Accountancy firms with staff working from home, or maybe another location, have discovered a major competitive advantage. Provided, of course, that management recognises that it is a different model requiring different management skills.
Covid-19 has just pushed that competitive advantage to a whole new level.
Traditionally, accountancy firms have been slower on the uptake than many other sectors to adopt new technology in their practices.
The adoption of cloud technology in order to free up workers from being chained to their desks has not been adopted as quickly as you might expect. Old habits and in particular old “control’ mechanisms are hard to change.
Accountancy firms that see staff working from home as a bad thing may be missing out.
There is often a misconception that an “absent” employee is not working at their full potential. Established firms often believe that staff can only achieve their best when constantly monitored in the office. In reality, the opposite is true. It all depends on how a team member is assessed and what the employer considers to be the important deliverables.
If management can learn to adapt and adopt, the benefits are enormous.
Other business sectors have adopted the change with gusto. Accountancy firms are now starting to recognise the benefits too, even if it did take a Coronavirus epidemic to force their hand.
The cost savings of remote working alone are enormous.
Desk space in the office has always been at a premium. The real cost of supporting each member of staff with just the basic facilities is a huge burden.
The idea that staff working from home do not perform as well as at the office has long been discredited. It is management’s job to ensure that staff are measured on criteria that actually to the company. It should not be on whether they arrive to work on time, are dressed in a way that satisfies senior partners or whether they exactly 60 minutes for lunch.
We now know that there are much better ways of measuring staff performance – and indeed motivating staff. From personal experience, I know that the commute to work alone is enough to sap the most enthusiastic of employees.
Why the Coronavirus will affect accountancy firms.
Many accountancy firms restricting the travel of their staff when the virus first hit. HR departments have also had to review travel arrangements as the problem escalated.
For staff connected to the cloud, that has not presented a problem.
They can and will work from anywhere. Only those firms that tied their employees to a desktop computer at the office have felt the pain. This is why the Coronavirus will affect some accountancy firms more than others.
Flexible working doesn’t just minimise the financial impact of the epidemic on accountancy firms. It goes much further than that. It creates a significantly better business model.
In 2020 the Coronavirus become by far the greatest threat to companies around the world. Members of staff that were forced to “self-isolate” will in most cases be both healthy and keen to work. It is as frustrating for them as it is for management.
Yet it doesn’t take a lot of planning to have team members fully connected to the cloud and fully able to access all their work files from home.
It’s a shame that for many accountants, it has taken a global pandemic before they consider adopting technology that will enable them to be more productive.
Even without the threat of the Coronavirus, members of staff can make a bigger contribution to the company’s performance when they are able to access all of their software and business files when they were away from their desks. How many “sick days” are taken because a domestic issue has become a priority? Who amongst us has not needed to be home to let a plumber or electrician into the house? How often has a sick child cost your company a full day’s work?
Yet if we give staff the tools – they will do the job. I know this from personal experience. My partner was dealing with clients on her laptop two hours before she went into labour!
If management truly wants the company to perform at peak efficiency, giving staff the ability to work remotely is essential. Not just to work remotely, but to work with the same capability as if they were in the office.
Software as a Service (SAAS) and how accountancy firms can benefit.
The concept of software as a service (SAAS) has many business benefits. Remote working is just one of them.
SECURITY: Security is a major consideration for all accountancy firms and the cloud, despite first impressions, can afford far greater security than any of the alternatives. Fire and theft of equipment are two of the biggest items on any company’s risk assessment. Having all your valuable data on the cloud completely eliminates these problems.
SHARED DATA: Enabling authorised staff access to the data they need to do the job also eliminates the risk (less need to have data stored in more than one place) and it also greatly improves performance. Giving appropriate members of staff access to the software from anywhere is a game-changer in itself.
FASTER: Older accountancy practices are notorious for hanging onto old technology. Many IT Directors consider it an achievement if they can get yet another year out of their IT. The cost of this is horrendous.
Old technology costs a fortune in lost staff performance. It is cited as the main reason staff feel they are not achieving their full potential in the work-place.
LOWER RUNNING COSTS: Upgrading your software when it is stored on the cloud is inexpensive too. Having a respectable refresh programme for your company will ensure that IT is not limiting performance or company growth.
ALWAYS UP TO DATE: Security and software updates are automatic. If a new computer virus appears on a Monday, by Tuesday everyone has the virus fix in place by Tuesday (if only we could do that to the Coronavirus).
A HAPPY WORKFORCE: HR Directors know that offering staff the ability to work remotely is a major perk. Many employees would rather have the ability to work remotely, even if it is only one day a week than have a pay rise. Companies that allow remote work have found they have 25% lower employee turnover those that don’t.
Why Coronavirus will affect some accountancy firms more than others. How we can help.
We are specialist in IT for accountancy firms. We can advise you on the very best way to protect your company as the virus threat moves from the computer interface to the human interface.
Give us a call today on 020 7123 4570 Click here to find out about leasing new IT or here to find out about leasing reconditioned IT.