in the past all documents and files used by employees were stored in one place. The computers they needed for their jobs were set up on desks in the same room. And the server that all their work was sent to sat in a big room on the top floor of their office building.
Fast-forward to today; finance teams no longer need to worry about a lack of workplace flexibility thanks to Cloud computing solutions available on the market which makes remote working much easier.
Why cloud tech is the backbone of finance teams working from home
Cloud technology directly addresses some of the key issues which previously prevented finance teams from being able to proactively work away from the office. These include security, collaboration and data access.
We will explore below how rapid technological change and advances in the Cloud have eliminated these barriers to your finance team working remotely.
It is imperative that you safeguard sensitive financial data held within your business, especially since it is the most sought-after information by cybercriminals. It's both about preventing hackers from accessing your data and ensuring your data is backed up in real-time to protect it from being accidentally lost. Cloud-based software helps to improve financial cybersecurity, regardless of where it is accessed. That, after all, is the very nature of the Cloud.
When the Cloud is accessed away from your work premises, the encryption you use on your business computers and laptops remains in place. No more keeping your fingers crossed that the laptops your team uses at home are properly protected - the Cloud does it for you.
As all your finance teams' work is automatically synced to the Cloud, you don't need to worry about a rogue keystroke deleting a whole bunch of data as would be expected from an unprotected standalone computer that has no backup.
Remote working is by no means a new concept. However, it’s evident that the big shift to hybrid working during lockdowns has made it common practice for a substantial number of organisations. What’s essential now is ensuring that these organisations have all the tools required to be able to collaborate effectively both within their departments, and with the rest of the business.
Utilising Cloud software enables a finance team to continue interacting closely with you and each other as they work on the same server. All the information they need will be at their fingertips, documents they work on can be shared within a few clicks, tasks can be assigned remotely, and the results of their work can be seen just as quickly and easily as if they were in your office.
The challenge that you now face is factoring in the need for employee engagement, as you don’t want your colleagues to feel emotionally distant as well as physically apart, so use tools such as video-conferencing and virtual team meetings creatively to keep dialogue fresh and organic. It's advisable to have a few regular meetings in person even if you are using a work-from-home regime permanently. In terms of output, however, a Cloud-based system allows your team to work remotely as effectively as if they were all in one room.
Whenever there is a significant change in working practices, there might need to be some transitional work, such as digitising historical records that previously had to be handled manually.
If you are moving to a Cloud-based system, that's something you should consider regardless of where your workforce is located. One of the benefits of Cloud computing is the increased flexibility that comes with remote working.
Those who need the data in the Cloud will have 24/7 access to it, wherever they are. In the same way that they would if everyone worked under the same roof, your administrators will remain in total control of who has access to what - at all times.
Attracting talent to remote finance teams
When it comes to hiring, enabling remote working immediately allows you to engage with a larger pool of candidates. This is especially true now that a new group is entering the talent pool: Generation Z.
Staff will no longer need to commute to work, and relocation expenses won't be required when you try to fill senior positions. This does not mean the end of the workplace as we know it. Just because you could allow some of your team to work remotely doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what you will expect to happen all the time.
But the flexibility that comes with remote working can make you more attractive as an employer along with other employee benefits. Even before the pandemic, studies found that workers who had the option to work from home were more content and less likely to look to move elsewhere.
Offering an attractive work-life balance can be a significant selling point for your organisation.
Take the next steps for finance teams working from home
Even traditionally office-based teams such as finance departments can now work from home - securely, easily, collaboratively, and either permanently or as part of a hybrid approach.
But with this, it’s important to opt for the right Cloud system, as it needs to provide full functionality for all the tasks carried out by every member of your finance team.
Have a look at our Cloud-based accounting software, Advanced Financials, and learn how we can help you to build your remote finance function of the future.