The future of homeworking – how to empower an isolated workforce

The year is 2020, and life as we knew it has changed forever...

The year is 2020 and life as we know it has changed…

As the fallout from the global pandemic continues, businesses are facing up to the fact that some changes are here to stay.

Agile Automations takes a look at the trend for a remote workforce and how this ‘new way of working’ will be more reliant on technology than ever.

How technology can help empower your workforce

An unexpected boom 💥

Mass homeworking has, inadvertently, been one of the biggest changes to come out of COVID-19 as firms across the country abandoned corporate offices and gave staff remote access instead.

According to the BBC, fifty of the biggest UK employers reported that they had no plans to return all staff to the office full-time anytime soon. And almost half actually said they didn’t have plans for workers to return to the office at all when surveyed at the end of August.

This is happening across all sectors, from retail to banking, with employers unable to implement safe social distancing.

There is also a reluctance breeding within the workforce to return to offices with many realising that expensive or time-consuming commutes are not necessary to do a good job.

This feeds into the perpetual work/life balance debate with more family time seen as a positive thing after months of lockdown together.

Of course, this mass abandoning of city centre offices will have a knock-on effect and could cost the UK economy £480bn.  Hence the government’s campaign to get ‘Britain back to work’.

Manchester is no different and we have already seen concerted efforts by Marketing Manchester and CityCo to entice visitors and workers back into the city.

Manchester skyline

What does it mean for employers?

Many employers are following suit with swathes of offices set to close for good.

Surprisingly, this includes top government contractor Capita who is shutting 100 offices in favour of permanent home working.

Other major players mixing up how employees will work post-COVID are high street banks.

According to the FT, Virgin Money and Metro Bank have already drawn up plans to add new facilities for flexible working in branches. This would see corporate offices ditched by thousands in favour of making more of their high street presence.

Lloyds Banking Group, which has the UK’s largest branch network, will start testing a similar approach from October.

The move to home working, in particular, throws up many considerations for business leaders.

How do you help staff create the right working environment? Can teams continue to work as effectively from home? And how do you manage the impact on the team’s mental health and stress levels?  These are all current issues which many bosses are trying to figure out.

However, this shift is also a major opportunity for employers to invest in the right digital infrastructure.

Embracing digital innovation will not only support staff during the transition but also unburden them from menial or repetitive tasks long-term.

How can technology aid homeworking?

So, now we know that employees don’t need to be together in a physical office to do a good job.

But how can technology help them do a better job as we all transition to a more flexible approach to our place of work?

Robotic process automation (RPA) is an example of digital innovation which will make all the difference to your business in this post-pandemic world.

RPA is all about creating “software bots” to automate mundane repetitive tasks which take employees away from more productive tasks such as decision-making or customer service.

Embracing this technology will help empower an increasingly home-based workforce creating more purpose and speeding up data-heavy tasks.

Not only is RPA the fastest-growing segment of the enterprise software market but it has an impressive take-up rate by firms in recent years.

In 2018 Deloitte reported that 53% of respondents to their annual RPA survey had already embarked on their automation journey, and predicted that figure would rise to 72% by 2020. This can only have been speeded up by the outbreak of coronavirus and the current trend for homeworking.

Here are just some of the ways RPA can assist businesses:

  • Finance: Transactions can be checked against sanctions and AML restrictions, payment authorisation checks
  • Procurement: Purchase orders, invoices, automatic updates
  • HR: Regulatory reporting, employee vetting and ‘know your customer’ checks
  • Accounting: Automatic invoicing, bank reconciliation, VAT and other tax updates and returns
  • Governance and Risk:  Takes the risk out of home-based staff accessing sensitive data and avoids GDPR issues as well as human error

At Agile Automations we believe bots should do the mundane legwork so your staff can focus on what they’re talented at.

Empower your workforce 💪