Making the transition to remote work for many companies can initially be a challenge. At Lockstep Collect, our company was built on a remote work model and we want to share some of the best practices we’ve found to make your team productive and successful when moving accounts receivable operations to a remote work environment. In this blog series we will cover everything from getting setup to developing proper rituals to mastering team communication.
Building a Remote Work Infrastructure for Accounts Receivable
The first place to start when moving your accounts receivable operations to a remote work method is to ensure you have the right foundation. The building blocks of remote work rest on getting your infrastructure right.
First things first, your team needs to have access to a device to do their work from home. It’s not enough to assume every employee has a personal laptop that they can do their work from. Every employee should be given a laptop by the company that they can use daily to complete their work. Your IT department should ensure that every laptop is working properly before issued to each accounts receivable department employee. If your team doesn’t have laptops that are fast, up-to-date and loaded with all the programs they need, you will see productivity diminish.
It’s imperative that every remote work employee has access to fast and reliable internet when working remotely as an accounts receivable team. According to Buffer, 78% of respondents to their work-from-home survey said that their company did not pay for their Internet. Although this is not the norm, your company should consider offering to pay for employee Internet services, especially if the employee does not already have access. The ability to work from home should not become a financial burden on employees, especially since many of the tasks they are required to do need Internet access.
For accounts receivable teams, this is a big consideration. Most accounts receivable professionals spend majority of their day calling accounts that owe money and handling disputes over the phone. Does your team have access to field phone calls when they are not sitting next to their desk phone? One way you can move phone access remotely is to use an IVR system. All collections phone calls will be forwarded to individual’s cell phones and a key component of the collections process won’t be interrupted.
Another option is to use a virtual PBX system, such as Ring Central. This allows collectors to have an IP phone at their home that works just like their desk phone.
Access to Information
Consider the daily routine of an accounts receivable professional and the multitude of documents and information they need access to – invoices, aging reports, statements, sales orders, customer account and contact information, etc. In a remote situation, do they have access to the resources they need to do work? All these vital accounts receivable documents should live in a shared, online tool that every team member has access and visibility to. It might seem like an easy answer to use Outlook or Sharepoint, but files, folders and inboxes will get messy quickly. Although these tools are great, they’re not built for the accounting process. To successfully master at-home work for accounts receivable teams, it makes sense to consider a tool built specifically for putting accounts receivable online. Collectors will not have to switch back and forth between Excel documents and Outlook emails that are likely already out-of-date. A cloud-based accounts receivable platform keeps critical AR documents and communications stored in one place.
Ultimately, the first step to enabling remote work for accounts receivable teams is to get the right infrastructure and tools into place. Without them, your team will have limited visibility into their accounts and they will struggle to remain productive. As long as they have a device, access to Wi-Fi, a way to contact and answer calls from customers and tool for visibility into critical customer information, they’ll be set up for success.
Tune back in for the next installment of our blog series on mastering collections in a remote work environment: Establish a Good Accounts Receivable Work Environment at Home