With local restrictions now implemented by governments in many countries around the globe, the majority of financial services employers are asking their employees to work from home.
Therefore, continued secure access to technologies, which are an integral part of daily business life, is important more so than ever before.
Many business continuity plans are being implemented, and for them to be successful it is essential that staff have the necessary equipment at home to make a seamless, secure and efficient transition to their new working environment, writes Paul Forman, international sales manager at Novia Global.
The majority of staff might be working from home for the first time and they will need to set boundaries between their home and working lives – especially as schools start to close and families find themselves in close proximity.
Even if they can only manage a small space at the end of a kitchen table, it is good practice to ensure that they have a dedicated space to work.
When I am not travelling to meet with advisers in Europe, I am rarely to be found in the Novia Global office in Bath. Instead, I have a dedicated study in my home in Liverpool.
As a seasoned remote worker myself, one of the early tips that was given to me was to dress a certain way in order to maintain a professional mindset while working away from the office – not necessarily a full business suit and tie, but to definitely avoid lounging in pyjamas and with it the risk of embarrassingly having to take an urgent and unexpected Skype call.
The good news for advisers and their support staff working remotely is that technology is now widely incorporated and adopted by most financial services companies.
For example, with web-based platforms like Novia Global, we can continue to offer advisers straight through processing for new business submissions and other services.
These include the Origo transfer solution used with money purchase pension transfers, which can also continue uninterrupted despite the majority of administration staff working remotely away from their usual office environment.
Take advantage of extra time
Away from the routine day-to-day activities, the current situation also presents an ideal opportunity to maximise what can be achieved in the normal business day.
For example, if a typical commute robs one-to-two hours per day then this time can be used, instead, to study for that business qualification put off previously due to a lack of available time to commit to it properly.
For some, this opportunity to study and gain business qualifications might have positive effects and lead to future career progression and even an increased salary.
Adapt your routine
Despite the apparent ease for many to make the transition to working from home, some employees may not find it an easy change and might struggle to cope in this new working environment.
Daily conference calls can be an excellent way for employees to maintain contact with their colleagues and ensure effective communication continues across different business functions.
With many governments now advising us to avoid all but essential social contact, more people will be spending a lot more time than usual at home and many of their regular social activities will no longer be available.
It will mean a different rhythm of life; but support from employers, by way of access to mental health resources, is essential so that staff can maintain a healthy work/life balance.
This might mean creating a new daily routine that prioritises good physical and mental health – perhaps by maintaining regular coffee breaks and lunch hours and using these to read more, to incorporate an exercise routine, to try out new relaxation techniques, or just simply finding new knowledge on the internet.
Show must go on
As the current situation evolves and we find ourselves in continuing uncertain times, one thing that is certain is that a comprehensive and well thought out business continuity plan is vital.
Giving any staff working from home access to the appropriate support and technology will guarantee that advisory businesses will be able to weather the current storm, and also deliver their services as securely and efficiently as possible.
This current period may be unprecedented in most of our working lives.
But will we want to look back in the future and say that the situation was an opportunity wasted or one where we made the most of it with positive actions and activities that led to long lasting and tangible benefits?
This article was written for International Adviser by Paul Forman, international sales manager at Novia Global.