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"More employees are desired back in the office"

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Virtual knowledge sharing between peers

Finding the right balance between office and telework

Forecasting in uncertain times

The author of this articleWouter Vanlee - Business Manager
"Getting more employees back to the office." The issue lives among several CFOs, that participated in a recent virtual knowledge circle with TriFinance. The participants were mostly cautiously optimistic, but they realize that a possible second corona wave, in the autumn, could tip over a lot again.

The Blue Chip Boutique Transition & Support (T&S) Antwerp/Hasselt brought financial top executives together virtually for the first time in mid-April. The recent meeting was a sequel to that. Having sufficient cash and forecasting in the longer term were central to the debate in April. This time, teleworking was a common concern. Working from home will continue to happen more than before, but the debaters feel it's time for more employees to return to the office. It indicates that the more we get out of the corona crisis, the more demand arises for a new balance between working at the office and at home.

The participants in the conversation feel that working from home for long periods of time lessens the focus of employees. One of the participants asked his employees if they would like to come back to the office. The answers were fifty-fifty. The fear is still there. The company has not yet decided whether it is going to make the return mandatory. “For the government, teleworking remains the norm for the time being,” the CFO said. But he and his people are tired of talking to screens. Physically being in the same building brings more interaction anyway.

Mandatory return or not

A construction company was already exerting slight coercion on its administrative staff. It argued that when the blue-collar workers are at work on site, the same should apply to the white-collar workers in the office. The CFO did, however, indicate that his organisation has sufficient room to respect social distancing. This is not the case with another interlocutor, who only has room for one third of the employees to work safely. He finds it difficult to force them to come to the office. For the departments he leads, he installed a rotation system: every day they are at the office with two to three per department.

The fear of coming back to the office had fallen back at another firm. There has been an inspection and the organization got a good report. That caused a mindshift among the employees. They were reassured that their workplace was corona safe. But yes, told the CFO, some prefer to work from home because they say they have less stress. However, this is accompanied by less focus. Another CFO alluded to the nice weather, so that some simply take the opportunity to stay at home.

Making assumptions over and over again makes no sense. So they don't include a second corona wave in their forecasts.

Forecasting in uncertain times

In uncertain times, financial departments get more questions about predictive data. The participants in the virtual conversation of the Blue Chip Boutique Transition & Support (T&S) Antwerp/Hasselt all experience that greater craving for forecasts. However, the existing situation is unpublished and constantly changing. That is why the financial leaders take a pragmatic approach. Making assumptions over and over again makes no sense to them. So they don’t include a second corona wave in their forecasts. But it goes without saying that such a flare-up in the autumn would have serious consequences for, among others, a company in heating systems.

Technical unemployment

In addition to the desire to find a new balance for teleworking, there has been a shift in emphasis in the use of technical unemployment. One participant in the virtual session said that in April and May his people were technically unemployed for two to three weeks. For June, that duration was halved and the remedy was applied less rigidly due to the fear of losing employees on key posts.

The corona-pandemic is causing financial leaders headaches. That much is clear. Fortunately for the debaters, one of them had a 'piggy bank' so that he did not immediately have to worry about his cash position. For others, orders had kept coming in smoothly or production had not fallen sharply. But the customers are asking for a postponement of payment and smaller ones have already gone overboard. What if that's the beginning of more and bigger disasters? The fear of a domino effect is present.

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The author of this articleWouter Vanlee - Business Manager

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