Business Basics
3 ways for finance leaders to maximize business impact

3 ways for finance leaders to maximize business impact

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As more of the global population becomes vaccinated and travel restrictions ease, a return to relative normalcy seems imminent. Warmer weather beckons beyond your office walls. The kids have been released from school. Now is the time to reset your work priorities, optimize processes, and embrace this summer as an opportunity to reconnect, reclaim your leisure time, and come up for air after a grueling year.

Stay-at-home orders blurred the line between work and personal time. Many began working longer hours once commutes no longer necessitated leaving the office at five. Now, finance leaders can build a better way forward that maximizes impact and increases time to do what you love most. The middle market segment is particularly well-placed to pioneer solutions because it is big enough to implement changes on a wide scale, but usually small enough to remain agile. Here are three ways to make the most of those advantages:

Find flexibility

For finance leaders, it is important to foster a healthy work environment by modeling work-life balance. Encourage employees to take time off when they need it. Normalize the act of declining meeting invitations that fall outside normal working hours. Research shows that vacation boosts employee productivity and overall performance, so ensure that company policies (as well as unspoken rules) allow employees to take time off when they need it.

In short, finding and fostering flexibility is a long-term winning strategy for the entire organization. Doing so requires establishing organizational expectations and investing in smart tools that can create greater efficiencies. Whether that’s faster payment processing or more streamlined AP management, new digital platforms can offer time-saving solutions for busy professionals.

Unlock more “me” time in the workday

Shifting manual work to automated technology is among the best ways to reclaim valuable time.

Embracing advancements in software-powered automation can enable you to leave time-intensive back-office tasks in technology’s capable hands. This then provides employees with the freedom to focus on what matters most to them, both in and out of the office. AI-enabled platforms can be particularly helpful for saving time, while reducing human error, because they become more accurate at interpreting data over time.

Adopting such tools allows employees to accomplish more than ever with less burnout. Even senior executives will find that the tedium of double-checking figures or waiting for signatures decreases with the right tech. It’s a quick and effective way to produce meaningful results for the business.

A couple laughing in a car on the Golden Gate Bridge

Navigate new boundaries 

Setting boundaries – then helping employees do the same – will be important to once again delineate between work and home. This means clearly communicating your availability, prioritizing time-sensitive tasks, and shutting down the computer at a reasonable time each evening. It can also mean being mindful of your bandwidth, finding ways to optimize it, and not taking on more than you can accomplish every week. There will be times when demand for your time spikes and longer hours are necessary, but overtime and overworking do not have to be a daily practice.

For many, the COVID-19 pandemic curbed normal activities and cut down on leisure time. A new chapter – one in which summer can be enjoyed to its fullest and travel can resume – is on the horizon. Office responsibilities do not have to hold anyone back from taking advantage of it. So, what are you planning?

The out-of-office checklist for a relaxing holiday

A break from the office can be anything but relaxing if you’re worried about what you left behind. The right plan is essential for helping operations continue smoothly in your absence. To prevent stress from sneaking into leisure time, remember the following before you check out:

  • Make a to-do list of everything in process that should be picked up while you’re away or upon your return
  • Consider asking your coworkers to put together a “to-done” list for your return, outlining what they’ve accomplished, what you’ve missed, and how you can easily jump back into the workflow. Be prepared to do the same for them when the time comes
  • Loop co-workers into email conversations
  • Share handoff documents or any essential materials with your teams – including context, supporting materials or client feedback they may not have access to in your absence
  • Set up an out-of-office auto-response – and don’t forget about the inbox on your phone!
  • Rethink the traditional OOO message. In addition to including the date of your return to the office and a forwarding contact you can rely on to respond to any urgent emails, add a fun spin by sharing where you’ll be or what you’ll be focusing on. This will encourage others to respect your time away from the desk and help them respect boundaries — especially if you’re heading to a different country or time zone. Plus, it shows that you have interests outside the corporate world
  • If you manage employees, communicate who they should contact in your absence if they have any questions or managerial needs
  • Send a calendar invitation to your team members so they can easily remember that you’re OOO – just be sure to check the “not busy” box so you don’t accidentally claim their whole day with a phantom meeting
  • Delete work-related apps from your phone to avoid stress while away from your desk
  • If you need to check work emails, allocate one time during the day to do so

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