In recent years, many companies have adopted remote work options, providing greater flexibility for their employees. This year, however, remote work environments were no longer an option, they became a necessity. For accounts receivable teams, working remotely can present unique challenges, not the least of which include the heightened security and privacy measures required for these employees to perform their function effectively. As a leader, there are some key things you can do to manage your remote accounts receivable teams.
Key #1: Emphasize clear communication
Clear communication is vital to a successful relationship, whether in-person or remote. The importance amplifies, however, when you’re working with remote employees. By consistently communicating with employees, you will create a sense of community, build awareness and understanding, and improve overall engagement within your organization.
Communication can take many forms. For example:
- Clearly defined, documented policies, procedures, and guidelines that are shared with all employees, and discussed for optimal understanding and adherence.
- One-on-one meetings with direct reports, conducted on a regular basis to ensure consistent conversations between the supervisor and employee.
- Regular team huddles that offer a team interaction opportunity that bolsters engagement, improves productivity, and creates a greater sense of satisfaction among the group.
- Listening to your employees to understand roadblocks, opportunities for improvement, and more.
- Email communication to provide approvals, guidance on projects, or helpful resources as attachments.
Ensure you communicate in a variety of ways to capture the attention and understanding of your employees. Learning and communication styles vary by person, so it’s important to factor those styles into your communication plans, especially when working with remote employees.
Assessing employee performance in a remote environment can be daunting for many leaders. In a traditional office setting, managers can easily observe employee activity and engage in-person with that employee; however, that style of oversight is altered in a remote setting. Instead, supervisors will need to rely on consistent communication with their employees, and ultimately, trust that their employees are performing their duties to the best of their ability. Establish clear expectations for project management and communication. When both sides understand what is expected of them, they will rise to the occasion.
Key #2: Focus on the team
Working remotely can be lonely. Employees may feel disconnected and isolated from each other and the organization. They no longer have side conversations in the break room and may not find it as easy to ask a quick question or discuss a new idea with a colleague.
As a leader, it’s important to understand these challenges and make every effort to create a supportive, team environment. Think of creative ways to offer greater interaction with your employees. For example, you may consider:
- Encourage video conferencing for meetings to allow team members to see one another.
- Schedule a virtual happy hour with your team, providing an opportunity for casual, non-work-related conversation.
- Conduct remote team building activities.
Video conferencing is an essential component to building a strong remote team. In fact, a recent study showed that, “87% of remote workers feel more connected through the use of video conferencing.” Also, video conferencing helps team members read non-verbal cues that would otherwise be missed in written or audio-only communication. This creates greater understanding and richer communication.
Email and phone conversations also are important and can help you build a strong, productive team.
Key #3: Equip employees with necessary IT resources
Over the past few years, many companies have begun rolling out infrastructure to support remote employees. However, many IT departments have had to quickly adapt to managing an entirely remote workforce this year. Supporting a remote workforce poses unique challenges, especially for employees in the financial services sector, where security and privacy concerns are particularly important.
Ensure remote employees have the necessary equipment, programs, and training to perform their jobs well in this new environment. Also, make sure they have the ability to quickly access IT support, when needed.
For proper security safeguards, accounts receivable employees should use two-factor authentication as an added level of security. Employees also should be discouraged from saving any files to their home computers or printing client files as this poses additional risk to your organization and respective clients.
Remote work may not have been on your radar coming into 2020, but it’s likely to stay going into 2021 and beyond, in some form. As you navigate this new work relationship with your employees, it’s important to not only communicate well and consistently, but also to be empathetic and supportive of your team and to arm them with the technology and support they need to perform their functions well.