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The accountants guide to working remotely and how to handle the challenges

The accountants guide to working remotely and how to handle the challenges

Accounting

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4

min read

It’s difficult to imagine an office job that is more conventionally 9-5 than that of accountant. Or, at least, it used to be since, as with many other professions, accounting is also changing. 

Accountants are used to working from an office according to fairly conventional hours using common accounting software of the type found in thousands of other offices. Now, however, with the worldwide trend towards remote working, the accounting trade is also realising the benefits.  

Why is remote work gaining in popularity? 

The situation is changing rapidly as sophisticated software and cloud-based accounting systems enable accountants to be just as productive from home or any other non-office location. 

Younger accountants, in particular, seek more freedom and autonomy, and see more flexibility as a given. In addition, working mothers with tight timetables and children to pick up and take care of also find that remote working fits their lifestyles much better than working from an office. 

The impact of COVID-19 is obviously playing a big part in changes taking place in accountancy offices up and down the country, with remote work patterns being embraced and bringing widespread benefits to employees and management alike. 

Let's take a look at some of the issues that are affecting accountants when working from a home office. 

Remote working - pros and cons

Benefits 

  • Not having the work commute means extra personal time, as well as for family and friends 
  • Meetings online tend to be more efficient as they are strictly scheduled and agenda driven 
  • Setting boundaries to working hours and not let it impinge on leisure time 

Complaints 

  • Complaints about neck and back pain due to computers being set up a differently from at the office  
  • Creating and sticking to consistent work hours can be difficult 
  • Finding the most productive work times. This can often be early in the morning or late at night before and after the time when calls and emails need to be answered 
  • What to wear? Most people prefer to be as comfortable as possible, but pyjamas or sweatpants need to be changed out of ahead of meetings! 
  • Dealing with small children at home during lockdowns 
  • Missing seeing colleagues at the office and brainstorming issues  

How can accounting firms manage remote working? 

Although companies trust their employees to do their work professionally and conscientiously, nonetheless there are some tips for management for ensuring that work continues to be carried out efficiently: 

  • Set clear expectations and project deadlines so that staff know when work is expected to be completed 
  • Working remotely clearly means that you cannot easily shared information on an ongoing basis with employees, so be sure to respond to messages as quickly as you can 
  • Make sure your relationships cool with employees remain strong. Be interested in how working from home is affecting them and their families, for example. In brief, make time for small talk as well as dealing with major issues! 
  • Develop a clear communications strategy so that employees know how often to check in and report on work progress, as well as dealing with problems quickly 
  • Emphasize your company's mission. It's true that trying to deal with the unprecedented problems posed by COVID-19 is problematic but employees still need to be aware of purpose and targets 
  • Continue to provide training and professional development to your employees  

How to work remotely from home

Be open and clear about anything that prevents work being carried out well 

We all need tools and management support to push through barriers 

It shouldn’t be assumed that we all know how to work remotely. Some may find it more difficult than others with regard to self-discipline, proper time management and video-conferencing. Regularly checking on how employees are managing, along with training, will help resolve process or technology problems. 

On the issue of technology, it pays to be aware of all the different types of solutions available such as podcasts, YouTube tutorials and others.


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