certified financial advisor CFO's domain

Preparing Your Business For The Inevitability Of Remote Operational Infrastructure

A New Operational Frontier

A decentralized, remote infrastructure is nothing new. It has been largely forced on us due to COVID-19, but that’s the way the market has been headed for at least ten years, perhaps longer. Due to the internet, cloud computing, the internet of things, and exponential technological development, remote infrastructure is more feasible than it’s ever been.

When the coronavirus hit the states in March, suddenly everyone was forced to seriously consider a decentralized infrastructure; dovetailing that direction whether they were prepared for it or not. Additionally, thanks to this forced change, we can envision a future without coronavirus where the shift to full-time or partial telecommuting has become a main stay.  

Here are some business preparations you can make to meet this new challenge.

Migrate Your Technology Stack To The Cloud

It Can Be Difficult For A Distributed Workforce To Effectively Work From An On Premise Technology Stack.  To Maintain An Ease Of Access For Your Users And A Level Of Operational Efficiency, Migrate Your Data Warehouses And Systems To The Cloud.  When Forced To Work Remotely, You Need Technology Resources That Will Scale And Be Deployable Quickly.  No Matter Where Employees Are, As Long As They Have Access To The Internet, They Can Access Your Data.  Additionally, Cloud Data Networks Provide For Reduced Costs, Less Complexity, Enhanced Data Security Which Are All Advantages For Business Continuity Planning. 

Audit Your IT Resources

If You Had Not Previously Been Leveraging Remote Infrastructure, It May Also Be Time That You Audit And/Or Re Look At Your Data Security Protocols As You Make This Transition.  With Many Employees Operating Remotely For The First Time, You’ll Want To Make Sure They Are Operating From Company Issued Work Equipment Only, Are Storing Their Passwords In Secured Devices, Are Using 2 Factor Authentication When Appropriate, And That You Have Correct User Permission Sets That Align With Your Hierarchical Structure.  You May Also Want To Look At Your Employee Data Privacy Agreements And Consider Strengthening / Updating Them.  

Optimize Your Onsite + Offsite Work Schedules

Once It’s Safe To Return To Work Again Physically, We’ll Likely Be Living In A Hybrid Environment With Some Employees Onsite And Some Offsite, All While Leveraging Remote Operational Infrastructure. In Order To Plan For When And Who Would Be Onsite Vs. Offsite, You’ll Have To Take A Number Of Factors Into Consideration Including The Following:  Where Is Your Personnel’s Productivity Best Served Based On The Outcomes They’re Responsible For?  What Is The Optimal Mix Of Onsite Vs. Offsite At All Times To Maintain Employee Safety?  What Are The New Individual Needs Your Employees Have With Changes In Schooling For Kids?

Remodeling Space To Match Outsourced Infrastructure

Once You’ve Begun To Optimize Scheduling And Infrastructure For The Long Term You’ll Begin To Understand Where You May Have Potential Real Estate Cost Savings. If You’ve Got 100 Employees And Only 30 Must Remain On-Site, You Can Potentially Downsize Space Costs By 70%. You Can Move Offices To A Smaller, Less Expensive Location, Reduce Parking Needs, Cut Maintenance, And See Little Productivity Loss.  

Lean Into Culture

Whether We Like It Or Not, Our Work Culture Is Being Tested During These Times Of Dramatic Change And Uncertainty.  More Than Ever, Culture Needs To Be On The Agenda For Leaders.  Make Sure That You Have A Shared Understanding Among Your Leaders That They Need To Do More To Maintain Culture During This Time Of Transition.  That Means They Need To Be More Generous With Their Time To Their Employees, They Need To Care More, They Need To Overcommunicate, And They Need To Be Empathetic With Their Employees.  

Have A Plan For Remotely Onboarding New Employees

Onboarding New Employees Remotely Is A Serious Challenge In A Remote Infrastructure.  It Requires Thoughtful Planning And Execution.  Our Recommendation Is To Have The Processes They Will Be Responsible For Documented As Much As Possible For Their Review And Analysis.  I Would Also Reserve Adequate Time For Virtual Introductions To Stakeholders They Will Be Interacting With Most – Both In Their Direct Function, Cross Functionally, Above, And Below Them.  You May Want To Have Some Training Videos Prepared For Them And Reserve A Time At The End Of Every Day In The First 2 Weeks Where They Can Pose Any Question They Want.  I Would End The Day And/Or First Week With A Virtual Happy Hour And Wrap Up. This Is A New Dynamic, So Ask Your Employee At The End Of The First Day And Week; What Could You Be Doing Better? New Employees Need To Feel Embraced And Engaged Which Can Be More Challenging In A Virtual Environment.   

Tackle Performance Accountability

There Are Some Employees That We Explicitly Trust.  There Are Some That We’re Unsure Of And There Are Some That We’re Still Getting To Know.  Even In An Environment Focused Predominantly On Outcomes, You May Need To Implement Mechanisms And Communication Methods For Gaining A Better Understanding Of How Employees Are Spending Their Time.  Consider Some Enhanced Reporting, Whether Through A Weekly Developed Template Or Taken From The System.  Consider A Regularly Scheduled Daily Or Weekly Wrap Up Meeting For A Brief Review Of What Was Accomplished.  

Remove Operations Are Here, Plan Accordingly

While A Distributed Workforce Model Can Be Productive And Enhance Employee Retention, Just Like Any Other Form Of Change, It Will Also Come With Potential Risks And Some Possible Disadvantages That Need To Be Mitigated.  We Need To Adapt While Re-Thinking How We Accomplish Work.  Doing So Will Make For Cost-Efficient, Scalable, Contemporary And Competitive Operations Moving Forward.

Patrick Coggins & Rahul Merani