Rather than disrupting work processes, working from home has actually made most advice practices more productive, according to a major advice technology provider.
In an episode of The ifa Show podcast, Iress manager, practice solutions team Kelli Wilmer said the COVID-19 crisis had broken down a number of misconceptions advice business leaders may have had about their employees working remotely.
“I think the common perception of working from home in the past is that people would be lying around on their couches watching TV, they might move the mouse a bit on their computer to show they’re online and business leaders have been concerned that they can’t actually know their teams are working,” Ms Wilmer said.
“But we’ve actually seen people be more productive by working from home, because we’ve removed the crunch of commute times and a lot of other distractions in life. Working in an office, sometimes it will be a case of how many breaks do you take, or do you run out of the office to grab a coffee with a colleague.
“Those distractions just aren’t there anymore and people are putting that time to good use.”
Ms Wilmer said advice firms were making use of technology to effectively replace both formal and informal conversations between practice principals and staff.
“We’ve seen a lot of practices take on the use of messaging services such as Slack and Microsoft Teams, and that’s bridged the gap between having those off the cuff conversations where you would normally just turn to someone sitting next to you,” she said.
“From a work flow tracking point of view, the use of work flow software has continued to be utilised and we’ve seen [practices] putting stronger use of that into place.
“This can give the business a great insight into work being carried out for a client and keep staff accountable for delivery of services as well, and business leaders can then track that through a variety of reporting tools.”
Ms Wilmer said as lockdown restrictions were eased, it was likely that advice businesses would develop a ‘new normal’ of work practices that were a more flexible combination between remote work and hours in the office.
“I do believe people will gravitate back to the office environment so there can be a bit of separation between home and work for them,” she said.
“I think we’ll see it evolve into a happy medium where there will be some work from home days and other days where people will be back in the office. For this to be successful, there has to be a change of mindset for leaders running those businesses to support their employees who desire flexibility and especially for those who actively show they’re productive.
“Using software to be able to distribute work and report on that is going to give business owners and advisers the comfort that work is actually being carried out for their clients.”
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