Just a few years ago, the idea of a remote accounts receivable team seemed implausible. Coming up on three years after a global pandemic, common obstacles to remote A/R work – including the paper-based processes and conventional management practices – have faded away. Modern A/R teams are working remotely and effectively. In this article you’ll learn how, with good management and A/R automation, your enterprise can take full advantage of the benefits of remote accounts receivable.
Why Should You Consider a Remote Accounts Receivable Department?
Though the number of employees working remotely has declined this year, remote work is likely to become a permanent part of workforce management. Experts project an increase in remote work opportunities in 2023, and nearly three-quarters of CFOs surveyed said they plan to shift some employees to remote work permanently.
But should your business make the transition to a remote accounts receivable department? Several factors point to the affirmative. Well before the pandemic, turnover in A/R departments was high. The complexity of A/R jobs, and demanding internal and external customers, make hiring and retaining A/R talent a top challenge. Strong reasons to consider remote work in this area include:
Employees Want the Option to Work Remotely
It turns out that employees prefer remote work: 76% of those surveyed said they’d prefer their companies to make flexible working permanent. With the effects of the Great Resignation and quiet quitting still looming large, enterprises are formalizing remote work options as a way to retain their employees. If your company rejects a hybrid model, you’re likely to lose top talent.
According to one study, remote workers report higher productivity due to reducing commuting time and fewer lengthy meetings. The transition to remote work provides an initial boost to company productivity, and though that declines over time, remote workers are maintaining pre-work-from-home productivity levels.
Bigger Pool of Applicants; Extended Work Hours
Employees who prefer to work at night may be able to do so remotely, depending on company policy. Remote workers also report working more hours, including weekends. Enterprises willing to post remote accounts receivable jobs can hire across different time zones, increasing your potential pool of candidates.
Time Savings and Lower Costs
Remote work reduces the time and costs associated with work, both for you and your employees. Companies can save on the fixed costs of a physical workspace, while remote employees save the time and cost of commuting, promoting better work-life balance.
The Challenges of Managing a Remote Team in A/R
Remote work has proven benefits, but it also creates challenges – specifically for A/R teams. Here are some of the potential downsides of managing a remote team that you should consider:
Feelings of Isolation
Remote work isn’t for everyone. Some employees may enjoy having more control over their work-life balance and time with family, but others tend to feel isolated, especially those living alone. The switch to remote work and accompanying feelings of loneliness can have a negative effect on your employee's productivity and overall well-being.
Hiring New Employees
Hiring remote employees widens your talent pool, but keep in mind that new employees may have a steeper learning curve as they try to get to know the business and become familiar with the technology used in the remote work model without in-person training. Remote learning may contribute to new hires making mistakes as they learn and dealing with feelings of frustration throughout the process. These early errors with A/R reconciliation and/or settlement could have a bigger impact on the enterprise than mistakes made in some other job area.
Inconsistent Access to Documents
Remote accounts receivable teams may be hampered by inconsistent internet speed and coverage. Poor connection can create delays in access to documents and reduce productivity. Erratic workflows are a particular problem for A/R teams, which need reliable access to document signing and approvals to get work done.
Performance Tracking and Monitoring
It can be harder for those managing a remote team to track department progress as well as individual employee performance. At the point of transition, you may experience a drop in productivity as employees adjust to new job structures and technology tools.
Solutions to Hiring Remote Employees and Switching to Remote Work
Despite some of these challenges, because it is a valuable talent strategy, many companies are hiring remote employees and moving to remote work practices. Adopting a hybrid work model and A/R automation can help you make the transition more effectively.
Hybrid Work Models
Hybrid work models allow employees to split their time between remote work and working in their organization’s physical workplace. This model can be customized to the needs and goals of a particular organization or department. According to Accenture research, hybrid flexibility is a win-win: 83% of employees prefer a hybrid work model, and 63% of high-growth companies have already implemented it.
Adopting an A/R automation platform can ease the transition to remote work and help you optimize the remote work trend on many fronts. Avoiding costly A/R errors is a primary benefit. With manual processes, settlement and reconciliation errors happen due to delays in communication or access, or simply human error. Often, incorrect amounts are applied, funds are applied to the wrong account, and small errors can springboard into big issues if they are not caught and corrected in a timely way. Automating A/R processes can significantly reduce settlement mistakes and improve efficiency in reconciliation.
Another key benefit of A/R automation is the staffing and operational efficiencies. When large enterprises put their smaller business customers on autopilot using receivables automation, new operational efficiencies enable A/R staff to stop doing routine A/R tasks and concentrate on adding value to the enterprise instead.
Automating mundane tasks frees employees to do higher-order-thinking work and take on new challenges, both of which are more satisfying day-to-day and can also help employees advance their careers. Use of automation can also help employees to reduce stress and find a better work-life balance. Recent research indicates 89% of employees are more satisfied with their job as a result of using automation in the workplace, and 84% are more satisfied with their company due to use of workplace automation.
A trade credit automation platform like Apruve enables large enterprises to offer more desirable, less stressful remote accounts receivable jobs, and reallocate A/R staff to more strategic work. Through operational efficiencies, automation helps companies save 50% of fixed costs, and reduce the possibility of mistakes. All of these factors make remote accounts receivable less of a risk for large enterprises.
On balance, the advantages of remote work tend to outweigh the negatives, especially when you reduce the risk with A/R automation. With a platform like Apruve, A/R teams can easily automate for more efficient processes and transition to managing a remote team.
If you’re exploring a remote accounts receivable department, contact the specialists at Apruve. Find out how A/R automation can benefit your employees, your customers, and your organization.