Is it feasible for treasurer to work from home considering the coronavirus outbreak?
by François Masquelier, Chairman of ATEL A
“Telework” or remote work finds a perfect opportunity with COVID-19 to test itself, if the treasurers had not already tried it. It is true that the treasurer by the nature of his/her work likes to stay in the office and needs to be present on site, sometimes for technical, security and organizational reasons. They can work remotely partially and occasionally, if the situation imposes to do so. On the other hand, the many tools it uses and the proximity of markets, especially with information tools such as Refinitiv or Bloomberg, requires sharing them on the spot and in the workplace. It's also a good opportunity for those who don't have a BCP (i.e. Business Contingency Planning), and I know there are many, to test it “live”.
The treasurer must act quickly, daily and be proactive. Doing your job from home, if circumstances require it, why not? However, I think that would only be temporary. Possible precautionary measures imposed or possibly taxable for health reasons may require the treasurer to work from home. It is true that technical means allow many things that in the past remained impossible. Keep in mind that task segregation, internal controls and precautionary rules against computer risks preach for the treasurer's work in the office, more than that at home. Its role is already too often isolated and far removed from operational activities, so to further distance it would cut it off from the real world of the company. I have always believed the flexibility given to teams is essential in today's world, but personally I have always prioritized proximity to teams. So, it's personal. When the health crisis requires it, what other choice do we have? Some tasks may still be tricky to perform, depending on the degree of complexity and computerization of the business, the home. Some solutions, depending on the set-up can be only accessible from the office.
I don't see the treasurer with a mask and latex gloves approving payments and dealing hedging instruments.
Once again, it is an opportunity for the less well-organized treasuries to revisit their BCP processes and demonstrate their ability to work, if necessary, remotely with the same efficiency. In the end, it is on a case-by-case basis that this situation must be considered and allowed, as it may resurface in the future. It's prevention and ultimately simple risk management... too often forgotten...