March 31, 2020

Preparing your advice team to work remotely.

By Scott Brewster

A robust Business Continuity Plan (BCP) ensures your team can work and collaborate effectively wherever they are located.

For financial advice practices, this means ensuring advisers have access to the equipment and information they need to perform their roles.

Here are five key tips to help you set your practice up for success.

1: Set clear expectations for your team

Only around half of all employees know what’s required of them at work. That’s bad news if your team is going to be working remotely.

Before you move to a more flexible working arrangement, ensure you set clear goals and KPIs for your team and check they understand their roles and responsibilities.

2: Continue meeting face-to-face

When your team is working remotely, it’s important you still have regular face-to-face catch ups to celebrate success, discuss progress and assign or reassign work.

Video conferencing tools like Zoom are great for this and allow you to communicate directly with your employees wherever they are located.

The flexibility of video means you can even keep your track pants and Ugg boots on provided your top half is dressed professionally.

There are lots of different ways you can use Zoom to enhance meetings with your employees, here are some key tips from the Zoom team.

It’s important to maintain a similar operating rhythm outside the office as you would have had inside it. This helps your team stay focused and connected and ensures they make the most of their time at work.

3: Put the right technology in place

For your team to work effectively outside the office, they need the right digital tools.

Solutions that enable remote working include:

  1. Secure internet access
  2. Collaboration software
  3. Document management systems

Let’s look at each of these in more detail.

Secure internet access

To ensure your team can access client information safely, they need secure internet access that protects critical data from hackers and unauthorised users.

There are several options for businesses seeking secure internet access, the most popular of these being a Virtual Private Network or VPN.

A VPN is cloud-based software that encrypts online traffic to help hide identifying information and ensure your employees stay safe online.

VPNs allow your employees to log into your network from their home internet connection without putting critical client data at risk.

The use of VPNs is growing, with one quarter of all Internet users accessing a VPN in the last month.

There are a range of VPN providers to select from, here’s a comparison guide from PC Magazine.

Collaboration software

Ensuring your team has the right tools to collaborate effectively while working remotely is another key thing to consider.

Not only do collaboration solutions allow employees to communicate and share work with each other, they also allow you to check the progress of projects and assign or reassign tasks to ensure an even distribution of workload.

There are many collaboration tools to choose from, here’s a comparison guide from PC Magazine.

Here’s how Slack helps organisations stay connected wherever they are.

Many financial advice practices still deal in paper forms and documents which makes it difficult for employees to access client information remotely.

Cloud-based document management systems like FileBound allow businesses to source, store and access critical client information digitally.

For advice practices, solutions such as Umlaut’s [AdvisorTools]/solutions/advisortools), Migrate and Connect, harness FileBound technology to digitise critical client data and seamlessly integrate with software systems such as Xplan, Myob, Xeppo and others.

4: Ensure advisers have the right equipment

When transitioning to remote working, it’s important to ensure employees have the right furniture and equipment to do their jobs effectively.

Generally, remote workers require:

  • Laptop or PC
  • Mobile phone
  • Desk
  • Office chair
  • Keyboard
  • Mouse
  • Monitor, and
  • Docking station (to hook the laptop to the monitor)

For financial advice practices, it’s also important to consider where and how advisers will meet with clients. If they are going to be visiting them at their homes, they might need a company car. If they will be meeting them at an offsite location, you’ll need to ensure the facility offers the right equipment for them to do their jobs.

5: Test and optimise

Generally, a business’s remote working capability is designed to support only a fraction of its workforce at any one time, as most employees are expected to be working in the office.

All or most of a team working remotely can introduce significant stress on systems and processes, which is why it’s so important to test and optimise your systems regularly to ensure service continuity.

One issue businesses frequently face is insufficient bandwidth for their VPN causing issues with network access and collaboration tools.

It’s important to test your VPN and make adjustments if required, by either increasing bandwidth with your supplier or switching to an alternative solution.

Ultimately, when moving to a more flexible working environment, every business experiences unique challenges based on its structure, culture and systems.

The key to building an effective remote working capability is responding quickly to technical and operational challenges to solve any issues before they impact your business.

Preparing your team to work remotely? We can help

At Umlaut, we specialise in helping Financial Advisory firms improve process efficiency through a suite of digital products and solutions.

If you’d like to move to a paperless practice and enable your team to work remotely, get in touch today and find out how we can help you save time, earn more money and bring joy back to your business.

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