Insights On 2020: Preparing businesses for 2021

The past year has brought with it many challenges to businesses on a global level – and as we still navigate our way through what has been a difficult year for many of us, there have been many learnings that have come from 2020 that can help prepare us for what comes next.

After the onset of the pandemic, we wanted to help business navigate through this monumental shift as work and the workplace evolved around us, so we held our first ever Insights On webcast series – a series that featured Canada’s leading industry experts who shared with us their insights on topics ranging from how to support employees working remotely to the evolving role and priorities of CFOs. Since our first webcast in April, we’ve hosted eight more and as the series draws to an end, I wanted to highlight some of the advice that has resonated with me.

If you missed any of the episodes, you can catch up on the series on-demand here.


Leading in the remote work environment

Working from home used to be considered a perk. Nobody could have predicted it would become our norm overnight. As we adapted to our new work environments in the midst of a global health crisis, I often thought about how I could show up as a leader for my team and this theme came up repeatedly in discussions. I was thankful to have been joined by Andrea Wynter, Head of HR at ADP Canada, for a webcast discussion on how leaders could better prioritize the employee experience. It was important to remember that everyone is dealing with remote work differently – some are struggling with using new technology for the first time or others might have children or family to take care of – productivity isn’t going to look the same for all employees. Eliminating the outdated ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, and instead, having empathy and understanding the individual needs of your employees will help set your team up for success.


Plan ahead, yet be flexible

One thing that became apparent during the pandemic, is that very few businesses had plans in place to prepare for the unknown. This year has been full of surprises and nobody can predict the future, so planning ahead and being conservative and realistic, yet ready to adapt is crucial in order to thrive in the unknown future. In our latest webcast, Pamela Steer, Chief Financial and Corporate Strategy Officer at Payments Canada, shared some great advice: be ready for anything in 2021 and pick the wisest path that allows for maximum flexibility and creativity.


The importance of accurate data

Throughout the pandemic, having access to real-time company data has become crucial for leaders to make the right decisions for the business. This has been a common theme throughout our webcast series. Leaders are keeping a closer pulse on their operations and accurate data is playing a vital role to help them measure goals and keep moving forward. Sam Hitchen-Rae, Partnerships Director at ACAPP said it best in a recent episode discussing AP automation – manual data means human error. Having an integrated system where all departments can input data provides accurate real-time reports that will allow you to spend more time analyzing your data rather than collecting it.


The need for automation

The shift to working remotely exposed many outdated work processes. Many businesses were still relying on manual processes, which Blanca McGrory, Manager AP at Provincial Health Services Authority shared was like taking step back in time. Not only can digital tools help to decrease pain points and create a positive employee experience, but they also minimize the labor of cost, allowing your team to spend more time on other strategic tasks. It’s clear that embracing technology is now table-stakes.


Future of business travel

The state of corporate travel is one of the biggest questions of the year. While questions still remain, we know that technology will play a pivotal role in making sure employees are safe when on the road. Like all other areas of a business, the pandemic has been an accelerator for digital transformation and employees want a touchless travel experience to minimize concerns around health and safety. Monica McKill, Air & Ground Transportation Manager at Cenovus Energy Inc. raised a great point during our discussion on business travel – businesses need to provide a consistent experience for their travelling employees. Providing technology that helps employees have access to emergency updates and communicate with their teams will help minimize concerns when travelling.


Thank you to everyone that has joined us for our Insights On series. We hope the perspective provided by our panelists helped you to navigate through these uncertain times. Special thank you to our friends at FEI Canada and ACAPP for their partnership in bringing together the second half of our series. If you’ve missed an episode or would like to check out the series, you can view on-demand here. We’re looking forward to continuing the conversations in the New Year.

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