The COVID-19 pandemic is first and foremost a human tragedy, and technology is on the front lines of this crisis. Many of the changes are reshaping how we work and live. Employees are forced to work remotely and consumers are shifting their shopping habits to online— and because technology ties so much of every company together, it plays a big role in the time coming.
Many companies are forced to change their working habits
Many companies have to reduce physical encounters to reduce the risk of the Covid 19 infection spreading. As a result, a decentralized workforce has arised and employees who collaborate in a functional area or on a work team no longer work together in the same office. The evolution of the Internet and mobile technology have made it possible for more workers to telecommute on various electronic media channels, such as `Hangout´, `Skype´ or `Slack´ and thereby maintaining a social connection within an organisation. Same goes for the client-company dynamics, where these channels have allowed many to continue their collaboration without face to face interaction. This, however, is a change that not everyone is used to and beyond that yet not familiar with rules and regulations affiliated with these changes of actions.
We will provide an overview on how applying electronic solutions can help keep the company engines going and avoid further delays in transactions.
Why it is a good opportunity to evaluate new solutions
Considering our current situation of being isolated and encouraged to stay inside and above all avoid personal contact, many mandatory meetings and ways of interaction with clients, holding board meetings or general meetings are being challenged, modified – if not cancelled. Situations such as signing of minutes, keeping protocol or annual accounts and annual reports have to be rearranged and modified in order to be completed. To top it off a new trust between the client and company or within an organisation needs to be reconsidered and taken to account for.
While most companies have allowed a simplified board meetings or general meetings to be held without a physical meeting and all shareholders are given the opportunity to participate in a suitable way and the members of the board (as well as the general manager and auditor, if any) are given the opportunity to comment on the issues and may require a case to be dealt with, how can it be finalized from there on? Documents need to be signed individually to indicate presence and minutes need to be accounted for. Having printers and scanners at home is not nearly as common as it used to be, and well, they are needed in order for documents to be signed – even after a virtual meeting. Not to mention the post services limited mobility at the moment.
So in order to minimize the costly repercussions and loss of time in waiting to receive signed papers and relying on external postal services to deliver, send and return them, companies should consider reaching out to new solutions that can create more efficient ways now, and in the long term.
Auditors are in their prime season!
An example could be the case of an auditor, who is in the season of processing audit letters, engagement letters and annual reports. Firstly, it is important that the annual accounts and the annual report are treated as thoroughly and qualified via an electronic media channel meeting as if they had been physically present. Once this virtual meeting is agreed with the client, the auditor could continue the process by handling the complicated workflows digitally (and automatically). Papers could be signed using any national e-ID system (BankID, NemID, Tupas etc.) or by the use of a computer mouse, like when signing off a delivery. This can be done from home and all that is needed is a phone, tablet or computer and internet connection. Penneo’s system makes sure to send out the right documents to the right people and collects the signatures in the correct order and the signed Annual reports land directly in personal inbox as well as in the personal Penneo archive.
The Annual General Meeting is traditionally held within six months of the end of the financial year.
Another example could be at a general meeting, where the date was set months ago and important information needs to be shared and reported. When it is decided that no physical meeting is held, all directors who have participated in the board meeting must sign the original draft of the documents including minutes, presence and from there the terms of agreement in conference needs to be signed by all parties as well. Once the board has processed the annual accounts and any annual report, the board and the CEO must also sign these documents.
With Penneo’s digital signature use a contract can be signed and returned in a few minutes and automatic reminders will be sent out until all signatures are in, which means that the time spent on collecting all signatures can be spent more efficiently. Moreover, clients or participants can be legitimized quickly and without having to print and scan passports, drivers license or similar identification. It is still possible to adhere to the AML/KYC rule because Penneo does the verification for the transaction and all that is needed is that clients or participants use their National E-ID from their phone, tablet or computer. Learn more
The board’s form of treatment should take place via electronic channels and video meetings where the board members participate together, have annual accounts and annual reports before them and undergo this in as solid and qualified a manner as if they had met physically. Additionally, the auditor or board could record it and thereby feel as in control as if they had had a physical meeting. From thereon, it is the auditor and client, or board’s responsibility to agree that board minutes, minutes of the general meeting, annual accounts and annual report can be signed electronically.
The current situation is difficult, there is no doubt about that but a way of avoiding further stress and delay can be obtained by applying Penneo’s digital workflow tools and valid electronic signing tools and thereby finalizing a general meeting or annual report securely and rapidly. Who knows, this can even open up gates to a new way of optimizing processes in the future.