Before the COVID-19 outbreak, only 25% of employees in the US worked from home according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, as reported by Thomson Reuters. In a matter of months, this number has skyrocketed as many businesses and firms had to shift their entire workforce to a work-from-home setup.
Among accounting firms, the concept of virtual firms has been around for quite a while now. However, a number of accounting firms have had to make a sudden change in how they operate when the government imposed the shelter-in-place measures early this year.
Many of these accounting firms have had challenges transitioning to a fully remote setup back in March, but were eventually able to adapt to the “new normal.”
To sustain the momentum that your accounting firm has right now, here are some things you should consider as a leader.
Be proactive in reaching out to teammates and even your boss so you’ll know if anyone in your team needs support of any kind. In this challenging time, being able to easily communicate with one another can help boost the team’s morale.
Having a regular communication channel, whether it be through chat or weekly video calls, can also help you maintain your team culture even when you’re not physically together.
If you can, try to find ways to replicate any bonding activities that you used to have, such as your coffee breaks or team lunches. You can have meals delivered to your team members that you can virtually share over a call, or even do karaoke nights via video conference. Investing your time and energy in these activities is crucial to keep the sense of community alive within your team.
You may have already heard of WFH or working from home. But what we need to prepare for is WFA – working from anywhere. We’ve seen during the pandemic that not everyone has space at home that is conducive for work.
As your firm continues to operate remotely, be prepared to lend your team members enough flexibility to work anywhere they feel comfortable. Make the necessary preparation so that they are fully equipped to accomplish their deliverables, no matter where they report from.
In the first few months of the pandemic, your team had to transition abruptly to remote work, and its highly likely that your clients also did. Now, without a physical office, you have to manage your clients’ expectations on how you will continue to work with them.
If you used to meet them at their location to prepare their taxes or present your reports, you may find that you’ve had to shift to teleconferences to get your work done. While this method works, you’ll still have to consider how secure your communication channels are in terms of delivering and sharing sensitive client files and documents.
To address this, we recommend that you consider shifting to a cloud-based accounting system, if you haven’t done so yet. If you don’t have the platform where you can share your files securely, signing up for popular accounting tools such as Xero or QuickBooks can be a good start.
In the past few months, your teams may have had to experiment with their processes as you transitioned to a virtual and remote setup. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to prevent us from returning to our offices, it would be a good idea to start documenting any changes in your processes. Set a time to go through your processes and discuss with your team if there are any better ways to work.
If you’ve had to overhaul the way your teams operate, you might want to look into various apps and software to improve your collaboration, such as Trello, Asana, or ClickUp. You can also use free platforms such as Zapier to integrate important apps that you use for service delivery.
One of the often overlooked but highly critical aspects of having a virtual firm is information security.
When most of your teams are working from home, make sure that the machines they are using to access your client’s financial information (i.e., their laptops, tablets, and mobile devices) are protected with antivirus software and apps. For those who log on to unsecure networks, install VPNs that can protect your devices from hacking and snooping.
Before you decide to fully transition into becoming a virtual firm, make sure that your people, processes, and systems are prepared. Explore each area and identify any aspects of your operations that need to be improved in order for you to make the necessary changes to your business model that will help your firm thrive in the post-pandemic economy.
We know how difficult this year has been for both accounting firms and their clients. We believe that to navigate these uncertain times, firms need to be agile and efficient. At Amped HQ, we’re ready to help you as you help your clients navigate the rapidly changing business landscape.
Talk to us and let’s discuss how our outsourced accounting solutions can help you fast-track your firm’s growth. Email us at email@example.com.