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April 7, 2020 | 3-minute read (471 words)
It has long been clear that employees want more flexible working options, but the coronavirus emergency has essentially forced the issue, requiring many staff members who previously worked in the office to start working remotely. That shift to remote work has now gotten the attention of chief financial officers, who are seeing so many benefits from the arrangement that they’re interested in making some of these changes permanent, even after the stay-at-home orders end.
That’s the word from a Gartner, Inc. survey of 317 finance leaders and CFOs that took place last week. The survey responses indicate that 74 percent of those polled plan to shift “at least five percent of their previously on-site workforce to permanently remote positions post-COVID-19,” the results indicate.
Move Could Generate Significant Cost Savings
Maintaining an office space, along with amenities there for employees, can be an expensive proposition, and remote work is one way to eliminate those costs. “CFOs, already under pressure to tightly manage costs, clearly sense an opportunity to realize the cost benefits of a remote workforce,” said Alexander Bant, practice vice president for research with the Gartner Finance Practice. “In fact, nearly a quarter of respondents said they will move at least 20 percent of their on-site employees to permanent remote positions,” he added.
In addition, four percent of respondents said they will keep half of their staff members remote after the coronavirus emergency ends, and two percent noted that they will have more than half of employees in remote positions after the COVID-19 period is over.
Additional Cost-Saving Measures on the Table
The shift to a remote work setting isn’t the only way CFOs are working to contain costs during the coronavirus emergency. Previous Gartner surveys suggest that the following actions are also on the table for CFOs:
- Leading cross-functional “value-capture” teams to identify cost saving opportunities
- Treating the COVID-19 situation as they would a major acquisition
- Deferring non-essential technology expenditures
- Conducting zero-basing of capital projects
- Freezing marketing spend or shifting it to social
- Reevaluating real estate footprints and seeking cost savings in rent
- Freezing office supply spending
- Negotiating cost-sharing arrangements with vendors
- Cutting sponsorship spending throughout summer and fall.
These expenditures aren’t the only areas where CFOs are working to save money, they are also looking at ways to save on employee costs, by implementing such tactics as hiring freezes and considering furloughs, Gartner found.
As the coronavirus emergency continues to impact businesses, it's likely that even more contingency plans will be put into place. But one area where CFOs don't see big changes is in the financial reporting they must undertake.
"Within the finance function itself, 90 percent of CFOs previously reported to us that they expect minimal disruptions to their accounting close process, with almost all activities able to be executed off-site," Bant said.