Businesses have faced extraordinary challenges throughout the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis. For many organizations, abruptly moving to remote work in March 2020 forced CFOs and finance teams to get innovative in order to reduce inefficiencies and operate more strategically in their new online environments.
With 2022 finally underway and no signs of the pandemic coming to a close, finance teams have to think even more strategically about combating the impact this crisis will continue to have on their organizations in the year ahead.
Here are five ways CFOs and finance teams are facing those challenges head on:
1. To address issues of burnout and retention, CFOs will focus on making work less tedious and more engaging. Employee burnout increased during the pandemic and businesses continue to grapple with “The Great Resignation.” Reducing manual, time-intensive work processes is already a priority for CFOs. Deploying tools to automate tedious processes can help alleviate burnout and also support in attracting new talent. CFOs will be focused on investing time in high-value activities, like predictive analysis and working with business stakeholders, while also providing more engaging work for employees.
2. Remote and hybrid work models are here to stay; CFOs will play an important role in helping businesses adapt. CFOs and the finance function play a critical role in guiding business strategy and making operational decisions across the organization. Remote work continues to have a big impact on expenses and profit margins. On average, companies intend to decrease office space by 30%. In response to COVID-19, many finance teams will remain remote or mostly remote. With mixed feelings on returning to the office, businesses may also need to provide solutions to employees who are remote but seeking co-working space or traveling longer distances into the office a few times a month or quarter.
3. Supply chain issues will continue to significantly impact companies, requiring extra attention from the finance department. Most CFOs said their firms are grappling with pandemic-induced problems in the supply chain. Securing goods early ties up cash, and it is more important to have good credit. To minimize supply chain delay, strong profitability and cash flow are critical.
4. CFOs will increase use of real-time data to drive business performance in the face of the continuing ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, along with supply chain, inflation, taxation and regulation uncertainty. 99% of CFOs want to operate their business using real-time data, but only 16% do so. It’s important for finance teams to have data to drive decisions, and additionally to make it available and usable by business unit leaders to drive performance. Data can help decision makers navigate uncertainties with a little more clarity.
5. As companies return to business travel, an increase in in-person events and new travel policies will require policy and budget shifts. As vaccination rates climb and COVID case levels drop, more companies will bring their internal, remote and hybrid teams together for collaboration and in-person meetings on a regular basis, using budgets previously allocated to facilities or perks. Conferences and trade shows will likely return in full-swing by the second half of 2022, and attendees may be required to show proof of vaccination or negative test results. Companies will need to update their policies accordingly to include COVID-related considerations, for example, paying for COVID testing pre- and post-trip or implementing a regular testing procedure.