The entire world has shifted gears to remote working mode. Though people have been working remotely for years now, this trend catapulted due to an unintended consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even companies that were reluctant to ask their employees to work from home, had to switch to remote working at some point in time. Organizations that have been hitherto relying on legacy systems have started embracing digitalization to survive the state of disarray. In that sense, the pandemic has been a wake-up call for organizations to embrace digital transformation. It has gotten them to rethink and reevaluate their current practices.

Related reading: Coronavirus Crisis: A Wake-up Call on the Importance of Digital Transformation

Some sectors including IT, education, health, and sales have swiftly adapted to the change. Despite that, the brouhaha on whether remote working is better or worse than working from the office still continues. It boils down to a few questions: are the technologies and tools used cut out for effective remote working? Are employees being productive when working from home? After all, your employees are the lifeblood of your operations, and it is imperative to optimize work for them. Happy employees are productive employees.

What hinders remote working from being a productive experience?

Many organizations have got the basics covered: communication. Emails, instant messaging, and video conferences have certainly improved employee collaboration. However, for a seamless and productive remote working experience, they have to move beyond this. What if they follow the same inefficient workflow that they followed at the office? No amount of intense communication can save them at the end of the day.

Paper-based Tasks

Departments, especially accounts receivable department, follow paper trails. The checks come in and there has to be someone at the premises to oversee the work. The information buried in the stacks of documents cannot be accessed from a remote work setting.

If employees still push the paper trail from one desk to another and rely on wet signatures for approvals, such tasks will be functional only in an office environment where other employees are at a shouting distance.

Swivel Chair Processes

Even when the information is digitized, it may be stored in Excel sheets that require manually checking and retrieving information. Moving from one application to another, though cumbersome even in an office setting, does not improve productivity.

Inefficient Processes

Bottlenecks and redundant steps can lead to chaotic processes, increased errors, and decreased employee morale. Inefficient processes will hinder day-to-day operations, waste a lot of work hours, thereby reducing productivity. 

How can Automation Help?

According to a 2017 Global Future of Work Survey conducted by Willis Towers Watson, 57% of employers stated that the main goal of automation is to improve the performance and productivity of employees. Technologies like business process management (BPM) and robotic process automation (RPA) can help remote workers in improving their experience and help augment their productivity. While the power of automation still holds true in an office setting, it can be implemented to enhance productivity among remote workforces. 

Streamline Business Processes with BPM

As defined by the BPM Institute, business process management(BPM) is: “The definition, improvement, and management of a firm’s end-to-end enterprise business processes in order to achieve three outcomes crucial to a performance-based, customer-driven firm: 1) clarity on strategic direction, 2) alignment of the firm’s resources, and 3) increased discipline in daily operations.”

BPM can eliminate repetitive and humdrum tasks leading to happier staff. Remote workers do face some challenges when they work from home. Right from communication to onboarding, the processes can be streamlined. Such processes give clarity and improve employee satisfaction. 

Further reading: Accelerating Digital Transformation: How RPA and BPM work better together?

How RPA Helps Remote Workers?

Robotic process automation is a technology where software bots are deployed to perform high-volume, repetitive tasks. These software bots or digital workers can reduce the time employees spend on performing such mundane tasks, thereby increasing productivity. It will also give them more time to spend on cognitive and subjective tasks. 

In the words of Mike Beckley, Appian’s CTO and co-founder, “Demand for RPA was already very high before the world shifted to working from home. And while RPA isn’t a great way to help homeschool the kids, it is a great way to quickly change a legacy process. How many companies have had to adjust their paid leave and sick day policies in the last two weeks due to COVID-19? It’s easier to program a bot than to rewrite your HR and Finance systems.”

Scheduling Meetings

Video calls have become the most dominant form of communication in the remote working space. They help employees stay connected and collaborate for getting things done. According to a 2019 Forbes Insights report, 71% of the sample stated that the ability to see the facial reaction and non-verbal cues offers the convenience of face-to-face interaction. According to Microsoft, Teams witnessed 2.7 billion meeting minutes during the end of March, which is a 200% jump compared to mid-March. 

This is a great space to leverage digital workers. UiPath, with whom Vuram partners for RPA, has created a suite of tools that will enhance the remote working experience. They include:

  • Bots that can update your employees’ Slack status based on their calendar.
  • Bots that send the meeting notes to all the meeting attendees after a meeting.
  • The software bots that can easily schedule meetings and manage events without any conflicts. 

Automate According to Triggers

With RPA, you can automate sending reminders be it team building meetings or asking for updates. You can also schedule triggers to send invites for recurring meetings. Time-based or interval-based triggers can be set according to the task. 

Reduce repetitive tasks

According to a 2017 study by DJS Research for Unit4, office staff spends around 552 work hours in a year in performing repetitive tasks. In the long run, the employees will get bored with the same task they mindlessly do. They can perform rule-based tasks extracting information, moving files and folders, etc. while the employees can focus on other creative tasks. RPA can not only perform all these rote tasks but will also perform with 100% accuracy despite whether there is a pandemic or not.

Remote working is here to stay. Even in the post-pandemic era, it is safe to assume that employees will be working from home and relying heavily on technologies. The remote working world can fare better by adapting to automation. Lack of efficient technologies can impact employee engagement both in an office environment and a work-from-home setting. By optimizing the inefficient workflow through RPA and BPM, employees will be able to be more productive and feel empowered. While the shift to remote work itself is challenging for businesses, they can help in enhancing the experience of a strong remote workforce.

Are you thinking about leveraging RPA and BPM to improve your employees’ remote working experience? Vuram’s team of experts specialized in RPA and BPM can help you achieve the remote working experience you have in mind for your employees. Have you got any questions on RPA and BPM? Shoot us a mail to ask@vuram.com and we’d love to understand how we can help you tackle your business challenges.

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