The headlines read that the office is dead. But are they really? The belief is that virtual/distance delivery of services is the post-Covid-19 reality. It has been a dream for many in the technology sector. Technology would be the vehicle that delivers the services. Instead of brick-and-mortar offices, there would be digital platforms where workers work together in virtual environments.

The demise of the office has long been debated. Yahoo implemented distance working until a new CEO took the helm and ordered workers back to the offices. Then the pandemic hit, and Yahoo is again embracing remote workers.

Many companies are adopting the remote worker model with few successes. The problem is not the technology as virtual meeting spaces and digital service delivery is readily available. The problem lies in the analog-mindset.

Few company leaders are willing to give up the control they feel when they see workers at their desks or see the widgets march down the assembly lines. Because of the pandemic, they are reluctantly embracing distance working.

But the adoption of remote workers remains mired in analog thinking which leads to breakdowns in the delivery of services.

Many companies still rely on workflows that depend on paper or communication workflows that bottleneck the processes. Paper still drives the companies of today, even if they look and feel like digital paper.

This is true even in technology companies.

Many technology companies do not have the necessary workflows designed to work virtually. This is demonstrated in the long technical support queues at the technology companies. Rather than expediting technical support, consumers are, instead, waiting in longer queues.

Bank portals have admonishments all over their technology platforms advising their clients to expect longer than normal waiting times. Phone support queues are longer than normal as are the bank chat rooms.

Although the Covid-19 pandemic is blamed, the true reason for the long queues lies in the workflow methodology that still relies on analog paper and communications.

For example, Axos Bank which bills itself as an internet bank.

I applied for a business checking account over five days ago. I provided the funding mechanism and all the required documents through their portal.

Other than an automated system response advising me that they will let me know when they have processed my application, I have not heard back from the internet bank.

Silence and more silence is what Axos Bank is providing me. Axos is supposed to be a technology company. It is supposed to have a workflow that embraces technology.

The bank cannot blame the pandemic because the effects of the pandemic is to keep workers at home instead of at the local branches. The Axos workflows should have been prepared for distance working.

But, apparently, the pandemic is too much for the bank’s workflows.

The likely reason is that Axos Bank still relies on an outdated business workflow that depends on an analog approval process.

I would have had a checking account the same day had I simply walking into the local branch of my bank, even with the pandemic in full swing.

It shouldn’t have to be so. It should be easier to open an account online then making an appointment at the local branch and meeting with the local banker.

As businesses are forced to rethink their futures, the owners should consider their workflows. The owners should look at where analog processes govern the procedures and look to update them to the digital way of completing the work.

For example, digital signatures are now accepted by the federal government, like the Small Business Administration (SBA). If signatures are part of the workflow then the conversion to digital signatures should be implemented today.

Likewise, the approval processes need to be analyzed. Are they depending on outdated paper pushing from inbox to inbox? Can the processes be digitally checked off each step of the way, instead of generating PDFs and emails for each step? How about the archiving of regulatory documents? Are those still printed, signed, and then scanned only to be printed and scanned again after new signatures or notations are added?

Digital thinking needs to lead the way as businesses begin to recover. Forget the notion that workflow conversion is disruptive to business. The pandemic has already disrupted businesses.

Those businesses that transition to digital processes are the ones that will survive life after Covid-19.

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...