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Financial advisor working remotely from home on his computer.

4 Things Financial Firms can do to Succeed Remotely

Financial firms are in the best position to succeed in a remote environment. Engaging with clients is easier than meeting in person and much of the work can be done regardless of location.

Americans are slowly adjusting to working from home. As states begin to ease the quarantine restrictions some companies are declaring permanent remote work environments. Companies like Facebook and Twitter are offering their employees the opportunity to work from home indefinitely.

Many firms have already moved to a fully remote operation and many more will do so in the future. However, moving to remote work can be difficult if handled incorrectly. Creating a successful remote operation is a new challenge CPA’s and financial firms will have to overcome.

When the lock-down started business owners looked to getting operations up as quickly as possible. Those who hadn’t migrated to a cloud based system did so. Others only migrated partly. While others still, struggled to adapt to a fully remote workplace. Video conferencing tools like Zoom and Microsoft teams grew in use and popularity.

Daily downloads of the videoconferencing app Zoom increased by 300 million participants since March. Businesses and employees spent time researching the different videoconferencing application and IT services companies that best fit their standards. But that’s only the beginning.

If you as a financial firm want to succeed in a remote environment you have to navigate cooperation, time management, data security and keeping your business functioning even while everyone may be so distant.

Here are a few ways to achieve success for your firm while working apart.

1) Take Advantage of Your Remote Environment

Maybe you’ve already noticed, but it’s difficult to distract each other with office gossip when there isn’t an office to gossip about. 85 percent of employees are either not engaged or disengaged at work. As a result, there is a 7 trillion dollar loss in productivity. Many offices have an open office layout which create a 32 percent drop in productivity.

However, this is harder to replicate when you’re forced to work remotely. Instead, the productive thing to do is to set virtual office hours or schedule meetings for a specific hour the day. Employees and staff can reserve a meeting however you choose. This might appear obvious to some but even in a remote environment it’s easy to get side tracked. You get one call from one colleague and then anther call 20 minutes later from an employee.  By the time you finish, you might not remember what you were doing in the first place.

Designate a period of time in your weekly and daily schedule for all meetings. The routine will also keep you focused and organized. Keeping a routine can lead to positive mental health. A routine can help manage stress levels and less overall anxiety, according to one study by Northwestern Medicine. College professors and councilors are very familiar with this system. It would be like having virtual office hours where team members can choose a slot and book a meeting.

2) Adapt to Technology

If you stop and think, if something like the Lockdown of 2020 had happened ten years earlier, remote work would not be possible. The emergence of cloud technology and communication apps like Microsoft Teams, Skype, Facetime, and Zoom together is what allows for a successful remote work environment.

Moving forward, many experts expect these changes to persist, bringing in a new era of remote activity. For financial firms, advising, asset valuation, and consulting will be done remotely. Firms should be looking to build on this change and integrate a remote reality to their existing operation.

What can your firm do to remain competitive, updated, and secure. Invest in a cloud service provider. IT services are going to be pivotal in the coming decades. Managed service providers will be in a position to make or break your firm. Look up the different cloud models and their features. Are they FINRA or SOX compliant? Where are their servers located? Are they stored somewhere outside the U.S.?

Nerds Support specializes in working with financial firms. However, there are many options available when hiring a managed IT service provider. Some are better than others, depending on the industry. You have to factor in security, location, knowledge of your industry, and even availability.

The Workplace platform provides a comprehensive solution that combines cyber security, compliance, & remote work needs.

The Workplace platform provides a comprehensive solution that combines cyber security, compliance, & remote work needs.

Is there someone you can talk to when something goes wrong? Do you have a point of contact? Sometimes a support team consists of strangers and other times it’s the CEO.

4) Build a Better Team Remotely

Human beings are social animals.  Although remote work is beneficial to productivity, it might be harmful to be socially isolated from your team. But there is a solution.

Team building is an important tool for social bonding and improving motivation. Setting aside an hour at the end of the week to celebrate that week’s accomplishments is a good example of team-building. There are a ton of other games and exercises you can try over video chat. Many have done virtual hangouts. Virtual happy hours are also popular. Even virtual competitions with certain free online games have brought offices together.   

5) Make Sure to Reconnect with Reality

The biggest issue in a remote work environment is that everything does seem to blend together. When you can’t distinguish your bedroom from your workplace it’s easy to get lost in a work-all-the-time mentality. Having an office has the psychological benefit of creating a barrier between your personal and work life.

A Stanford study showed that after 50 hours a week productivity sharply drops. Even worse, after 55 hours productivity gets so low that working becomes counterproductive.

I bring up the Stanford study because the comforts of working from home can often trick you into working more. Working an extra hour won’t kill you but the added stress of feeling like you’re at work at all hours is a serious problem. Establish clear boundaries for yourself and your team. When it’s time to log off, you log off. Communicate with your team your unavailability after a set time. Go for a walk, listen to music, but most importantly stay away from your computer.

 

Cloud Computing Modern Security

Unlock Opportunity With A New Digital Workplace

The Beginning of the End

The days of the traditional 9-to-5 are coming to an end. The digital workplace is becoming increasingly popular as technology advances and connectivity increases. 5.2% of workers in the U.S. worked from home full time in 2017, or 6.5 million people according to a US Census. This was an increase from 3.3%, or 3.7 million people in 2000.

Employees are drinking coffee, settling in, opening their laptops and starting work.

The modern work force is no longer constrained to any physical location. It’s become a versatile activity that happens anywhere and at any time. Moreover, companies benefit as well. Companies that support remote work have lower employee turnover than companies that don’t, according to a study by Owllabs. Employees also experience less sick days due to lack of exposure to germs and diseases they contract from sharing a workspace.

Numerous surveys have shown that people are actually more productive when they work from home. Fewer distractions, interruptions by coworkers and reduced stress from commuting are all factors that contribute to the increase in productivity.

Downside in the Digital Age

That being said, not everyone is excited about the change. IT professionals find themselves in a dilemma. As users continue to work remotely, they strain traditional in-house security solutions.
New questions about security and vulnerability are surfacing among the emergence of remote workers. Are those working from home exposing themselves to security risks better managed by systems within the company? What isn’t a question that internet technology, computers, cloud servers, and workplace applications are changing what it means to be productive and how productive someone can be at any given time.

Executives are now prioritizing results over effort, creativity over tradition. If someone goes into the office every day at 9 in the morning, but contributes little to the aspirations, goals and standards of the company, it doesn’t matter if they’re punctual. Contrarily, if a team member works remotely meets deadlines, develops unique proposals, and contributes greatly to the company as a whole, where they work or how they achieve these goals makes little difference.

IT departments are trying to adapt to the modern workforce. However, the security solutions they are implementing forego important features. They aren’t enough to protect employee data, assets and infrastructure. However, there is a way to embrace this new work model without sacrificing security.

Remote workers using their own devices creates a fragmented, unproductive experience for organizations and employees. Many companies have their own applications, platforms, and digital tools that fail to work together or are incompatible with one another. Going from device to device, platform to platform takes time and energy better spent on other projects and tasks.

Digital Workplace Solution

Digital workspaces are this very solution. Or rather, a secure, digital workspace that integrates the support and security necessary to maintain the safety of company assets and information, while promoting and embracing the flexibility, versatility of remote work.

Instead of leaving new and emerging technologies to go unchecked, businesses should take the time to leverage these tools and develop a strategy around them.

Creating a digital workplace that is protected by a security framework that travels with users wherever they go. Allowing IT, security, and networking teams control and security across today’s complex cloud, hybrid, and SaaS environments.

Modern businesses need to create a digital workplace that protects users wherever they are. One that is protected by security framework that travels with the user. This allows IT, networking and security teams, to use cloud and SaaS systems in a dynamic environment that promotes growth.

The digital workplace already exists to some degree in every industry. Just as a result of adapting to a digital world, the difference here would be a proactive approach to establishing a digital workplace that makes your company function better as a whole.

Cloud Computing Security Efficiency Statistics

Developing A Digital Workplace Strategy

Developing a comprehensive digital strategy isn’t difficult. As long as you stay anchored to the three elements that make up any enterprise you should be fine, namely: People, culture and tools.

People

These are employees of the company. Your digital plan should first and foremost have them in mind. What they need and how these needs might impact productivity, creativity, engagement etc. Furthermore, how these changes might influence clients/customers, vendors and the like.

Tools

The digital instruments needed to communicate and operate productively.

Culture

This is the culmination and interplay between the other two elements. How people in the organization use the tools at their disposal, engage with the client/customer one another. In what ways are these elements contributing to the furthering of your business goals and needs.

Work on Your Company

No one industry has the same needs and there is no single plan that can address the needs specific to each industry. That’s why considering these three elements can help you gain insight as to what digital tools and ultimately, what type of workspace is best for your company.

If you would like to learn more about cloud computing security, digital workspaces or the cloud in general download our free e-book. Or contact us to learn about digital tools, IT consulting and industry compliance.