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How to Overcome the Challenges of a Remote Office of Finance

When your office of finance was forced to begin working remotely, were you prepared? A study in early March of 2020 by OwlLabs found that over a third of all companies weren’t even somewhat prepared to have their employees work from home. And in the current environment, organizations around the globe are being challenged to adapt to a remote workforce becoming the “new norm”.

In order to adapt to these sudden changes, organizations are doing whatever they can to ensure the timeliness of their financial reporting. Thankfully, their experiences mimic those of the organizations who have previously implemented work from home policies.

As time goes on, organizations are realizing the three key areas of impact that working remotely has on the office of finance.

  • The benefits that it has for employees
  • The damage that it can do to the integrity of the Record to Report process that lacks standardization and automation
  • The increased pressure to maintain a high level of quality in financial reporting, and to meet the need for real-time information and insight that enables critical business decisions

Increased Employee Satisfaction and Productivity

While it’s safe to assume that during the initial transition your team will need time to adjust and feel comfortable, the long-term benefits speak for themselves. Once a stable process is put in place, workforce productivity and employee satisfaction increase dramatically. In fact, a recent survey by Fundera found that 86% of employees say that they’re most productive when they work alone and are rid of common office distractions like inefficient meetings, office gossip or loud workspaces. This claim was also backed up on the managerial side, in which two-thirds of managers surveyed in the same study reported that a work from home policy increased the productivity of their employees.

This increase in productivity can, at least in part, be attributed to the happiness and health increase of remote workers. An Amerisleep study of over 1000 remote workers found that 80% experienced less job stress than they did when working in a typical office setting. Additionally, according to Indeed’s Remote Work Survey, 50% of remote employees took a reduced amount of sick days, and 56% had a reduced number of overall absences. As the current influx of remote workers settles into their new work schedule, organizations can expect to see similar levels of productivity and wellbeing growth in their employees.

The Threat to the Business’ Process Integrity

While an increase in employee satisfaction and productivity is definitely a positive, a remote workforce comes with drawbacks for the office of finance. The most notable are the operational changes required to conduct the Record to Report process, and the new expectation that is placed on the CFO to guide the organization in these unorthodox times.

Unfortunately, the average office of finance today relies heavily on manual processes and spreadsheets to complete their financial processes. By their nature, spreadsheets are isolated and offer nothing in terms of visibility into the workflow. In an attempt to overcome this, as the workforce becomes dispersed, calendars are filled up with an increased number of meetings to determine the status of certain tasks. And any issues that might have once been solved by heading over to the other person’s desk now require more time-consuming solutions.

All of this adds complexity to an office of finance that while already strapped for time when it comes to closing their books, is now responsible for providing real-time financial information and insight to make critical business decisions. With more work to be done and less time to do it, additional errors will happen, and the integrity of any created financial documentation and decisions made must be called into question.

How the Office of Finance Can Adjust

In order to adjust to the change in how an organization’s office of finance is working, the same level of change needs to take place in the tools that are utilized. By leveraging automation, not only can your workforce perform their duties more efficiently by removing time-consuming manual processes, but your organization gains access to real-time data into your financials that can help provide insight into how to navigate the current economic environment. Additionally, the entire Record to Report process can be reliably managed with your organization’s defined controls and visibility into the progress of all relevant close tasks.

To learn more about how financial automation can improve a remote office of finance, visit our remote workforce resource page to download our eBook: A Quick Win to Improve Remote Finance Processes.