Virtual Finance Forum – Sharing Best Practice in Response to Lockdown

Rutherford Cross is currently hosting a number of virtual networking sessions on Microsoft Teams. These forums are a chance for finance leads from different sectors to discuss how their business is adapting to the current challenging circumstances and share ideas and best practice on how they are managing staff and keeping morale up during the lockdown.

Our most recent discussion had David Stewart, Head of Finance/ERP Project Leader of Gordon & MacPhail, Janine Beckett, Finance Director of Calmac Ferries, Neville Wood, Head of Finance of City Facilities Management, Martin Shand, Finance Director of Ascensos, and Ross McWilliams, Senior Management Accountant of Peak Scientific.

The discussion focused around the challenges each business has faced over the last few weeks of lockdown and included the group sharing specific challenges to their business and function, how they were adapting to managing a remote finance team and where were they getting the best external support and advice.  There were some common themes from each participant despite operating in differing sectors.  Some of the key takeaways from the conversation included:

The majority of businesses had a ‘task force’ in place from around mid-March setting out plans for how the business could adapt to manage the lockdown. This involved IT departments at the forefront and in some cases setting up 800 staff to be able to work from home in a matter of days.

Health and Safety Measures

For the businesses with factories operating and essential workers on site there were clear guidelines put in place for health and safety purposes around social distancing, PPE equipment, temperature checks, ensuring workspaces deep cleaned daily etc. Main challenge being faced here at times is level of absence due to self-isolation and sickness.

Furlough Scheme

All businesses had some staff furloughed ranging from 10% up to 70%

Managing Virtual Teams

All participants are taking a similar approach to managing teams with daily catch ups in the morning to set the day and reviews continuing via video link. There have been positive experiences all round from people adapting to working this way. It was highlighted trusting your teams to deliver was very important particularly when people are managing home/work life in unprecedented times. Friday afternoon team get-togethers are common as a social way to end the week.

Looking Ahead

No-one is expecting to be back to their offices anytime soon, with a phased return being the common expectation, with extended flexible home working for at least part of the week.  There was acknowledgement that the pace at which everyone has adapted and maintained the same levels of output has created a strong case for adopting this more flexible way of working for the long-term, as well as the cost saving element of reducing office space. HR teams are working closely with Senior Management Teams to make sure the correct risk management has been done for people WFH long term, and staff wellness and mental health is at forefront of organisations’ duty of care throughout the pandemic.

Whilst it has been an incredibly difficult time, our finance leads concluded that businesses and their people have adapted very positively and at great pace to manage the situation as best as possible. Some of the businesses have seen new contracts and business emerge during this time and looking ahead that will continue.

What is clear is that those companies and organisations that have modified their offerings to suit the changing environment will emerge with new opportunities and revenue streams, particularly if their competitors have failed to adapt.

We will be hosting a number of virtual networking forums in the coming weeks.   Should you be interested in joining one of these forums please contact [email protected]