Remote working is now commonplace. In fact 16% of companies globally are now fully remote. For many employees this increases job satisfaction thanks to axing the daily commute and delivering flexibility for work-life commitments. But it can come at a cost for both employers and employees. Zoom isn’t the same as in person. Projects and deadlines can slip. Collaboration takes more time than it used to across teams and departments. It can be hard to know exactly where your team is on the monthly work cycle.
It might seem unusual for a finance automation company to be talking about employee communication, managing information access and visibility of employee output. But modern technology has a key role to play in supporting and easing the widespread shift to remote working.
A couple of years ago, workplaces were suddenly forced into remote working. Many employers and employees saw this as a negative. Jump forward to now and many have embraced remote working and are planning on making it a permanent part of their lives full-time or hybrid. Offering remote working can help deliver a good employee experience, contributing to retention of valued staff. It can however lead to challenges as well.
Remote working challenges
For employees these can look like:
- mis or lack of communication with teammates and other departments
- issues accessing information they require to do their job well
- feeling isolated or hesitant to ask for help
For employers it can mean difficulties:
- tracking where teams are at with projects or regular work
- monitoring the true value and performance of employees
- delivering a good customer experience.
So how does automation fit into this puzzle? For finance teams who are embracing remote working, automating the accounts receivable process can solve many of the problems above. This is on top of the key outcomes automating AR delivers such as saving time and improving cash flow.
Promoting clear communication
If employees aren’t communicating clearly then bigger problems will occur. With different styles of communication and now different physical locations of work thrown in the mix, ensuring employee communication is open, clear and timely is crucial to business success.
Automating your accounts receivables can help promote clearer communication across your finance team no matter where they’re physically located. By reducing the manual load across the reminders journey, you’ll limit the amount of communication required. This also ensures that what is communicated is clear. No longer do employees need to check in with each other on who is doing what or which debtors should be given a friendly nudge and which need a firm warning. Rather, automation cements a structured process that removes all the mundane, time-consuming manual tasks. Employees are prompted to note details on any interactions with debtors they might have. This ensures that anyone can attend to an account with full confidence that they have the most recent information on interactions, payments and promises.
The bonus – by automating the AR process, you’re removing some of the most boring, hated work for employees. This frees them up to focus on true value adding work – increasing their overall productivity and job satisfaction.
Delivering better visibility of key information
With remote working comes many benefits for both employees and employers. Visibility of key data and insights is not one of them. With teams working together virtually, gone are the days when you can just swivel your chair around to ask Sharon which spreadsheet is the most up to date. And more importantly you can no longer count on those water cooler catch-ups with John. You know the ones – you always walked away marveling at the insights he had locked away in his head.
Putting a clear, structured process in place is almost always going to assist in shedding light on key data and insights. Automating it levels it up one more. By automating the accounts receivables process, you’re washing your hands of time-consuming spreadsheets and vlookups. Instead, key data on accounts, interactions and cash flow can easily be viewed on a simple dashboard. With live data easily available to all users, the whole team will be singing from the same song sheet. Even better, enhanced reporting that many automation tools offer, delivers vital information such as cash flow trends, a customer watchlist and more. This makes the job of producing board or exec reports much easier, no matter where your team members are located.
Easier tracking of KPIs
Whether your team is 5 strong or you are the team, it’s always important to know what impact your accounts receivables workflows are having. For some people working remotely will bring out their best. For others, they may struggle with the feeling of isolation or be reticent to ask for help. This is where tracking KPIs can help give managers and team leaders visibility of the overall status of the business’ AR and cash flow. It can also help to understand team members’ performance.
Automation facilitates the data capture so you can quickly and easily understand if the efforts you or your team are making to chase debt are working. You’ll be able to see if you have any stand-out performers or whether a team member might need some additional support. Team members themselves will have the satisfaction of seeing just what impact they’re having on the business cash flow. And with automation all of this can be achieved without having to download spreadsheets or crunch numbers.
Ultimately, remote working – whether full-time or hybrid – is here to stay. Finding the right tools to support your team and ensure the business stays on track with this new way of working is crucial to business growth and employee retention.