COVID-19 is taking its grip day by day on the lives of many. Its impact is unprecedented in this new technological age, where the power of social media and technology makes our lives easier and makes us ‘agile’ in business, permitting us to continue with communications to help reassure you, our clients, in these times of financial uncertainty.
It is now more common to work from home and ‘regular’ working from home has increased by 173% since 2005 (global workplace analytics). Companies have been moving towards a more “digital” working style, offering remote access which enables flexible working hours, with staff often choosing to work from home 1-2 days a week. This was through choice. However, this month we have really seen a huge push for everyone to become more “digital” with most companies forced to rethink their processes.
Matt Mullenwg, chief executive of WordPress, describes this as “a time to reset” in terms of how we work. There are many benefits to offering flexible working for businesses including higher productivity (less absenteeism), better performance (fewer mistakes), better staff retention (54% of employees said they would change jobs for one that offered more flexibility) and higher profitability (Forbes.com). We think working from home is becoming much more ‘regular’ and will be here to stay in the aftermath of COVID 19. This will change the face of business and how companies operate, some would argue for the better, others would argue to the contrary.
Microsoft, whose operating system most of the world runs on, and whose software most professional documents are written with, launched its own collaborative online workspace app in 2017. Microsoft Teams is a combination of Microsoft 365 and Skype for business. It is making it easier for employees to collaborate efficiently when working remotely. 19 million people were using Microsoft teams in March 2019. This jumped to a reported 32 million plus this March 2020 as companies were forced to make the switch to enable staff to work from home. Companies such as Slack, Zoom and Microsoft have taken the decision to offer more of their services for free, in the hope that once we return to normality, we will continue to use and pay for their services as they become part of our everyday work culture.
Here at Evolution Financial Services we have been progressively taking steps to increase our digital presence. Last year we trialed digital signatures, which allowed our clients to sign documents in a secure way without having to print them out. We are working further to allow our clients online and digital access to all our paperwork and forms so as to streamline our processes and help reduce the amount of paperwork that our industry is steeped in. In the spirit of trying to run an ethical and responsible business, we are keen to reduce the paperwork levels wherever we can, and, if we can do this via the use of technology, then this will be of huge benefit to you, our clients, and the environment.
We have been working hard behind the scenes and over the next months we will be offering you access to our Personal Finance Portal. This will enable you to see your investments in one place as well as give you access to our secure messaging services. This service will allow you to send messages to your adviser and upload documents without having to worry about passwords. We will also be offering video meetings, with the ability to record them for you to watch back at a later date. This is incredibly useful for clients who find it difficult to commit to face to face meetings because of a busy schedule or, as COVID-19 is demonstrating, other unforeseen circumstances.
It does pose other considerations, however. Our industry is very much a personal face-to-face one and this will still be at the centre of our approach to working with clients. The current climate has resulted in online facilities moving businesses into new directions, which we will very much be looking to deploy where we feel it is beneficial to our clients and their experience in working with us. It was always the plan to introduce the Personal Financial Portal in 2020 – COVID-19 has brought this forward, which we have to embrace in a positive way. We hope the Portal will improve our communications with you and access to our advice and services at these testing times.
Please stay safe and stay at home, and as ever, if you need an advice relating to your investments, accessing the markets to take advantage of the weaknesses or want to discuss mortgage holidays, please get in touch and we will be happy to help and advise.