By now, your front office should more or less have things figured out. COVID-themed outreach and marketing may have been tough for the first few months, but the path forward is clear now. Great sales and ad teams thrive during uncertainty, using innovative thinking to stay one step ahead of the competition.
The same cannot be said for back offices: accounting, payroll services, and human resources all need stability in order to fire on all cylinders. If 2020 was any indicator, 2021 is going to be everything but stable, so it’s up to business leaders to set their back offices up for success. Even for the best CEOs and presidents, ensuring the right levels of stability is much easier said than done. Here’s where to start:
- Automate. Automate. Automate.
It’s 2020: there’s hardly a process in business that can’t be automated. As the responsibilities of your back office fluctuate over time, take note of what gives each team the most trouble. Once your list gets large enough, start to search for software that can help lighten the load. The more you can take menial tasks out of your employees’ hands, the more they can focus on the big picture.
Automation for numbers-based tasks like accounting or spreadsheet management have been around for years, but that trend has now spread far beyond number crunching. Human resources automation is now available at the push of a button, and managers need to be prepared to adopt it for their team — the impact can be immense.
- Be flexible.
When times are tough, employees need their bosses to stand up for them. The difficulties of 2020 are poised to last well into 2021, so the worker-first policies adopted this year cannot go anywhere anytime soon. If you want your back office to be prepared for future uncertainties, give them opportunities for flexibility now.
Employees working remotely work an average of 1.4 additional days every single month — a huge amount of work when compounded over time. While some bosses see flexible work policies as tempering productivity, they’re actually a lifeline to workers looking to operate at peak efficiency. Letting employees choose where, how, and when to work ensures that each opts for the optimal work situation for them — boosting your team’s productivity along the way.
- Make delegation plans.
In today’s world, crisis is a guarantee. You know that, sooner or later, your company is going to run into hard times. Even with this knowledge, far too many business leaders let themselves be surprised by downturns. Instead of dealing with each new problem as it arises, take advantage of relative calm in order to make a plan of delegation.
Take stock of who on each back office team normally gets hit the hardest with incoming work when things go wrong. Identify which other team members can take on additional work to ease the burden. If an entire team is bogged down, make a doomsday plan: which other teams, maybe even from the front office, can step in and help? Your answers may not be ideal, but any port works in a storm.
- Enlist freelancers.
When work deluges strike, your business needs to act fast and efficiently. Dealing with a flood of new clients, complaints, or problems to solve may seem like it mandates a new hire, but don’t jump the gun. Business cycles wax and wane, but your business needs to always maintain its bottom line. Instead of opting for a permanent hire, check out what’s available in the freelance pool.
Full-time employees can cost their company as much as 1.6 times their annual salary once benefits, taxes, and training are factored in. Freelancers are a different story entirely, with many fully capable of contributing from the day of hire. Without the added tax and benefit burden, freelancers also allow for additional dynamism on your part. Bring them on board when you need them and drop them when margins get tight. This strategy can help your back office manage turbulent times without weighing down your balance sheet at the same time.
If your front office is the face of your company, the back office is the heart: pumping and beating in order to make sure that everything runs smoothly. Take care of them, and your business will prosper as a result. By prepping your team for uncertainty now, you’re ensuring stability down the line.