Work from home has largely been implemented well within finance functions and most CFOs are now more positive about work from home in the future with 67% more positive and only 11% less positive according to a survey of more than 50 CFOs by Ignition Global Consulting.
For most companies work from home has been implemented successfully. Especially so within the finance function with 70% of CFOs rating WFH implementation in Finance as very good or excellent. For the wider business it appears to have been mostly successful, although with more challenges as 48% rated WFH implementation across the business as very good or excellent.
It has not all been positive however as a significant minority of companies have experienced challenges with 11% rating WFH implementation as fair in the business which mirrors the 11% who are now less positive about WFH as a long term option.
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We asked four CFOs for their opinions:
What is your opinion of having team members work from home? Has this changed and if so what are the main reasons?
Vikas Ralhan: Pre-COVID, I was among those who were completely against the very idea of working away from physical boundaries of office & active monitoring of a supervisor. Finance managers are control freak and they believe in micro-controllership, in general. However, COVID being the strongest catalyst to shake & shift the mind-set of old-school supervisors including mine. Now, finance managers are trained and equipped to lead remotely; no single solution works everywhere so every team has devised their own rules of operations.
Alvin Tan: Team members working from home is going to be a new “norm”. The whole Company has been working from home since mid-January and even till now, everything is functioning well and there is no disruption to our business at all. Never thought it was possible but the COVID-19 situation forced us to take that step forward and we never looked back.
Hafiz Roslan: I have always been an advocate of working where you perform best. I have always told my team that we should be paid for our work, not our time. I will continue to encourage my team to work from home if that is best for them.
Rajat Gupta: Initially there was reluctance on the new system, primarily on:
- Resources available to work remotely
- Team’s connectivity to be readily available
- Efficiency and productivity in the home environment
So far, with the technology we invested in few years back has helped us to keep the function normal even while working from home. Although we do not see each other that frequently, but communication has been fluent thus there is no drop in productivity. In fact the non-intimidating work environment has improved the motivation level of team and their efficiency to focus on work.
What have you learnt (personally and as a business) from having to implement work from home?
Hafiz: Personally, to me working from home efficiently boils down to the individual’s time management. What I have observed from my organisations are that meetings are being set up close to lunch or dinner hours which often run through your mealtime. In one of the communications on WFH best practices, we emphasise that rest and meal times should remain important to work life and that it needs to be set as a routine and not be overlooked.
Rajat: Implementation of work from home has taught me well on both Personal and Business environment:
- Team cohesiveness: Crisis brings people together. This has proved well, in these tough times people have learned how to be with each other while working from remote locations.
- Enhanced communication level: With everyone available on call, business has operated as usual. There has been almost zero face to face dealings, but we have learned how to get the work done through emails and telecons.
- Ways to save cost: Apart from fixed costs such as Rental, working from office has other costs which are “normal” in the business. These costs like printing to read, meeting up for coffee has become free as we have entered in the new virtual world. In fact we conducted virtual Board meeting, thus saved substantial cost.
- At home it is carefree environment and brings in its own new set of distractions. Focus on work was challenging initially but now I have learned to work around with them.
- Although work hours have increased but due to enhanced productivity I have been able to find time to improve my skills and catch up with the professional updates. As all the seminars and trainings have gone on web “learning from home” has become easy.
Vikas: As a supervisor, now I’ve confidence in managing and collaborating remotely using amazing work tools especially MS teams, G-meet & Zoom. During last 100 days, we were able to conceptualise & implement corporate structuring along with year end audit processes which was pen-paper activity during pre-covid requiring hrs & hrs of face to face discussions.
Personally, I’m reading a lot on evolving people skill-needs & process automations including cyber & privacy laws. Business wise, we have implemented end-to-end cloud ERP benefiting every stakeholder, allowing them with faster and accurate data capturing from anywhere leading to real-time monitoring.
As I write, I believe workplace of future means cloud tools, zest to collaborate and possibilities for inclusion across geographies.
Alvin: Management and Supervisors need to have a certain level of trust in their staff or direct reports in order for the “work from home” system to work. Tasks needs to be clearly spelt out on what needs to be done and when must it be done. This should be used to measure the performance of their respective direct reports.
Any other comments on work from home?
Alvin: There is no one silver bullet or one model that will suit every Company. The Company needs to understand the dynamics of its staff and tools available that will support work from home to work. If you have a Management that likes to be always looking over its staff shoulders, then working from home does not work.
Vikas: With respect to finance function, I believe that finance heads need to re-validate their WFH scheme of things from BCP lens:
- Data storage: Teams work and store data on cloud with-in designated drives, &
- Data security: Stringent access controls
Since, loads of data stored on folders which are outside your control, so it is imperative to work with reliable service providers with defined SLAs internally and externally.
Employees need to be trained & sensitised on maintaining discreetness around work, especially of listed and financial services companies.
Rajat Gupta is a senior business and finance executive based in Singapore. He has 15+ years experience in industries including oil & gas, shipping and technology with established companies and start ups.
Alvin Tan is a C-level executive and finance leader based in Singapore. He has experience in shipping, business consultancy and big 4 audit firms.
Vikas Ralhan is a CFO and Angel Investor based in India. He has 16+ years finance experience across various industries in MNCs and start ups.