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November 19, 2020

How to Use Technology to Bridge the Divide to the Remote Workforce

Technology

The concept of remote work comes with key challenges, centering on the culture of the workforce and making sure that virtual employment does not compromise productivity. Technology can help bridge the gap when working virtually and address challenges ranging from engagement to supporting day-to-day job functions. With systematic implementation and the right tools, organizations can customize the optimal virtual extension for their operations.

CFOs and financial leaders can help optimize their organizations’ technology set-up by understanding more about where existing technology tools are supporting the virtual workforce and where additional buildout and investment may be needed.

Step 1: Evaluate the Current Arrangement

Many organizations had to make quick changes at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to keep operations sound during stay-at-home orders. This urgent-adapt mode resulted the use of a variety of fragmented, disparate tools to support virtual interactions and engagement. For example, for expediency sake your company’s response efforts might have relaxed information security norms to allow employees to use their personal devices for work functions. Or, if you did not have one standard for virtual meetings across the divisions of your company, you could be dealing with several virtual meeting providers and contracts now.

These short-term fixes might be causing problems across the organization that could hinder productivity in the semi-remote environment. Evaluate your current arrangement by taking inventory of the technology used in the workplace and segment which will be lasting resources. Identify where your organization is using multiple business technology tools that serve a similar function and determine which tool best meets the needs of the enterprise.

Another key area to address involves the exceptions made to information security protocol. For example, you may need to roll back any exceptions made for employees trying to login to your company’s network externally to ensure that the organization is following best practices. Employees should be using multifactor authentication and Virtual Private Networks (VPN) to access sensitive organizational data and drives.

Leadership should also be checking in with the information technology team about infrastructure needs. Network access has been plagued many with capacity issues during the remote work migration and IT professionals may need additional investments to shore up demand for servers and virtual networks.

Step 2: Define Where You Are Digitally

Once the baseline has been identified, organizations can start looking at the big picture. Technology trends are not going away. To know where your organization might need to improve its approach to digital transformation, you have to understand where the organization is in the current business technology environment.

Generally, digital transformation is affecting four facets of operations:

  1. Cultural / Organization Transformation (People / Communication)
  2. Process Transformation (Process Modification / Enhancement)
  3. Business Model Transformation (Executive Level Consensus)
  4. Domain Transformation (System / Infrastructure) 

You need to know what solutions might be reasonable for your organization to invest in and which options may need to wait as you decide if your people or process improvements need to be the focus of your technology investment efforts.

Another point to consider is where pain points are emerging in the current environment. If engagement has dropped off during the remote work scenario, a cultural transformation focusing on people may be on the short list. There are several established and emerging software solutions that bring collaboration to the forefront of projects and routine activities.

Are there any functions or projects that are in dire need of process improvement and automation? Consider how enhancing elements of your digital environment could boost efficiencies and time-intensive tasks. 

Step 3: Connect with the Appropriate Solution

Once management teams know where their areas of focus need to be, the deep dive into available resources can begin. You may consider working with a provider to clarify how tools available could benefit your organization and where processes may be needed to be adjusted to accommodate technological changes. There are plenty of opportunities to increase efficiencies, but these may be lost if the solutions are not configured in a way that works for your organization. Technology solutions may also require additional investments in system architecture, which will be vital to understand early on in the technological transformation process.

Step 4: Create Buy-In

To help make the technology investment part of the operational strategy, CFOs should work with IT and technology teams to quantify what investments in technology mean for the organization’s bottom line. They will also need to understand how those solutions integrate into the current organizational framework in the event more build out is needed.

The cost of technology may be steep, but it’s important to keep in mind that the right solutions can both remediate known issues and inefficiencies while improving remote workforce morale. The importance of connecting in the virtual work age cannot be downplayed because a more engaged workforce equals less staff turnover.

Digital transformation will also be important to secure your organization’s place in its marketplace. Disruption to the traditional office model is not going away, so investments now and synergy with workplace culture position your organization for future success. Embracing the idea of using digital tools to become more efficient is a helpful mindset, and one that financial leaders can help management teams understand when an organization is looking to take the next step with technology.

For more information about the ways in which business technology may help you navigate the remote work environment, please contact us.


Copyright © 2020, CBIZ, Inc. All rights reserved. Contents of this publication may not be reproduced without the express written consent of CBIZ. This publication is distributed with the understanding that CBIZ is not rendering legal, accounting or other professional advice. The reader is advised to contact a tax professional prior to taking any action based upon this information. CBIZ assumes no liability whatsoever in connection with the use of this information and assumes no obligation to inform the reader of any changes in tax laws or other factors that could affect the information contained herein.

CBIZ MHM is the brand name for CBIZ MHM, LLC, a national professional services company providing tax, financial advisory and consulting services to individuals, tax-exempt organizations and a wide range of publicly-traded and privately-held companies. CBIZ MHM, LLC is a fully owned subsidiary of CBIZ, Inc. (NYSE: CBZ).

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