According to the Federal Reserve, the percentage of Americans working from home has tripled in the last 15 years. Now, the effects of the coronavirus have forced even more to work from their home offices, bedrooms and living rooms.
What does this growing trend mean for businesses? Like any change in the business landscape, more remote work means new challenges and opportunities.
On the one hand, workers are contending with the challenges of remote communication, working to onboard new technologies, struggling with how to keep their work and social lives separate, and figuring out how to manage processes that — at first glance — seem to require an in-person presence.
On the other hand, savvy leaders will find that addressing these challenges doesn’t just have to result in regaining the status quo; this could be an opportunity to make your business more efficient than it’s ever been.
Many mission-critical tasks that seem to require a human presence can actually be automated.
Consider, for example, the case where workers need to handle sensitive information over a secured network. Performing tasks involving sensitive information over an employee’s home network often violates government regulations or presents a security risk, but you may feel that you don't have a good alternative right now.
An automated system, however, could be integrated into your secure network, performing sensitive tasks without the need for direct supervision. What’s more, if such a system ran into trouble, it could send an alert to the relevant worker, letting them know that there’s an issue that they actually need to handle on-site. Workers can accomplish their tasks from the safety of their homes, while automated software keeps things running in the office.
This is just one use case for how an intelligent process automation (IPA) tool like UST SmartOpsTM offers peace of mind. Some leaders may be concerned that the switch to remote work means that they’ll have difficulty coordinating or overseeing the basic, must-have functions of a business.
Rather than keeping a worker on-site for emergencies or frequently checking in with remote workers for status updates, you can implement an IPA tool that works constantly and automatically all on its own. Human beings, no matter how dedicated, can’t always be on. Here’s some examples of how tools like UST SmartOps can support your business even when your human workers are unavailable.
Remote IT is already fairly common, but certain tasks still require an in-person presence, and remote IT work can cause issues of its own.
Particularly for large organizations, transitioning to a remote workforce presents major IT challenges. Suddenly, huge numbers of employees are working on a new suite of devices, none of which you can physically access. Identifying at-risk devices and patching and updating them on an ongoing basis could be significantly time intensive for your IT department. UST SmartOps, however, could query the configuration of devices connecting to your network and regularly push out updates as needed.
There’s also the increase in helpdesk tickets that you can expect to encounter once your workforce starts to become more reliant on your tech stack to replace in-person functions. As workers start to access servers and learn how to use new tools, UST SmartOps can automatically address common helpdesk tickets or route outlier cases appropriately.
Finally, transitioning to a remote work environment is going to give your remote IT professionals more responsibilities no matter what — suddenly, they’ll have to practice far more remote monitoring and management than they had before. UST SmartOps helps IT professionals perform low-level but time-consuming tasks faster, ensuring they have the capacity to handle any additional IT issues arising from the switch to a remote workforce. What's more, they'll have the time to be more proactive and strategic when implementing remote IT solutions, reducing the number of issues they have to deal with in the future.
Automating your invoice process presents a fantastic opportunity to streamline your finance workflow. Using UST SmartOps, an organization could:
This example, of course, could apply to any organization, whether they’re working remotely or not. The key benefit to using a platform like UST SmartOps to remotely automate your invoice process is that all of the relevant data is handled by one system. This single system can then automatically report key data to the finance manager, procurement manager or other stakeholders. Reporting on the status of these business processes in this way means that these stakeholders don’t have to email, Slack, video conference or call each other over and over again just to gain access to the information they need to do their jobs.
If you’re going to be working remotely, then you’ll need to master the practice of remote hiring as well. For a process that so often relies on physical paperwork and coordination between multiple parties, transitioning the hiring process to a remote basis runs the risk of slowing the process down, or stopping it entirely.
Automation ensures that as much of the hiring process is driven forward as is possible without human intervention. UST SmartOps, for instance, can read applicant resumes and map applicant skills’ to the job profile, alerting HR managers of good fits. If a decision is made to move ahead, UST SmartOps can automatically:
Without the benefit of having every stakeholder in the hiring process in the same room, each of these tasks that has to be done manually will push back an applicant’s start date. For companies that need a large and reliable influx of new employees, automating this process ensures that hiring progresses smoothly.
Don’t worry; for most cases, we can configure UST SmartOps and onboard new clients remotely. If you want to hear more about how UST SmartOps can support your business during its transition to a remote workforce, get in touch with us.