Remote Working - The New Normal For Finance Teams

Published 24/04/2020 by Dean McGlone, V1

Remote working is becoming the new normal. Finance professionals – and indeed the rest of the workforce – are grappling to maintain communication, collaboration and productivity. Many are still trying to come to terms with the huge disruption to our working lives.

Now, more than ever, finance professionals are looking to technology to minimise this disruption as well as, quite simply, enable them to continue business as usual while working from home. Currently though, according to an online poll from Advanced, 52% of the workforce is unprepared for remote working. This will clearly change as businesses have no option but to embrace the new normal.

There are plenty of tools that can help make remote working easier for finance teams when working from home. Downloads of video conferencing tools, understandably, have increased significantly – five-fold in fact according to app analytics firm Sensor Tower. The business app providers riding the wave include Tencent Conference, WeChat Work, Zoom and Microsoft Teams.

Cloud storage software and applications like Google Drive, DropBox and Egnyte can also be invaluable for easy file sharing and collaboration from any location, while communication platforms like Slack, Skype and Yammer offer real-time and secure messaging for remote teams.

But there are also finance-specific solutions to add to the mix. Advanced’s Cloud Financials, for example, can help and support finance teams in managing all elements of accounting – from accounts payable and receivable right through to credit management and bank reconciliation.

Accounts payable is perhaps one task that could create headaches for finance professionals. After all, how can they process paper-based invoices that are posted to the office? Ordinarily, a proportion of their time is taken up with sorting and routing the invoices, printing and photocopying, and locating associated paperwork. This is now incredibly difficult without technology.

In addition, documents are more likely to be lost and it’s not uncommon for duplicates to appear. This could have a detrimental effect on an organisation’s relationships with suppliers if they are repeatedly asked to replace invoices that have been lost or mis-managed.

So another tool that could be provide much-needed support to finance professionals is invoice automation software which can simplify and streamline these processes. V1’s solution, for example, is able to read, interpret, verify and validate invoices before they are posted to purchase ledgers automatically. It’s already proving to help several customers keep the lights on and keep accounts payable moving through these often challenging times of remote working. Suppliers are able to email invoices before they are then processed by remote teams using V1’s software.

The tools to support finance professionals are endless. Others include time tracking software, PDF converter software, and electronic signature software such as DocuSign and Adobe Sign.

However, it’s important to think carefully before implementing any new software. It’s about understanding what challenges remote working present and finding solutions that address them. Financial professionals should also be aware of ‘do-it-all’ tools. Any new implementation takes time so, if there are tools that already do the job (even Excel!), then it could be best to stick to them.

Technology aside, it’s also important that finance professionals prioritise their mental health during this difficult time. A few areas to consider include creating a dedicated space for working which can be distinguished from home – and one without distractions (whether that be a family member, social media notifications or a pile of washing!). What’s more, they should establish a routine which includes a consistent working schedule along with dedicated times to switch off.

To summarise, workplace as we know it has changed – and this new way of working is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Finance teams therefore need to understand which systems can still do their job at a time of remote working and which ones need to be upgraded with superior technology.