During recent times, the return from the disruption caused by the pandemic has manifested itself as hybrid working within the business world. As we predicted in 2021, hybrid working has now become the norm. Finance professionals can no longer disregard the need for adaptability within their department (and their overall company strategy).
The shift away from set work hours and locations has allowed businesses to hire from a wider pool of candidates, save money on costly real estate, and give workers more autonomy in designing schedules that work for them.
In McKinsey’s analysis of the future of remote working, they deduced that just a few industries have a significant amount of potential for remote labour. The field of finance and insurance has the greatest opportunity for remote working. Three-quarters of the time is spent on tasks that may be performed outside the office without a drop in output.
The rise of hybrid working models
When Gallup conducted a survey about hybrid working, they found the top reasons workers preferred this model included a strong desire for greater personal flexibility, such as working when, where, and how best fits them. Their expectations for improved welfare, work/life balance, and flexibility indicate a new "will of the workplace" that will not tolerate the traditional office moving forward.
Nevertheless, the work environment and the company's regulations are not the only factors determining how a person feels about their job. Companies have a responsibility to their employees to foster healthy workplaces by making a comprehensive and unwavering commitment to employee engagement and welfare, as well as great management and a robust corporate culture.
In addition, hybrid work may assist in fostering creativity and innovation. When individuals are permitted to work in their preferred location (whether at home, in a coffee shop, or at the office), they are more inclined to think outside the box, coming up with new ways to be efficient and accomplish goals.
Moreover, happy workers are also productive workers. It has been repeatedly shown that those who are happy create the best company outcomes. Consequently, if you really want your finance department to be even more successful, you should make employee satisfaction one of your top priorities.
Hybrid working in a post-Covid world
When Deloitte looked at the impact of the pandemic on the workforce, they estimated that approximately 100 million individuals in Europe made the transition to working from home while the pandemic was ongoing. Roughly half of them were doing so for the very first time. This move happened quickly, leading to workers quickly seeing the advantages of working remotely. These advantages include not having to commute, having more time for personal wellbeing, and enjoying greater focus.
As we move beyond the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, we have seen a tremendous desire globally for more flexible types of employment, especially to maintain some aspect of working remotely. While some employees wish to do their jobs entirely from home, most workers are interested in hybrid work arrangements which provide the best of both worlds.
Since the contemporary finance team does not operate out of a single location or office, they are either entirely telecommuting or working in a hybrid arrangement from various locations. It is appropriate for businesses since they can lower their operating expenses, owing to the reduced investment in office space required. They also have the advantage of attracting talented people and serving consumers from all over the globe.
How to lead a successful hybrid finance team
When it comes to operating in a hybrid environment, employees are faced with uncertainty. They often have minimal insight into the procedures and tasks. They perhaps have a difficult time recreating the office's cohesion, teamwork, and camaraderie, even though they may favour remote work because of its freedom and flexibility.
Managers in productive hybrid workplaces shift their focus from inputs to outputs, giving workers more autonomy in determining their own path to success (while still bearing ultimate responsibility for their results). The first step is to define everyone's responsibilities and establish concrete targets and deadlines. The next step is to schedule regular check-ins to discuss progress, identify problems, and give assistance. They expect results from their staff and reward them for taking ownership of those results.
Provide the necessary setup and equipment
Putting money into the appropriate equipment and setup for each team member is essential. Tools like improved Wi-Fi, headphones, and cameras may be necessary for distant employees. Each team's specific requirements must be considered. Our Finance Trends Report highlighted that just 20% of financial professionals are now utilising Cloud-based software, suggesting they have not been provided with the means to operate remotely.
Adjust financial processes
Cash management, approval procedures, and budgeting are key activities for most businesses. Paper invoices and checks are difficult to manage while working remotely. Therefore, ensure that someone is designated to monitor all paper items submitted to the office.
To simplify cash management in distant locations, you must accelerate the shift from paper to electronic documentation, and from asynchronous electronic documentation to Cloud technology for finance teams. It is vital to develop a centralised digital process for document storage and implement a vendor management solution to monitor major contracts, spending requests, and payments.
Proceed by modifying your financial systems to provide the required rights to the relevant individuals, so they may enter data, evaluate trends, and view reports. If your processes necessitate the manual consolidation of data from many departments, a central repository should be prepared to accept the consolidated data from all stakeholders.
Deploy innovative technologies
When undertaking digital transformation projects, finance teams must adapt, and CFOs must assess existing workflows to determine whether manual processes can be streamlined with the help of Cloud-based accounting software (which is more secure, integrated, and facilitates automation). The effectiveness of essential business operations may be improved by enhancing employee readiness for success and boosting internal efficiency.
In this context, the adoption of Cloud tech for finance teams enables a user-friendly interface and a single source of information. Flexibility, and scalability must be primary concerns when adopting this technology.
Our Finance Trends Report also showed that 50% of financial professionals believe that the implementation of new technology in the last year has made their organisation more efficient. According to them, the top four ways in which technology contributes to their profitability are as follows: quicker work completion (55%), assuring compliance and security (42%), more efficient client interactions (41%), and business application tech integrations (41%).
It is natural to doubt your workers' efficiency when you cannot see them at work. However, micromanaging remote workers never produces positive results. Workers' faith in management can be eroded as a result. Hence, managers should resist the temptation to have catchups with their team too frequently. Instead, they should make the most of their time together by planning, executing, and celebrating their collective successes.
Challenges of leading a hybrid finance function
Nevertheless, hybrid working has also generated new challenges for employees, particularly for individuals who find it difficult to separate work and home time.
Inefficient teamwork and collaboration
When everyone is in the same building, it is much simpler to coordinate efforts, but when teams are spread out, it can be a challenge. Possible causes include incompatible schedules or a lack of necessary resources. To address this issue, businesses must provide a level playing field for telecommuters and office workers, while also providing them with the tools to break down any information silos.
Moreover, managing teams that are divided between the office and remote workers is especially demanding because of the inherent difficulties in bridging the gap between the two. Managers are responsible for guaranteeing that workers in different locations are evaluated and promoted with the same fairness.
As outlined by the FCA, when finance employees operate in a remote setting, control functions such as risk, compliance, and internal audit should be undisturbed. Furthermore, the company should embrace any systems that improve compliance. Another core issue is that companies must examine potential data, cyber, and security threats, especially since employees may be required to travel with private documents and computers when working under a hybrid setup.
Maintaining work/life balance
Without a clear buffer between work and home, some people could end up working late into the night, leading to burnout. In this context, our trends survey found that 91% of finance professionals report working before or after their contracted hours, indicating that those who work remotely require assistance separating their work and personal lives.
The quality of their job may diminish if they consistently overwork as they will not be getting sufficient rest. Managers should urge employees to log off at predetermined times to recuperate at night. Overworking may be a sign of inefficient operations, according to 38% of respondents, who indicated they lack sufficient time to perform all their jobs.
The future of hybrid working in finance
Now more than ever, CFOs are expected to meet the expectations of a workforce with a growing preference for hybrid / remote working arrangements (while also ensuring their teams continue to provide effective results). In this pursuit, they should provide flexibility through a hybrid working model, allowing finance managers to tap into a wider talent pool and rethink business operations to be more efficient and straightforward.
As hybrid working becomes more prevalent in the finance realm, managers must adjust to ensure their teams stay fully operational and productive. Implementing the proper technological solutions is crucial to achieving the optimal balance, and finance leaders should evaluate their interim solutions and business requirements.
Our Cloud-based accounting software, Advanced Financials, assists finance departments with becoming a collaborative, strategic, and value-driven force inside their organisation, which paves the way for efficient management of hybrid teams.