The world has never before seen a pandemic like the one of 2020, and its effects will continue to transform the way global businesses function. A relevant example of this is manifesting in various organizations’ return-to-work policies.
Here are three facts that organizations, and especially offices of finance, need to consider when examining the future of their company, employees and approach to remote work.
1. Before the pandemic, job flexibility and new technologies were quickly becoming a workplace expectation.
In 2018, Millennials were found to be the largest generation in the workforce, with 1 in 3 Americans in the workforce characterized as Millennials. This generational shift meant expectations for the office of finance had already started rapidly changing, such as an increased demand for job flexibility and the introduction of new technology to business processes. A Deloitte study conducted before the pandemic interviewed over 12,000 Millennial and Gen Z employees globally. This study found that these newer generations not only feel positively towards emerging technologies and non-traditional work practices—such as working virtually—but expect their organizations to fulfill and train their employees accordingly.
50% of Millennials and 44% of Gen Z in the study stated that job flexibility directly factored into their decisions to work for an organization. Additionally, 55% of Millennials within companies that were more flexible with hours and location of work said they expected to stay more than five years. Within companies that did not offer these work aspects, 31% of Millennials admitted they would not continue to work there for longer than two years.
The study also questioned its participants about the emerging digital revolution—widely dubbed “Industry 4.0”—that encompasses new technologies, such as AI and videoconferencing tools. 52% of Millennials and 50% of Gen Z employees felt that Industry 4.0 would assist them in their role, augmenting their job and allowing them to be more creative and perform more value-adding activities for their organization. For the office of finance, this means a migration away from outdated practices, such as spreadsheets and manual processes, and looking to automation to shift accountants’ attention towards more strategic tasks.
2. The global shift to a virtual workforce forced organizations to adjust their expectations and fostered an increase in technology adoption.
Though the pandemic of 2020 took many organizations by surprise, companies quickly figured out how to equip their employees to work from home productively. Organizations invested in videoconferencing apps, task management software and other tools that would allow their employees to limit disruption and conduct business from their homes. In fact, many prominent organizations have experienced so much success with the shift that many businesses are allowing their employees to keep working remotely permanently.
3. Automation will allow organizations to further streamline and equip their finance teams for a sustainable, effective close process.
For offices of finance, the old go-to tool has been spreadsheets. However, issues that have always been present in spreadsheets— such as visibility into the workflow, lack of granularity and an overall absence of security— now require additional fixes that weren’t as critical before the office of finance became remote. If organizations want or need to continue to allow their finance teams to function from home, a different solution is required.
During the pandemic, many organizations adopted automation software to support their virtual close process and accommodate their new circumstances. Both the benefits that automation brings— such as a shorter close cycle, increased visibility, automated audit tracking, improved workflow and decreased bottlenecks— are short-term and long-term.
A study by Business Wire on the benefits of organizational digital transformation found a few lasting, long-term effects that automation initiatives produced:
- In 91% of organizations that implemented automation, employees could focus attention on less repetitive, tedious tasks.
- 91% of organizations received an increased capacity to handle volume
- 85% of organizations gained new revenue sourcing
Beginning automation initiatives now will not only benefit your organization within this completely virtual environment, but the long-term effects will be felt long after finance teams are back in an office setting.
The pandemic of 2020 has significantly affected the way global business will work in the future, specifically in terms of working remotely. While the ability to work virtually was becoming an expectation, offices of finance are now preparing to return to a new type of normal, where a hybrid of in-office and remote work will be commonplace. Automating your organization’s financial processes will help increase factors such as visibility and productivity, among other benefits. To learn more about how the pandemic and sudden shift to a virtual workforce has affected global business, read 6 Changes That Come With A Virtual Close.
Written by: Ashton Mathai