In this last part of the series, I’m going to talk a little about the Cashroom. What are we doing to change things up and innovate in the post COVID environment.
First, a quick recap on where we are, and how the lockdown affected us.
We decided to “lockdown” about a week before the official announcement. We initiated our business continuity plan and went from having 85 people fully operational in the office, to having 85 people fully operational at home, in just over a week. I’m not going to pretend it was easy (it wasn’t), nor that it went entirely smoothly (it didn’t), but we did it and I think (hope!) most of our clients didn’t noticed any service disruption as a result of the transition.
When the government announced their financial support, we knew we had to take advantage of it. Volumes were dropping across out client base, and some clients were finding it tough. So, while it broke my heart to do so, we made the difficult decision to furlough 31 members of staff. I spoke to them all personally, explained the situation, assured them we would do our best to make sure they all came back, and spent the rest of the evening drinking heavily!
Also like many of our clients, we (successfully) applied for a COVID Business Interruption Loan, took advantage of the VAT deferral, and negotiated with our creditors.
Long story short, we are emerging from lockdown, blinking in the sunlight, and preparing for the new normal.
So what are we doing?
Return from Furlough
As of the beginning of July, we’re bringing all staff back from furlough, at least part time.
We’re not doing it because we think work volumes will have returned by then. We’re doing it to free up “idle” capacity in the business to be able to work on all the initiatives and projects we have underway that never seem to get the attention they need.
You all know what I’m talking about, the change initiative that never seems to quite get over the line, because those involved have “day jobs” delivering client services that always take priority. Well, by bring everybody back from furlough before we “need” them, we hope to create the capacity we need to drive through that change.
And talking about change…!
The lease on one of our offices is up at the end of August. We have decided not to renew or replace it. We will lose around 40% of our office space. The enforced home working has shown that we do not need everybody in one place – home working … works!
In the short to medium term, we will need to make changes around booking desks, social distancing, “Hot-desking” and deep cleaning, but in the longer time we plan to have only around 50% of our workforce in the “office” at any one time.
We have recently completed a deal to acquire a small technology business, bringing in house, the expertise we have to date outsourced.
An odd move for an outsourcing business, you might think. However, outsourcing works when you’re outsourcing a non-core function (e.g. your accounts team!). Over the last year or so it’s become clear that technology is in fact a core function at the Cashroom, and crucial to our future growth and development.
And talking about technology…!
Over the next few weeks we’re trialling a new development to our client Portal. It takes advantage of the new Open Banking regulations to automatically set up payments based on instructions received from clients into the Portal. That means there is no need for our cashiers to log onto the client’s bank account, to set up the payment, increasing accuracy and security.
That’s only one example of how future developments of our technology platform will drive efficiency and accuracy.
It seems we’re a “Fintech” business now!
So, we’re being bold, and are trying to innovative and creative. We know not everything we try will succeeded, and that’s OK, because we’ve given ourselves permission to “fail” as long as we do it fast, in a safe environment, and learn.
David Calder, Managing Director at The Cashroom Ltd