Advantages and disadvantages of remote working from the customer’s point of view

Whether you have employees who don’t feel ready to return to the office, or just wondering if there would be any benefits to re-establishing in-person customer meetings, you want to know all of your options. Here’s what you’ll need to consider before deciding what’s right for your business.

Working remotely means more cybersecurity needs

With employees working from home and, in some cases, using their own devices, businesses need to redouble their efforts to protect employee, business, and customer data and need to focus more on cybersecurity and employee training. employees to make sure they know how to protect confidential data.

The first step towards data protection is to make sure that you and all employees are using a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN is an encrypted tunnel through which a local or remote user can connect to a server, access company applications, and share resources and files. Because the tunnel is encrypted, no one outside of it, including your ISP, can read the data, according to Danny Severns, contributor to AccountingWEB and president of Essential Integrated Data, Ltd. From your work in a public place using public WiFi, you can buy private VPN client software from many different vendors, usually for a low monthly fee, from $ 4 to $ 12 per month per user, Severns explains.

However, a VPN will not solve all security concerns. Nonetheless, it is still a solid protection against hackers, which makes the job of data theft much more difficult than it is worth.

You will need to make sure that you and all staff are trained on how to make secure video calls and on the best practices for using video calling and social media. You will also need to educate customers on how to protect information, as many customers tend to use Dropbox or unencrypted emails or view confidential information in public on a phone or tablet. According to Randy Johnston, CEO of NMGI and another frequent contributor to AccountingWEB, security must be a top priority, but it must be taken care of without sacrificing the customer experience. Once you have a platform and service offerings that meet your customers’ needs, choose technology that supports scalable and repeatable processes.

“You need to carefully consider external tools for customers such as SmartVault for document storage or Hubdoc for document retrieval. Customers will touch these tools frequently and their customer experience is affected by their technology experience, ”said Johnston in“ How to Make Things Easier for Your Client and You, ”published on AccountingWEB in November 2021.

Flexible hours benefit you and your clients

Time spent traveling to and from the office can instead be allocated to appointments with clients who wish to meet before 9:00 a.m. or after 5:00 p.m. since they don’t have to factor in travel time, time spent getting children to and from school, etc. Some employees may even find that working early in the morning or later in the evening fits their schedule better, and some clients may prefer to schedule meetings during these hours as well to fit their busy schedules.

Paul Miller, founder and owner of Business by Design, told Thompson Reuters’ Heather Walker that tax appointments that are held take virtually less time than face-to-face meetings.

“When customers walked in, they were waiting in a lobby, having coffee, chatting, etc. All of that is now removed, and what I see is much more efficient,” Miller said in “Is Virtual CPA Here to Stay?” “ published by Thompson Reuters in April 2021.

However, you need to be prepared for the virtual meeting, which involves having expertise in the software you are using and making sure you know exactly what is displayed on your computer screen.

While Miller doesn’t completely avoid face-to-face meetings, he finds virtual meetings to be much more effective.

“If there are several clients like spouses or partners in different places, the virtual is much easier. Logistically, I think it makes a lot more sense now, and customers are comfortable knowing there is always a connection available, ”Miller said.

Not all customers will have access to the technology

Although people have become familiar with the technology over the past couple of years due to social distancing and working from home, some still feel uncomfortable using the technology and would rather meet in person. This can be especially true for older customers who are uncomfortable with a computer or other device. A February 2021 report by the nonprofit Older Adults Technology Services found that 22 million older Americans did not have internet access, according to “Optimizing technology for the elderly”, an article by Tori DeAngelis published by the American Psychological Association in July 2021. “Black and Latin older people are, respectively, more than 2.5 and 3.6 times more likely than the general population to not have access to a computer, ”the article reads.

That said, some older people who avoid the internet don’t because technology is a barrier. Seniors are more likely to acquire new technological skills when that technology is of value to them, and their resistance to technology is often a “value-based choice,” according to “Why do older people really avoid technology? “ an article by Joelle Renstrom published by Slate magazine in July 2020. Research suggests the barrier is often a “value and product misalignment,” and tech companies often ignore the needs of this demographic, according to the article. Given this information, companies should implement customer-centric technology that delivers clear customer value, and asking older customers what technology products they are already using could help companies determine what other technologies might be of interest to them.

For customers who want to use the technology but don’t know how, organizations specializing in digital literacy for the elderly can help. These organizations have seen renewed interest since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to “Calming computer nervousness: help for the elderly who are not tech-savvy” an article by Judith Graham published by the Washington Post in July 2021. Older Adults Technology Services (OATS), which is affiliated with AARP, is just one of many organizations that maintain a national hotline for people with seeking technical assistance, according to the article. It also operates Senior Planet tech training centers in six cities nationwide, including Denver, New York, and San Antonio, and offers free virtual classes.

Seniors can also have privacy concerns that prevent them from using the technology, which makes sense as scammers often target the elderly. Businesses might need to reassure these customers that their personal data is secure and offer them advice on best practices for keeping information confidential online.

Remote work means a larger pool of candidates

Allowing employees to work from home (or anywhere) allows hiring managers to consider applicants who are outside of the company’s city or state, providing managers with a larger candidate pool. broad and more diverse. Human resources experts estimate that companies that don’t offer flexible or remote working are missing out on 70% of job seekers, according to “HR Experts: Companies requiring office work could lose 70% of applicants. ” an article by Jennifer Liu published by CNBC Make It in November 2021. Additionally, human resources experts told CNBC that companies looking for top talent should know that most high-level and in-demand employees have the above and want to work for a company that offers flexibility.

Remote working offers employers the opportunity to create a more welcoming working environment for groups who have been marginalized, according to “How remote working can improve diversity in the workplace”, an article by Forbes board member Jason Richmond published by Forbes in July 2020. This includes new parents, especially those who are single, and parents of children of all ages; women; people with disabilities and more. Employers can also support their diversity and inclusion initiatives by hiring remote workers, although there are both risks and benefits to doing so, Forbes said. The potential for exclusion increases when employees work remotely, so managers must be diligent in staying in touch with these employees.

“[Managers] need to be aware of how they include or exclude all team members in online meetings and keep in mind that some people may lack stable Wi-Fi connections or other technological tools that managers maintain for granted, ”said Richmond.

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