Businesses need to adapt to the changing needs of remote work to survive these testing times. With workers requesting to stay remote even after the pandemic and 70% of the working population wanting to be completely remote by 2025, it’s safe to say that this period isn’t going to end anytime soon.
This leaves leadership teams responsible for helping employees transition into these working conditions while bolstering productivity and ensuring business continuity. The task is big, but businesses can achieve this in just a few tactical steps. This blog covers those steps.
Your work culture stays – remote or not.
It isn’t the miles between your employees that decide your culture, ethics, and values but rather the employees themselves. So nail it over everyone’s heads that culture isn’t dependent on location and that everyone can play an active role in ensuring it sustains.
A few things to remember while reinforcing culture:
- Never single out employees and always maintain a sense of collective belonging to feel like they’re part of the bigger picture.
- HRs could initiate new team-building or bonding rituals that bring all employees into shared spaces for collective experiences. For example, have a virtual get-together every Friday, or gather virtually for some beer!
- Always prioritize employee mental well-being and ensure that no employee is on the verge of burnout.
Invest, train, and engage your employees.
Learning to turn your video camera on and off aren’t all the skills your employees need for remote work. In their research paper “Remote work: Equipping Business Students for the Working Reality,” Roberta and Nathan Sawatzky elaborated on the importance of multiple soft skills ranging from presentation, communication, and adaptability, among many others, which were crucial in ensuring constant success in a remote workplace.
Ways businesses can enable employees to take on remote work.
- Develop new ways to onboard and train employees, like using webinar software to host training sessions, making them feel they’ve been given adequate freedom to self-manage.
- Encourage employees to learn and develop their core competencies and necessary soft skills.
- Ensure employees know how to maintain a healthy work-life balance and things they’d need to do if they feel like they’re approaching a potential burnout.
- Enable employees to feel confident to discuss their problems on open channels or privately with their managers or mentors to make necessary changes to empower them.
- Let the employees know that their voice is heard. This will increase their trust and loyalty in the company and increase retention rates.
Reevaluate what has changed after going remote.
The best way for businesses to understand what has changed is to ask the employees for their honest input and feedback. Ensure gathering feedback concerning both operational and non-operational challenges. A culture of open communication should lead to some good conversations and process improvements.
For non-operational changes, talk to your leadership teams and understand how you can help your employees. This could mean setting a designated log-in and log-off time. This could also mean providing your employees a sum of money to buy desks, chairs, and other stuff to set up a home office. Again, a little nudge from the leadership teams can go miles to enable and motivate your employees to navigate through such times.
For operational changes, understand how these challenges impact your overall goals and employees. Then, based on the frequency or intensity of feedback, map a priority list with timelines to help fix these challenges with managers and other leaders. Process improvements here will help streamline business processes and tasks. This would directly also have a positive impact on growth for your employees.
How to reevaluate your business processes:
- Evaluate the impact of going remote on your team’s rapport, employee communication, new technology needs, and expenditure changes.
- Identify the changes that would be needed and discuss implementation methods with your employees.
- Make a list of all potential problems you deduce – from ineffective communication, inaccurate documentation/expense reports to fraudulent activities.
- Make a list of potential solutions to these challenges. This could be process and workflow changes or even the adoption of technology.
- Test run multiple softwares for a particular problem area before deciding what solves your exact remote work challenges and needs.
- Take employee feedback and convert them into actionable insights on improving processes, broken workflows, policies, and more.
Automate expense management for seamless remote expense reporting
Businesses gain accuracy and compliance in the expense reporting process by automating expense management.
With automated expense reporting and tracking employees can:
- Submit accurate expense reports without having to save and send receipts across to the finance team manually.
- Save additional time by not making copies of receipts and sending them by either postage/mail to their approvers.
- Overcome the problem of exchanging ten or more emails just to get their receipts approved with the finance team.
With automated expense verification and approval Finance teams can:
- Have complete control over the expense management process from within the software without calling employees for clarifications.
- Save significant amounts of time by not gathering all physical receipts in one place and verifying them manually.
- Use advanced data analytics to derive insights on financial analysis and trends. Without automation, the same process would need to be done manually, plotting graphs on excel sheets; whew!
- Stay audit-ready as the expense software would ensure every submitted report is compliant with IRS policies without any additional efforts from their side.
Revise and enforce new expense policies
Finance teams need to understand what has changed after the organization has gone remote and effectively modify expense policies to suit this transition. Having an open mind to approach every aspect of the financial reporting process would help immensely. Again, going remote would introduce a series of new expenses that wouldn’t have been accounted for before.
A simple example would be before going remote, common business expenses were office supplies, rent, mileage, and more. After going remote, businesses would now have expenses such as employee Wi-fi bills, one-time office setup reimbursements, etc. Thus Finance teams need to revise and enforce policies per the changes to continued compliance.
Here’s how Finance teams can relook expense policies:
- Understand the impact of going remote on your team and what new variables have to be considered concerning the reporting process.
- Once this has been understood, reason out what changes in your policies would help your company adapt to these new variables.
- Discuss your findings across departments and take extensive feedback from your employees.
- List out the most common problems that could occur in remote work – inaccurate expense reports, low levels of compliance, expense fraud, and so forth.
- Evaluate different technologies available in the market which can directly address the issues faced in your organization.
- Conduct multiple test runs with potential software choices before confirming your decision.
An expense report software can be a good start for businesses looking to enforce policies and drive compliance while also streamlining expense management. It comes with a robust policy engine that enables Finance teams to build custom policies for their organization around anything they’d find suitable. This, in turn, gives Finance teams complete control and visibility over employee spending limits, departmental budgets, and company-wide spending behavior.
Additionally, real-time policy checks would help employees correct their reports at the source of creation without adding any additional burden to the Finance department. This ensures seamless expense reporting and tracking with no extra effort – for both the employees and Finance teams. This helps them move away from redundant tasks to focus on other high-impact tasks that can help your business grow.
Leverage cloud technology for rock-solid processes
A good laptop and Wi-fi connection cannot ensure that employees stay efficient during the remote work process. Adopting the right technology plays a significant role, and poorly made decisions can be a significant barrier to your employees achieving their maximum productivity.
Ways to go about switching to cloud tech
- Understand which of your business processes are broken and need mending
- Understand the impact of these broken processes on your business and employees
- Add an associated priority score as per the requirements of automating tasks/processes across departments
- Map these required into short-term and long-term goals for the business
- Test software with multiple stakeholders and gain feedback on whether the solution fixes the problem or not
- Provide the necessary training to encourage employees to make the switch
- Audit processes after the implementation of new software and check what has changed and its impact on the business, its operations, and involved stakeholders
The economy has witnessed a tectonic shift since the onset of the pandemic. With the global workforce going remote, business owners and leaders are responsible for making this transition seamless for their employees.
We’ve seen that the transition has been more accessible for those with a solid digital infrastructure in place with real-time chat applications, video conferencing softwares, expense softwares, and more.
With this in mind, we hope these minor changes can help organizations capitalize on the real benefits of remote work while also ensuring a safe financial balance.