Will Accounting Firms Embrace Home Working as the New Normal?

April 16th 2021 | Posted by Dave Cross

Will Accounting Firms Embrace Home Working as the New Normal?

Will Accounting Firms Embrace Home Working as the New Normal?

When the first lockdown happened, working from home was seen as something of a novelty.

Over the last year, home working has become an arrangement that many businesses have adapted to, with several of them seeing more flexible working as the way forward, even after the pandemic ends.

So, does this type of home working arrangement work for accounting firms? The digitalisation of the accounting profession has undoubtedly made it easier for professionals to work with data and communicate with clients from any location. Of course, this does not mean home working is always the best choice. There are advantages and risks to consider.

Advantages of home working

Some major UK accounting firms have begun to adapt their working practices with the assumption that the practice of home working will remain. For example, The Guardian reported that PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) believes that most of its 22,000 employees will permanently move to a more even split between home and office working.

There are several valuable advantages to be gained from taking this route. Costs are reduced as travel is less necessary and office space can be given up. Many accounting professionals are also more productive working from a home office than in traditional workplaces.

Addressing the risks

Not everything about home working is positive. Internet connectivity can be something of a lottery, especially in remote areas of the country. Loss of connectivity makes it difficult for accounting professionals to communicate with other team members and clients. Security of data also has to be addressed in order to prevent embarrassing and costly data loss or leaks.

It’s also important to note that working from home does not suit everyone. Some people prefer the structure and routine of attending an office. They find it difficult to recreate this in a home office. This can lead to motivation issues, reduced productivity, and even problems with mental health.

Given the risks that need to be managed, top accounting firms are strategically planning the best way forward for the business and its people. All aspects of flexible working practices are an integral feature of this planning. This includes examining the positives that the office environment provides.

What office working provides

One of the big questions that firms are asking is whether their teams will prosper from interacting solely through speaking to individuals using Zoom or Microsoft Teams forever. The answer to this question is likely to be “no”. People already have Zoom fatigue. Many of them want to have the experience of interacting face to face with people again. Many accountants rely on communicating this way with clients on a regular basis. It can help to promote a more dedicated and personal touch.

However, accounting firms are still dedicated to working in the most efficient way possible as we all emerge from the pandemic. For many firms, this is likely to lead to a hybrid approach where a reduction in office costs is achieved alongside a more flexible working approach. This gives professionals the ability to work from home and an office in a way that best suits the productivity and success of the firm and the performance of the individual.

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