7 Success Tips for Accounting Firms doing Remote Work
Across the United States, firms are facing the reality of having to switch to remote work as a precautionary measure to help minimize the spread of COVID-19. Many large firms already have the technology and resources that enable them to operate remotely. However, many smaller firms do not. Today, business landscapes are changing faster than ever, the only solution is to adapt accordingly.
If your firm is just shifting to working from home, you may check this article here on how you can make your firm’s transition to working from home easily.
Accountants already prefer to work from home.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the unemployment rate for accountants and auditors dropped to just 1.6% at the end of 2018. This labor shortage is forcing employees to be more flexible, causing employees to dictate the terms of their employment. The result benefits both employers and employees, with higher satisfaction among teams and delivering better results.
Working from home is more productive.
Even before the pandemic, accountants have already joined the “work from home revolution” – in a survey given to 800 accountants, almost one-third of them are already doing side-work at their practice or their homes. About 58% spend at least 11 hours per week in their home offices
Accountants are demanding flexibility to do their work however and whenever they want to. Technology that has emerged from the past decade has made remote work possible and has enabled employees to tackle different tasks as long as they are connected to the internet. In a 2018 survey of CPA firms, 43% already have employees who regularly work from home. For some firms, going remote seems like a big challenge that can come with risks. In the same survey mentioned, 99% said they offered a remote work program, while only 35% had an established work policy in place.
Any employer would worry about the safety of the sensitive data that their clients leave in their hands, and whether it would be okay to trust their employees to leave the safety of their offices with them. Of course, every venture comes with risks, but there are precautions we can take to ease the burden and create an environment that is mutually beneficial for the firm and its employees.
Check out this video below on how working from home can actually be good for your business. Maybe now’s the time for a change of pace, company culture and work practices.
For Accounting firms going remote, here are 7 success tips to smoothen the transition.
1. Make remote work a part of a firm’s culture
Statistics we have mentioned shows that firms are not more open to remote work compared to the past. Now that the circumstances have changed to keep the community safe during a pandemic, firms should approach this change on a case-to-case basis.
Policies and procedures for remote work should be developed in an organic manner that is inclusive and enables remote work for all employees. Firms should be considerate for the needs of their employees by making sure they have the equipment, software, and necessary training to ease the transition.
2. Internet Access
Internet is the first requirement for telecommuting, and not everyone has access to a reliable internet connection. A firm must identify employees who can go remote quickly and give some time for others who need to have their internet upgraded or installed. A firm can also have the option of providing their employees with wireless hotspots.
3. The right setup
Without a good home office set up, work from home may be counter – productive. Together with fast and reliable internet, other technology at home should ideally be better than what’s in the office – computer, copier, etc. A quiet, dedicated workspace (away from your family) is needed to prevent distractions and get the existing work done. The key is to have the right attitude and self-discipline to maximize productivity in a place that can be more comfortable than an office environment.
4. Adequate devices
Consider the devices that are available to the employees. If they are laptops, make sure the devices are adequate for working from home for weeks or months. Some firms can provide dedicated devices to their employees with are already equipped with the necessary programs and software needed for remote work.
5. Reliable communication channels
It is important for teams to communicate with each other to make sure everyone is doing their assigned part for remote work. Making these channels virtual is something we are all familiar with. For meetings and conferences, there are applications like Microsoft Teams that enable secure calls between teammates. It is the staff’s duty to keep themselves updated with the happenings of their team and company.
6. Access to applications and software
Once access to the internet and having the right devices is secure, applications and software used during remote work can dictate the ease of productivity of the employees. An IT service provider could give immediate aid to any needs and problems that may occur during this transition.
Applications and software need to be updated and tweaked according to the firm’s work style. Ignoring updates could put applications at risk for breaches. It is also important for employees to know how to report any bugs or problems in the system, so they can be addressed accordingly by the firm’s IT consultants.
It is important for firms to assess remote workflow – they must identify what processes are vital to the firm and how it can be facilitated online. There might be some processes that cannot be converted into a virtual environment.
A portal that is also accessible to clients is vital. Transparency, even before a global pandemic or a crisis occurs, is vital to help firms keep track of workflow.
Bonus Tip: Hiring an MSSP can help.
The role an MSSP can have in your firm.
Once a firm goes remote, the risk of losing a client’s data is higher than it was in an office environment. Failing to keep a firm’s IT systems updated could put your business and clients in trouble at risk. An MSSP can handle all the concerns from the mentioned tips, and even more.
All or some aspects of a firm’s IT security can be outsourced through an MSSP. Their role would be to provide continuous security monitoring, vulnerability risk assessment, threat intelligence, and intrusion management. MSSPs follow industry standards and comply with data protection requirements. Working with an MSSP can also serve as a cost-effective option, which can save a firm from spending on equipment, software, and operational costs.
The right MSSP can help a firm gain the flexibility they need to help them focus on growth and success while facing the challenge of remote work.