With England moving into a full lockdown once again, many businesses are having to adapt to remote working and remote teams once again. For many firms in the professional services, including accounting, auditing and in the legal profession, there is still an archaic culture of using physical documents, something that slows processes down enormously when teams are remote. In 2019, a poll of more than 5,000 workers found that nearly half (44%) of UK respondents classed their company’s office technology as being ‘woefully out-dated’. Globally, more than a third (38%) of those surveyed said their employer is still reliant on manual administration processes and nearly half (48%) believed they would be more productive if they were given access to better office technology and tools. Despite the first COVID lockdown, businesses are still struggling not just with inefficient working practices and processes but also with inefficient tools that actually slow down their work. In fact, another poll of 5,000 workers across 22 global companies found that fewer than 44% said they knew where to find the information they need for their day-to-day work and 68% of workers switch apps 10 times an hour or more and waste a full hour a day in-app switching.
Now, as businesses face another month of remote working, Chris Biggs, Partner at Theta Global Advisors, explains why November is the ideal time for businesses to take stock and utilise the cloud fully and streamline their business processes for greater efficiency.
"There is never a perfect time to make structural or process-driven changes in companies, regardless of the size, but global events that change the working landscape push business leaders to making decisions to adapt to this new environment. As seen after 2008, firms in the technology area of finance took the opportunity to push the market in a particular direction. Now, as the economy looks to recover post-COVID, professional service firms have to adapt towards a new normal.
Many firms, particularly in the accountancy space, are still reliant on face-to-face meetings, paper documents and physical signatures, but in a globalised, digitised world, COVID has shown that this has to change. When the world moves out lockdown and back towards the norm, decision-makers will need to recognise that attitudes towards given practices, such as the commute, physical meetings and traditional work practices, will even be changed.
Working at home and connecting with a team via phones and laptops is easier now than ever before, and because of the security features that providers offer, it is also safer. For small businesses, it can also massively reduce the cost for them as they don’t need to create their own network or own a server, and instead, can host people from all over the world on a fairly small budget, meaning they have access to a much larger talent pool as well.
At Theta, we connect with our team and our clients via video conferencing software and can do this from anywhere in the world, just using a phone, tablet or laptop. We also offer our team the chance to work more flexible hours, which allows them to free themselves mentally from the stresses of family commitments so when they are working, they are more effective, fresher, and more productive because of it. Large firms, particularly in the professional services space, need to recognise this now so that they can adapt and move forward in a post-COVID world. For those who don't, the consequences could be dire.”