Planning Corporate Treasury’s Return to the Office
As companies create return-to-office plans, treasury leaders should upgrade processes, cross-train staff and incorporate employee feedback to help maintain successful operations.
Companies worked diligently to maintain their operations throughout the pandemic, which caused major disruptions to business continuity. Treasury departments scrambled to maintain their core processes, often implementing technology to better facilitate remote work. As new variants of the COVID-19 virus crop up, companies face uncertainty and an equally difficult challenge: planning a return to the office.
Return-to-office plans must focus on both protecting employees’ health and preparing for periods of understaffing due to sickness or turnover. With changing employee expectations and a significantly altered job market, it is important for organizational leaders to create their return-to-office plans with input and expectations from employees.
Evaluate On-Site Processes
As new virus variants and hotspots continue to emerge, it’s important for companies to adapt their workplaces and processes to limit risk to employees.
Before employees return to the office, review any processes that involve close physical proximity to others to reduce transmission within the office. For example, depositing cash at the bank or repeatedly walking to a printer for checks and invoices could introduce unneeded risk. Try reducing the frequency of these visits, or staggering tasks throughout the workday or week so fewer staff members are in the office at one time. For instance, check printing and scanning can take place on Mondays and Wednesdays, allowing employees to work from home the rest of the week. Also consider off-site alternatives, such as outsourcing check printing to your bank or converting to ACH or other payment tools that don’t require on-site tasks.
Fewer days in the office and less time in congested places can reduce employees’ exposure to illness. However, you’ll still need to prepare for workers’ absences.
Cross-Train to Prepare for Extended Absences
Employee absences—especially extended ones—can have a major impact on treasury teams. To keep things running smoothly whenever a key team member is out of the office, treasury departments should prepare via cross-training.
Cross-training is typically conducted under the assumption that employees will be absent for a short time. Employees with COVID-19 may spend weeks away from the office, so it’s important to cross-train employees not only in in their direct team members’ work but also in the processes of their peers on other teams. Accounts receivable staff can learn how to do accounts payables’ check runs, and accounts payable staff can train in daily cash posting. Make sure employees have access to the necessary systems they are cross-trained in, whether account opening, signatory tracking or specific product software.
While cross-training on new systems, you may also want to refresh primary and backup users on processes and technology that have changed significantly over the last year.
Use Employee Input to Build Your Return to Office Plan
As you craft your company’s return-to-office plans, it’s important to not only consider physical space and processes, but the employees themselves. Employees understand the organization’s remote capabilities as well as their individual needs and considerations. After more than a year of a pandemic and remote work, many employees expect a new relationship with their jobs and the workplace. Given increased turnover and a labor shortage, employers and their treasury departments may need to respond. That begins with building your return-to-office plan around employee input. As you draft your plan, consider a few questions:
- Would a prolonged period of understaffing be more or less detrimental to your team’s success than continuing to work remotely or in a hybrid model?
- What happens if some employees prefer more time in the office, while others aren’t willing to return to an in-office environment?
- How can revamped processes and technology help create a flexible work structure that works for all employees?
The bottom line: There’s no one-size-fits-all to return-to-office plans for corporate treasuries. Take a holistic approach and ensure your people planning includes process changes and technology investments that minimizes physical dependencies. Also, consider leaning on long-term relationships with your banking team to craft a plan that works for your business.
J.P. Morgan’s Corporate Treasury Consulting team can help you build a comprehensive technology strategy that works for your organization. Fill out the form below to get in touch with us today to learn how to get started.