Chapter 1: How accountants and bookkeepers can adapt to working remotely
Businesses have been obliged to accept remote work arrangements due to the COVID-19 lockout (at least temporarily). Now is the time for accountants and bookkeepers to act.
More firms are being forced to adapt to remote working settings and home offices while the lockdown continues. Those who haven’t yet implemented remote working policies are scrambling to catch up.
Bookkeepers and accountants are also in high demand, as they must continue to service their clients despite changing working conditions, unpredictable economic situations, and the need to process information about the release of our government’s cash flow stimulus programmes.
To date, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has committed $214 billion in economic stimulus initiatives to assist the Australian population in coping with the rapid decline brought on by COVID-19.
The situation is similar in New Zealand, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern unveiling a $12.1 billion NZD stimulus package a few weeks ago, with new modifications emerging on the NZ Government’s COVID-19 assistance site on a regular basis.
In order to come out on the other side safely, business owners will rely on their accountant and book-keeper to assist them in gaining access to qualifying stimvideo c,onferencing changes in the future.
This is the time to start thinking ahead and forecasting your cash flow (if you haven’t previously), as well as getting used to working from home.
A view from the other side
2 Peas Pty Ltd, a Melbourne-based bookkeeping firm, has been busy integrating innovative ways of working, including video conferencing, staff training, and interacting with clients.
With meeting management solutions like Zoom, TeamViewer, and Microsoft Teams becoming increasingly important, it’s evident that every company will have to adapt.
Pam Madytianos, director of 2 Peas Pty Ltd, said, “We have been connecting with our clients, colleagues, and personnel like this for a few years now, especially when working with remote, interstate, and abroad clientele.”
“We’ve been doing things this way for a long time, so it’s second nature to us.”
“During the crisis, we assisted clients who were hesitant to go remote, and they now like the new normal.”
2 Peas Pty Ltd isn’t the only one with this problem. Many accountants and bookkeepers have been working remotely for a few years and are now able to leverage technology with their clients to provide better service without affecting their productivity.
Online and cloud-based software applications can be both cost-effective and user-friendly.
“We extend our services by assisting and supporting accountants and bookkeepers who are having difficulty keeping up with the times, as well as those who are having difficulty adopting remote solutions,” Madytianos stated.
“We’ve always collaborated closely with other partners, expanding our service offering to provide new services to them and their clients.” This is what it means to be a part of a community.
“Especially at times like this, we don’t need to see each other as competitors, but rather as allies.”
There are several ways to safeguard your business from hackers and attacks, so contact your IT specialist. If you don’t adapt to remote systems in order to keep your firm going, you may lose your chance to stay afloat.
3 things to consider when working from home
1. Effective communication is pivotal
Challenge: One of the difficulties raised by the COVID-19 epidemic is the fact that critical information can be misconstrued as it travels through the media environment.
Opportunity 1: Now is a wonderful moment to start learning where to find the most up-to-date information. Depending on your jurisdiction, we recommend starting with an authority such as the ATO or IRD. You’ll also want to look for commentators or magazines that offer straightforward, well-researched advice.
Opportunity 2: Now is a good moment to evaluate your internal communication routes. How do you and your team keep up with new information, and how do you share what you’ve learned and experienced with your clients? There is currently all of the technology available to expedite these processes for remote work.
2. Health, motivation and productivity are closely linked (and it will begin to show)
Challenge: Under lockdown, your general health and wellness, as well as that of your coworkers, may be more vulnerable than usual, even without considering the risk of direct coronavirus infection. Business activities may be harmed as a result of these factors, which underpin motivation and workplace productivity.
Opportunity 1: Workouts and fitness, in general, are frequently loved as a social activity when it comes to physical well-being. There are a variety of creative ways to encourage activity during meetings (such as stretching or taking a call while walking) or in more sociable settings (home office yoga class, anyone?).
Opportunity 2: Small business owners of all types have an opportunity, if not an obligation, to lead on matters concerning the mental health of their employees, suppliers, business partners, and even customers and clients.
3. The technology exists, but is it secure?
Challenge: It’s impossible to avoid the fact that technology is a double-edged weapon. The instruments we use to promote near-instant communication between people in different parts of the world are also the ones that put our privacy at danger.
Opportunity: You may get a head start on cybersecurity by studying the precautions that everyone should take when working from home. Then, using your enhanced internal communications processes, communicate the facts and encourage people to change their behaviour.
Chapter 2: Remote recruitment: When you need to hire without shaking hands
In the COVID-19 future, recruitment is one of many business functions that must be handled differently. In a remote work environment, here are some tips for keeping your hiring efforts on track.
In the past, hiring new employees has been a process that business owners prefer to perform through in-person interviews.
The belief has always been that meeting a prospect in person helps the recruiter to gain a sense of their personality through body language and eye contact, as well as tap into their own gut instincts about the candidate’s quality.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic’s restrictions, business owners who are still looking for new talent have been forced to forsake traditional recruitment tactics and conduct interviews remotely.
Adapting to new trends and changes in pace is never simple, and because remote recruitment is a new concept for many business owners, the learning curve may be rather steep.
So, if you’re not sure how to hire in a remote work environment, here are some tips from a couple of remote recruitment experts who can help you grasp the ability to interview and hire new people from afar.
Choose the right software
There are a plethora of video recruitment technologies on the market. Each platform has its own set of advantages that might appeal to a variety of businesses and organisations.
Choosing a video recruitment solution that meets your organization’s specific demands is a crucial aspect of building an efficient remote recruitment strategy.
Because there are so many options, we recommend scheduling live demos with a few of them to see which one will work best for your interview process.
After you’ve found a video platform that can be customised to your company’s needs, we recommend that users learn how to get the most out of it.
Prepare yourself by learning how to use all of the platform’s features and running through a few test runs before using it for your first interview.
“Don’t be hesitant to ask the platform’s support team as many questions as you need. That’s why they’re there in the first place.
Create the right interview environment
While the applicant in question could conceivably be located anywhere in the world, it’s critical to strive to replicate an in-person interview as closely as possible when doing a remote interview.
We feel that a large part of running an effective online interview is treating it as if it were in person, and that the setting in which the online interview is held has a lot to do with that.
Your video background and atmosphere as the interviewer should be silent and uncomplicated.
Arrive early to the virtual meeting room, dress appropriately, and make sure you have nothing distracting you or the candidate.
Instead than relying on energy and chemistry generated in person to keep the interviewee engaged for an extended period of time, we propose that interviewers who develop novel ways to employ the software’s features achieve this goal.
Allowing your video interviews to become static spaces with two people’s faces glumly on a screen is a bad idea. Encourage the candidate to prepare presentations and documents that can be shared on screen before the interview.
As the interviewer, take advantage of the opportunity to showcase your business in new ways by utilising the online environment.
This has the ability to engage the prospect more than you would if you were speaking with them in person.
Keep your recruitment team engaged
Your recruitment team is ultimately responsible for the quality of your company’s hiring and onboarding processes, and although keeping them engaged is always important, doing so in a remote working environment is critical if positive outcomes are to be achieved. Dye, the CEO and founder of Referrer.io, presented his insights on how to keep remote recruitment teams motivated, and he believes that gamification is a wonderful approach to do so.
Dye told The Pulse, “Gamification has shown to be an effective means of keeping recruitment teams motivated when working in a remote location.”
“By assigning points, badges, and leaderboards to recruiting-related actions, you’ll discover that your recruitment teams are significantly more interested in their work, resulting in more effective results regardless of where they work.”
Preparing for the transition
Many organisations had been experimenting with the concept of modifying many of their existing operations to become remote-friendly even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and one of those practices was recruitment.
Remote recruitment has a number of features that make it significantly more effective than traditional recruitment. Some of the available tech solutions can assist recruiters in making unbiased selections, streamline the process, and create a setting that provides unique insight into the candidate’s communication abilities.
However, the worry of not being able to gain a full feel of a candidate’s capabilities when working remotely has kept remote recruitment from becoming commonplace.
We will have the unique opportunity to learn how to master the capacity to hire and onboard new staff remotely at COVID-19.
You can integrate remote recruiting into your regular business process by following the steps indicated above, and after the storm passes, you’ll have all the tools you need to reap the numerous benefits that remote recruitment has to offer.
Chapter 3: The future of working remotely
What does it mean to run a cloud-based office? Will physical office premises be required in the future?
Working remotely conjures up thoughts of lonely lighthouse keepers or long months spent on offshore oil rigs just a few decades ago.
When we talk about remote work these days, we’re talking to the growing trend of employees working from home while engaging with their bosses, coworkers, and clients by phone or email.
Remote work has been lauded as the solution to improve employee happiness and productivity while lowering operational overheads as suburbs creep further away from cities and commuter traffic crawls along jammed highways.
However, it appears that not everyone agrees that allowing huge percentages of their personnel to work from home (perhaps in their pyjamas) every day is a good idea.
Instead, a large number of well-known businesses are concentrating their efforts on developing work environments in which employees anticipate and enjoy going to work each day.
These companies place a high premium on teamwork and originality, and they are of the opinion that their employees will be more effective if they are given the opportunity to debate new concepts directly with one another.
The everyday grind
It has always been an unavoidable component of life to have to commute to one’s place of employment. This has been the case ever since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.
Before the invention of trains, most workers didn’t live further than an hour’s walk away from their place of employment. They would typically live and work in the same location most of the time.
In the 1840s, workers in the United States were given discounted or “commuted” rail tickets so that they may travel between their residences in the suburbs and the cities where they worked. This led to the development of the term “commuting.”
At the moment, millions of Londoners squeeze into crowded Tube carriages for quick excursions, whilst inhabitants of Los Angeles enjoy the privacy of their own vehicles while spending excruciating hours stuck in traffic on the city’s freeways.
In Australia, the average travel time to and from work each day is little under an hour, and the vast majority of residents drive alone.
Governments that are tasked with reducing the amount of traffic congestion on major thoroughfares are frequently confronted with demands from their constituents for an increase in the number of buses, trains, and passing lanes.
As a direct consequence of this, it is not surprising that governments consistently support remote work agreements.
When Julia Gillard was Prime Minister of Australia in 2012, she set a target for the country’s public sector to increase the number of employees who work remotely at least once a week from 4% to 12% by the year 2020. This objective was to be accomplished.
According to estimations, one out of every four people now employed participates in at least one instance of working from home on a weekly basis. According to estimates, only one percent of people have a formal agreement with the company that they work for.
This demonstrates that the bulk of remote work is the result of individual arrangements made between an employee and their direct management rather from the obvious implementation of organization-wide policy.
When it comes to overhead costs, smaller businesses may find that reducing the number of employees working in a physical office helps them better manage their finances. They have a significantly easier time coming to these one-of-a-kind agreements than a large organisation does.
A recent survey of business owners in the United Kingdom found that the majority of small and medium-sized enterprise owners (59 percent) felt that working remotely is the way of the future.
In spite of the fact that this could appear to be a regression in terms of forward-thinking HR policies, the problem at hand was actually one of creativity and collaboration.
For example, through casual chats around the workplace, the independent divisions of Flickr and Yahoo Weather identified a potential to connect components of respective programmes.
CEOs in every business are frantically attempting to incubate this kind of creativity, which is why so many are focusing on creating innovative offices that better stimulate cooperation and idea sharing.
If these walls could talk
In recent years, office interiors have progressed significantly from colourless computer cubes and conference rooms.
Google has set the standard for innovative and outlandish office architecture, with putting greens, basketball courts, and Segway tracks prominently displayed in its original Mountain View headquarters, aptly dubbed the Googleplex.
Google’s strategy is now standard practice for companies whose business model is based on creativity, as they attempt to increase the amount of chance interactions between employees outside of their desks.
Even though the proliferation of digital communication technologies has made it much simpler than ever before to communicate with coworkers located in different parts of the world, it would appear that technology still has a long way to go before it can fully replace in-person meetings and human interaction as an effective means of boosting both productivity and morale.
5 tips for keeping remote staff motivated
So you want to give your employees the option of working from home but aren’t sure whether you can Fiverust them to do the right thing? The solution is a mix of technology and solid managerial techniques.
Delegating work tasks to persons working outside of physical office space has become common among small business owners as the concept of flexible working continues to integrate into conventional workstyles.
While there are evident advantages to cultivating a workplace culture that encourages flexibility, there’s no disputing that managing remote employees is significantly more challenging than managing employees who are physically present in the office.
One of the most difficult aspects of allocating these tasks to persons who operate remotely is ensuring that work is completed as it should be while avoiding micromanagement.
There are, however, certain ways for business owners to keep an eye on their remote employees without becoming the dreaded overbearing and micromanaging boss.
1. Good communication
Communication is the cornerstone to a successful relationship. Working from home is no exception.
The biggest challenge, according to Adam Stone, founder of Speedlancer, is not knowing if or when a remote worker is late in finishing a task before the deadline.
Stone recommends keeping communication channels open with “over-active and cordial rapport” as a sure-fire means of maintaining oversight to guarantee that business managers don’t lose sight of where the remote worker is up to.
If you maintain the lines of communication open and encouraging, your remote employees are more likely to keep you informed about their progress.
2. Avoid overwhelming your remote staff
If someone decides to work remotely, there’s a strong possibility they have other responsibilities that they must manage.
When allocating responsibilities to an offshore worker, it’s crucial to keep in mind that you don’t want to overwhelm them by giving them too much to do in too little time.
When asked how to prevent making this error, Stone told The Pulse that if your remote resource is overworked, it’s best to delegate the task to someone else.
“Develop a good grasp of the remote worker’s capabilities and recognise when it’s time to delegate the work,” Stone advised.
3. Use technology to track progress
Apart from the more traditional methods of communication used by businesses (emails, Slack channels, WhatsApp groups, and so on), there are a number of excellent software platforms that may assist business owners in tracking the development of their remote staff.
Assume you’ve allocated some of your sales duties to a distant employee. In this instance, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions such as Salesforce can help you keep track of your employees’ development.
Platforms like Trello can be particularly beneficial for those who outsource technical work to persons who operate remotely in monitoring the state of technical projects and keeping track of how staff are going with their specific duties.
If you’re assigning a variety of duties to employees in different countries, Stone suggests that using an online “concierge” service to handle the connection for you can help keep remote workers productive.
4. Always leave enough time
Delegating a task to a remote worker with a tight deadline is similar to arranging a flight with a tight connection.
When it comes to tight airline connections, even a minor delay might have a big impact on the teller’s ability to make their next departure.
As a result, savvy travellers will always allow ample time between connecting flights to account for any unexpected delays.
When it comes to putting up a remote workforce, Stone says the same standards apply.
“Things do go wrong with a remote workforce,” Stone said, “but the most important thing is to make sure that extreme delays don’t put someone out.”
So, depending on what you’re delegating, make sure you allow your remote workers enough time to accomplish the task, taking into account any potential delays.
5. Keep staff incentivised
Offering numerous incentives on top of their usual wage/remuneration is a wonderful method to keep all of your employees motivated and empowered to work hard.
Staff that want to work remotely need all the motivation they can get, so having a robust reward structure is very crucial.
Incentives are a terrific method to enhance the drive and productivity of your remote staff, whether it’s an increase in their compensation if they finish the task ahead of schedule, a share of the income they brought in, or even being awarded a “day-in-lieu” if they hit certain milestones.
It everything boils down to the outcome. Finding a strategy to keep your employees motivated to work successfully even while they’re working from home can ensure that the company’s performance remain good, no matter where they are.
Remote work is working
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent,” said Charles Darwin famously. It’s the one that can adapt to change the most.”
This phrase applies not only to nature’s ‘cycle of life,’ but also to the attitude of any successful, expanding business.
Getting flexible for productivity
Many businesses have experienced an increase in demand for flexible work arrangements and a shift away from the typical nine-to-five schedule as a result of technological advancements. Employers are seeing a rise in employees who request to work remotely in addition to choosing their own hours.
Working remotely is one of the top desires for professional service professionals, which should come as no surprise to anyone who has a long commute or uses public transportation. Thousands of Australians travel to desks around the country every day to meet their eight-hour work requirement in order to collect their pay cheque.
According to a survey conducted by Sure Payroll, 65% of employees believe that a flexible and remote work schedule will boost their productivity, yet only 19% are permitted to do so. In order to maximise productivity, 86 percent of all employees prefer to work alone.
So, if we have the technology to facilitate remote working, what is preventing us from doing so?
The importance of trust
Many businesses don’t allow their employees to work from home because they don’t trust them, according to studies conducted by The Guardian. “How do I know you’re working if I can’t see you?” I wondered. The vast majority of employers agree with this statement.
This logic, however, is faulty. Employees spend an average of 20 hours per week online, with five of those hours spent on non-work-related sites. Distractions such as cell phone use, office gossip, social media use, snack breaks, and unruly coworkers are not included.
Sure Payroll polled employees and found that 76% of them would be inspired to use company technology that allows employees to evaluate their job performance and productivity, removing any uncertainty or fear that an employer would have.
Getting it right for your team
Employers aren’t the only ones who have reservations about working remotely.
More than a quarter of employees feel that how much time they spend in the office determines their overall work performance. Many workers believe that they must be physically visible to their bosses in order to show that they are working hard.
On the other side, some people choose not to work from home and prefer to work in a group setting. Working from home can cause emotions of loneliness, distraction, and disengagement, all of which are adverse to overall work performance.
Finding out what works best for you and your team should be the ultimate goal of any firm. There is no secret formula or method for boosting employee satisfaction and productivity, but if you make it a priority in your company, good things will happen.
Whatever approach you use, the remote working revolution is sweeping the globe. Consistent technological advancements and the digital globalisation of the world mean that our ideas about what constitutes a “work day” must evolve in order to survive.
Chapter 4: How remote working has impacted accounting
To say the least, 2020 has been an unexpected year. Many businesses have undergone fundamental changes as a result of large numbers of employees working from home for weeks or months at a time.
Accounting is one of the most heavily impacted industries. Things have been disrupted by remote working, although not always in a negative way.
Here are a few of the most significant ways that remote working has changed accounting.
1. Online training courses are even more popular
While online courses for accountants have long existed, shelter-in-place orders mean that much more learning is taking place online than previously.
Many aspiring accountants are learning from home as colleges shift their instruction to the internet. Plus, rather to attending face-to-face seminars, PMP (project management professional) training is becoming more popular online.
This can be both a challenge and an opportunity for pupils. When you’re studying from a distance, it’s easy to feel lonely. However, the growth of online courses makes training available to a wider range of people who might otherwise be unable to participate in face-to-face courses owing to cost, location, or accessibility concerns.
2. Employees may well be more productive
Many accounting businesses were concerned that workers working from home would be less productive. In actuality, companies have been shocked to discover that their employees are getting more work done from home in 2020, without the regular interruptions that come with working in an office.
As Marc Huffman put it:
“My company’s remote bookkeeping experience in the first quarter indicated that finance and accounting staff productivity was just as high, if not higher, than it had been previously.” In fact, we were able to shut our books in just three days at the end of the term.”
Managers must resist the temptation to micromanage workers who work from home. Of course, you should ensure that your employees are aware of where they may obtain help and support if they require it, but you don’t want them to believe that you are watching their every move.
3. Cybersecurity is more important than ever
You may have had an IT department in the office that was responsible for installing antivirus software, maintaining a firewall, and reminding your employees about password best practises.
There are new cybersecurity challenges when employees operate from home. It’s possible that your staff are utilising their own devices, and their internet connection is unsafe and vulnerable.
Accounting organisations are rapidly recognising the need of cybersecurity and implementing solutions such as 2FA (two-factor authentication) software to assist avoid security breaches.
4. The pace of change has accelerated
Many accounting firms have found themselves pushing forwards projects that were previously underway before to the coronavirus outbreak.
As CPA John Beauston, who was quoted in this article, put it:
“We have a very secure environment for remote work, and we were already planning to switch to laptops in the next 24 months.” However, we had to extend our deadline. We want our teams to be able to bring their computers home and plug in their huge monitors right away.”
Other businesses are implementing efforts like equipment budgets for remote workers, flexitime rules, new communication tools, and more.
5. What does this mean for your accounting practice?
Many, if not all, of the aforementioned developments are likely to have occurred in your company in 2020. Here are a few key points to keep in mind as we move forwards:
Recognize that remote working isn’t going anywhere. Over the last few months, it’s become increasingly clear that coronavirus isn’t going away anytime soon. Plus, now that remote working has been proven to be possible and people have grown accustomed to working from home, many may desire to do so full-time.
Look at what’s working well … and what isn’t. Some improvements may have boosted team morale, increased individual productivity, or increased your bottom line. Other modifications may have been unpopular or unnecessary. It’s important to consider the consequences of the changes you’ve had to make. You might also conduct an anonymous employee survey to obtain candid feedback on what they find useful and what they don’t.
Consider how these trends will impact your future real estate usage. If your company’s remote working is going well, you’re unlikely to require everyone back in the office at the same time. As a result of the coronavirus, some businesses have decided to become completely remote. You may require office space for client meetings or to house critical infrastructure such as servers… but you may find that you can cut back and dramatically lower your overheads.
COVID-19, like so many other sectors, will alter accounting in 2020. While many of us yearn for life to “return to normal,” many changes are unavoidable – at least in some form. Accept this and search for ways to ensure that you continue to use the best practises and new tools in the future.