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Advice

Why automation is key to hybrid work beyond the pandemic

- February 1, 2022 3 MIN READ
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The pandemic has changed the dynamics of how we work significantly.

Digital transformation has accelerated and become a powerful enabler of remote working and hybrid workplaces.

While the automation of back office processes such as accounts payable, HR and payroll activities is not new, businesses are now turning their attention to how automation can help support remote teams more effectively and boost customer service and competitiveness.

Automation enables teams to work more effectively and efficiently, relieving staff of dull and repetitive tasks, reducing errors and unlocking power to run tasks continuously.  Automation is the currency that buys time to focus on more interesting, valuable and important work.

Moving automation from the back office to CX

Automation in 2022 and beyond is moving from the back office into customer experience (CX).

A great example of this is the handling of customer enquiries. When a customer contacts your business, the aim is to not only acknowledge receipt of the incoming communication but to resolve it as quickly as possible. Whenever a message arrives, it needs to be read and then allocated to the right person.

Automation, using tools such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA), can leverage text recognition to ‘read’ the message and discern its meaning.

It can then be automatically categorised, moved from an inbox or messaging app into a ticketing system and allocated to the best team member to resolve the issue.

When everyone is in the same office, this is often handled manually as each person in the team can talk to the others. But that communication is more complex when everyone is working remotely.

Automation ensures that the message is not lost and is allocated promptly and service levels with remote working arrangements are not compromised.

Teams can work from anywhere

When organisations scratch the surface, they find that they are running dozens of different processes that follow the same steps every time. For example, expense reimbursements typically rely on someone completing a form, having the request approved and then sent to finance for processing and payment.

An electronic form can be used and automatically sent to each party with the finance system updated and the payment automated.

Not only is the process faster and not reliant on everyone being in the same place to move a piece of paper around, but it means the finance team can focus on more critical and strategic work rather than the repetitive and mundane.

When organisations were forced to rapidly adopt remote working at the start of the pandemic, many learned that processes they thought were operating smoothly were really being held together by people who were able to plug the gaps simply because they were close to each other and could easily remedy issues. When data needed to be transposed between systems they could quickly do that.

RPA can plug those gaps quickly and efficiently enabling finance teams to benefit from hybrid working arrangements. Innovations in RPA are also emerging that can execute those processes using cloud-based services so you can deploy them quickly without having to outlay capital on new systems or software licenses.  

Accessing great talent without geographical boundaries 

The rapid rise of remote work has changed the dynamics of what Australians expect. Employers that can automate boring and repetitive tasks through automation are much more attractive to new hires.

One of the biggest benefits of hybrid workplaces is that we are no longer geographically limited when looking for the best staff or employer.

When new team members know that they can apply their skills to meaningful and interesting work rather than shuffling forms and copying data, their job satisfaction rises and your business becomes a standout in the war for talent.

How we work and the relationships between employers and their staff have been drastically changed through the pandemic.

When Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said that companies completed three years of digital transformation in three months back in early 2020, he was only seeing the tip of the iceberg.

Digital transformation, that embraces intelligent automation, is transforming what we do at work, how we do our work and the relationships we have. When we look back at how we worked in 2019, it was very different to what we experience today.

Intelligent automation will continue that change, making us better at our jobs and more satisfied with our work while delivering great value to organisations.

 

  • Leigh Pullen is CEO of CiGen
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