What Keeps CFOs Up at Night? Uncertainty and Isolation in the New Normal

By The Intersect Group

The economy is improving! In fact, it’s growing so much that economists have said they believe the 2nd Quarter 2021 will see growth of around 10 percent!

The economists also said that while the current 2nd quarter will be strongest this year, the “boom is not expected to fizzle, and growth is projected to be stronger than during the pre-pandemic into 2022.”

Great news, right!?

Of course! But there’s still some uncertainty regarding the future.   After all, this growth is predicated on COVID-19 fading into the past.

But let’s ignore that worry for now. What else could be keeping CFOs up at night?

Employee isolation due to working at home and a subsequent lessening of co-worker cohesion

For example: while most people have adapted to working from home, the informal flow of information – in which employees get company news via the grapevine as well as impromptu ideas from each other when they stop by “for a minute” by each other’s work stations – has decreased considerably. This could become a more permanent loss as many companies plan to keep employees working remotely at least a few days a week in the coming months.

Or, as this article put it: CFOs “now realize just how much they relied on chance breakroom encounters and casual check-ins to learn vital information that helps [employees] work effectively” with others.

The question therefore arises: how can CFOs keep that free flow of information….flowing?

This isn’t just “keeping remote employees engaged.”

It goes beyond that and has to do with how to keep that “free flow of information” going when your team members can’t meet up for lunch, can’t pass by someone’s work station for a quick idea session, can’t stop by your office with a “Got a minute? I’m stumped on something” question.

There is definitely a danger in losing these “ties that happily bind” feeling among your team members.

For example, take a look at Skygear.io, which several years ago (long before the pandemic), started having employees work from home a few days a week. The company soon enough returned to full in-person work because:

“Team members who didn’t come to the office missed out on chances to strengthen their social ties through ad hoc team meals and discussions around interesting new tech launches.”

Employees also greatly missed impromptu meetups with colleagues: “You know—we’re drinking coffee, or maybe, ‘Hey, want to take a walk?’ I miss that.’”

Most companies value these types of serendipitous interactions.

Suggestions for moving forward

This McKinsey & Company article goes into great detail with an easy-to-navigate chart regarding ideas for the best types of hybrid on-site/remote workforces.  It also offers suggestions on how to move ahead to a hybrid workforce.

(Tellingly, the article makes a point to say it doesn’t recommend an entirely remote workforce at all!)

It also warns that having even just one-third of your workforce working remotely 90 percent of the time will result in “more pronounced” challenges to “social cohesion.”

McKinsey’s suggestions summarized

  • Choose your model

How much of a hybrid model do you want (and do you want it at all)? Your decision will hinge on what’s most important to you: employee productivity? Saving on real estate? Attracting great talent? Your employee experience?

  • Managing the transition

Many people working entirely remotely become disenfranchised (especially if others work on-site, at least part-time). Onboarding new hires also becomes more difficult (as does helping them become a part of your company culture). Your managers and leaders will need to become more inspirational, cultivate informal interactions, and shouldn’t rely solely on virtual interactions.

  • Hybrid virtual teams

Hybrid teams will have to adopt new normal ways of doing things to maintain and even improve team productivity, collaboration, and innovation.

Again, the article goes into great detail and offers terrific ideas, both pro, and con. It’s definitely worth a read, and we highly recommend it as you move ahead with any plans for a hybrid in-person/remote workforce.

It will help any CFO – or any other company leader – sleep more soundly moving forward.

Finding great IT, finance/accounting pros as the economy grows

We’re optimists: we believe the number of new COVID cases will start to fall considerably in most parts of the country, which will lead to economic growth (just as the experts say it will).

That means you may need to hire a few terrific IT or finance/accounting professionals.

Contact The Intersect Group to learn more about how we can keep your hiring on pace with the economy’s growth.