“Do you manage a finance team?” Asked Chris Argent in a popular recent poll he proposed to his network. He was trying to find out what the GENCFO community felt about the negative impacts of remote working… and what he discovered was pretty interesting.
“I was talking to a Global CFO last week,” said Chris in his post.
“[He] had many many business concerns (inflation, cost of living, revenue forecasting..) but his number one concern was his team!”
“In particular, how to motivate them now and in the future without significant time spent together.”
“He celebrates the technology brought in to transform our communication and collaboration during the pandemic, and sees the new agility as truly incredible.”
However, Chris remarked that this Global CFO also believed that “we can not lean on this tech too much, and it is near impossible to understand his team’s morale and keep them motivated using this tech.”
“He is a huge advocate of flexible working, so this is not about 5 days a week in the office, but he felt we are not estimating the negative impact of remote working on teams.”
Chris reminded everyone of “the multiple benefits of being in the office; a common neutral space to share, to support each other, to be together.”
The poll and its surprising results
He finished with some key questions for the community to consider before they answered the poll:
“Have we forgotten how great the office is? What are you doing to keep the team together?”
Chris asked if the voters strongly agreed, agreed, disagreed or strongly disagreed with the following statement:
We are underestimating the negative impact of remote working.
The results were pretty surprising as all the answers were closely weighted.
Of 141 voters, 18% strongly agreed, 28% agreed, 33% disagreed and 20% strongly disagreed.
As you can see, the majority disagreed that we are underestimating the negative impact of remote working. However, it was not by a huge majority, and many had different opinions – this was reflected by the lively discussion that followed.
What finance leaders had to say on remote working
Darryl Bannon commented: “There is growing research out of the US, about the negative impact on young people. The pre-frontal cortex doesn’t fully develop until 26-27.”
“So, we are expecting a generation of young people (who have also lost out on face to face lecture time and other social skill development in education) to know how to function in teams, have focus, know how to deal with different cultures etc.”
“You don’t always need to be seen working, but it helps people of all ages to develop, if they can get spontaneous face time with peers and mentors.”
“How many times have we called over a newbie to show them a quick way to do something at work on the fly? You cannot do that the same way over a virtual call.”
Carl Seidman remarked on the changing requirements of work following the pandemic:
“I’m hearing very mixed feelings about remote work now. I’ve always been a big believer in hybrid – being in person as you need but not because of a mandate of tradition.”
“As we’ve seen more returning to office, I’m seeing more resistance to work-from-home. Some companies will be able to maintain 100% remote work effectively, but some will need to figure out a better hybrid strategy.”
Shera Linares raised another important question when it comes to employees perspective of returning to work:
“I’m a huge advocate as well for flexible working but I see how some employees handle working remotely better than others.”
“What do you do when your employees do NOT want to come back to the office, even if hybrid, when you feel it would be beneficial for them?”
These are just a few of the comments shared. The poll certainly sparked some real conversations that need to be had about the negatives and positives of remote working.
There’s still so much to be said on this topic from all industries and seniority levels, but it’s great to get a real insight into the perspectives of accounting and finance leaders.
Where can you learn more about this topic?
This was such an interesting debate that we have decided to make this the focus of the next GENCFO South, our live event for accounting and finance professionals. It’s an evening of thinking, sharing an connecting at an exciting venue in central London.
Why not join us on November 17 for GENCFO South?
You can learn more and request your ticket below.
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