As we enter September and begin our third season of COVID-19, while there are "green shoots" on the horizon regarding potential vaccines and indications of a rebound of the economy, it is clear conducting business under COVID-19 has developed into a long distance marathon rather than a 100-metre dash.
Like all business functions across the supply chain, finance was impacted by COVID-19. Our work flow was interrupted by the need to work remotely and I am proud to say my team rose to the occasion to adjust our sails to our new normal. As the head of finance, there are a few lessons that I have learned over the course of this long distance marathon that I will undoubtedly continue to apply as we manage through COVID-19:
1. Increase your planning horizon:
The timely execution and completion of critical projects and events beyond our day to day workflow require my managers and I to engage earlier and more often than what we did prior to COVID-19. The current environment is challenging and complex events can take longer to complete. For finance these items are the annual budget, board reporting, year-end audit and other critical functions and I have found engaging earlier has paid important dividends.
2. Over communicate:
In the past I could rely on timely one on one personal interactions with my critical stakeholders. Today everyone is simply busier than before and I have found in the current challenging environment a progression of back to back video conferences must be augmented by a follow up IM or phone call.
3. Stay personal:
One of the aspects of working at the office I miss the most is the daily interaction with the people of finance as well as other colleagues. It is easy to become more distant and less personable when working remotely for an extended period of time. I have taken the lead in increasing interactions and found if everyone makes an effort to reach out and stay connected, it helps to keep us working as a team rather than a group of individuals telecommuting. Sometimes it is simply asking how someone and their family is faring or inquiring of a Yankees fan why their team is now in third place in their division while my Chicago Cubs are first in their division. Just because many of us are telecommuting does not mean we have to miss out on those friendly conversations we once had around the water cooler or while getting a cup of coffee.
As we enter into the fall of 2020, keep in mind, conducting business under COVID-19 has developed into a marathon. Although this is a difficult environment, we have found increasing the planning horizon, over communicating and making an effort to stay personal has greatly contributed to finance being able to stay focused on our goals and responsibilities.