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Coronavirus - Boris suggests working from home

Many accountants already do ...and it works... but how to implement if you have staff?

Didn't find your answer?

I see in todays paper that the government is suggesting working from home to reduce the impact of the Cronavirus.

I have long been an advocate of working from home. I cant understand why the government doesnt give incentives to firms to enable more staff to do so.

Think of the savings in travel costs, time, environment as there wont be so many cars/buses on the road, possible reduction in car accidents, ... I could go on.

I have people working for me who are based at home, clients whom I never see (apart from on skype). 

It needs planning (and trust) but it can work.

We now have the cloud, emails, texts, skype and can make contact every minute via such technology.

Obviously for some businesses it would be a no no (not least HMRC) but accountants? Do staff have to work 9 to 5 at the same desk month after month? Or are they forced to do so just so their manager can keep an eye on what they are doing? If you want to see what staff are doing there is software that notifies when someone is logged on. Granted it would be difficult with the more junior staff as they need a holding hand but experienced staff? 

So if your firm has staff based in an office will your firm be taking up Boris' suggestion and if so how will you impliment?

Serious comments please so Accweb can pull together into an article.

>>> PS>>> name of virus corrected

Replies (28)

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Lone Wolf
By Lone_Wolf
02nd Mar 2020 09:58

Serious comments...okay I'll give it a go.

Working from home isn't ideal for me. I can do it, but I've got kids that can cause interruptions (although on balance they're probably less irritating than some colleagues), and space is at a premium meaning I don't have a dedicated work space, which I find to be the biggest nuisance - no double screen or mouse to use as I'm working on the laptop.

Our workplace has all the software to enable working from home, but I imagine others will face a similar issue to me in that they just don't have the space at home to dedicate to work. (Maybe I should try and get a bigger house on expenses?)

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Replying to Lone_Wolf:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
02nd Mar 2020 10:57

Re getting the bigger house on expenses, you need to post an A Web question using Anonymous as your name.

I would never have been able to work from home without a study, for one thing it is the only bit of the house where I could enjoy a cigar when I smoked them. (Now a pipe-economy drive), secondly I am a paper person so having somewhere it all stayed and a letter tray downstairs for all firm post avoided things going missing.

Whilst not a big room, circa 8ft by 8ft with a [***] ceiling and a Velux, it was sufficient for a desk, laptop, large file storage unit and swivel chair- it also has my boxed HHGTG radio series set-essential when writing up books.

It is amazing how much stuff accumulates, I ran out of space for most textbooks and they mainly had to live at work- I suspect for those who fully embrace a digital lifestyle it can all readily be done from a laptop in Starbucks, for the more analogue amongst us, those who only trust paper , a room is required and if I had carried on in practice I would have been looking to snaffle one of the kids bedrooms when they depart (one goes next month but wants her room kept, other departs for USA after he gets married this year, his room certainly would have been fair game)

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Replying to Lone_Wolf:
Image PN
By Mr Hankey
02nd Mar 2020 11:41

"I've got kids that can cause interruptions (although on balance they're probably less irritating than some colleagues) "

Love it !

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paddle steamer
By DJKL
02nd Mar 2020 10:00

Corona not Crona, as in lager and cigars.

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Replying to DJKL:
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By Tax Dragon
02nd Mar 2020 15:08
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paddle steamer
By DJKL
02nd Mar 2020 10:06

If this takes off then it could be really bad news for commercial property landlords like us, if firms find it does work for them they may, in the fullness of time, accelerate the move away from office use that we have already started to observe within the tertiary market over the last ten or so years.

So high street retail looks soft, office market getting soft- the only growth area (apart from coffe/drinks/ leisure use) is large storage and distribution sheds, driven by Brexit needs, which is the one sector of the market we do not cover.

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By SkyBlue22
02nd Mar 2020 10:35

Working from home is fine for senior staff... but not if they have to manage junior staff. My office has flexible working but there is a rule is that there must be a senior from each team in at any time. If trainees need to be managed then someone has to be in to manage then.

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By mbee1
02nd Mar 2020 10:38

All our staff except the reception/admin team are able to work from home and have been able to do so for a few years. We use laptops rather than desktops anyway and provide them with a second screen at home. They all have an office mobile and we've just upgraded our telephone system so they can also take calls if a client calls the office.

All our programs are cloud based so there is very little they can't do at home. Has always worked well for us and helps employees with childcare, dentists, doctors, etc. as they can just block a bit of time out for stuff like that. If employees are flexible with us then we're flexible with them. All we ask is that they come into the office on at least one day a week.

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Replying to mbee1:
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By leicsred
02nd Mar 2020 10:51

If Boris suggests working from home is advisable what do you do re your receptionists etc - do they have to come in while everyone else is at home? Would they see that as being treated as less important?

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FirstTab
By FirstTab
02nd Mar 2020 11:07

I need clear separation of home and office. Working from home has never worked from me. I need to be out. Further, I love to get on my bike and commute to and from the office.

When I work from home it is normally what I really like doing. Office is for stuff, I would normally procrastinate on.

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Psycho
By Wilson Philips
02nd Mar 2020 12:11

Why is this being treated as an Ebola outbreak? Sure, it's serious for those whose health is already compromised, but the same can be said for every other transmittable disease/illness. They're talking about cancelling large sports events - why? If I'm (unknowingly) infected and go to Old Trafford, I'm not going to infect 60,000 people. At worst, I might pass it on to the 2 people sitting either side of me. If the match is called off, I'll probably go to the pub instead, with a much greater chance of infecting a greater number of people.

For once, the Scottish Government seem to have a proper sense of perspective over this one - "It will become as we have with people with the flu that yes, some people are very ill, some people are less ill, we accept that and people get on with their normal business."

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Northumberland flag
By MJShone
02nd Mar 2020 11:45

Would need another screen (or two), a printer and a appropriate desk and chair to make it comfortable.

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Jennifer Adams
By Jennifer Adams
02nd Mar 2020 11:58

Re kids... this is what the people who work with me have in common... they have kids and they fit the work round them. As long as they do the work it doesnt matter. They love the flexibility.

Re receptionists.. there are such things as virtual assistants.

Yes... they each have an area where there is a study as have.

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Replying to Jennifer Adams:
My photo
By Matrix
02nd Mar 2020 12:39

I work from home but the kids go to school so the school will be a bigger breeding ground than anywhere I could go. It has already shut once but has reopened.

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Replying to Matrix:
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By Mr_awol
02nd Mar 2020 13:11

Matrix wrote:

I work from home but the kids go to school so the school will be a bigger breeding ground than anywhere I could go. It has already shut once but has reopened.

I think the point might be by allowing home working you (with your heightened potential for infection via the engorged breeding ground of germs you have indirect access to) do not infect those that may not otherwise be exposed - rather than just to protect you from colleagues.

Still wouldn't work for me, but people should think about it both ways - how they can prevent themselves from infecting others, not just how they can stay virus free.

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By Richard Grant
02nd Mar 2020 12:48

I work from home entirely cloud based as a subcontractor and it works very well. As others have said you need a dedicated workspace and IT. I have no children to contend with but a noisy cat that likes to walk on the keyboard.
For me the biggest issue is communication. Some firms I deal with resolve issues etc very fast by email and skype whereas others can take a week or more. So if you do push remote working for your staff keep you phone on and reply to emails when you get them otherwise the firms productivity will drop through the floor.

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By SteveHa
02nd Mar 2020 13:01

I simply don't have the discipline to work from home. There are far too many things to do at home that are much more appealing than working.

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Replying to SteveHa:
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By alialdabawi
02nd Mar 2020 15:56

Hear Hear!

Though not much choice at times.

Re interruptions from kids, I have managed to programme my 2yo to sit at her desk and chair doodling if her daddy is at his desk, but it seldom lasts more than a few minutes before she insists on pressing her initial (and now the increasing list of letters she recognises) on my keyboard. Should never have taught her the alphabet...

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By K81
02nd Mar 2020 13:07

wouldn't work for me at all, no space in our tiny home plus three teenagers all hogging the internet! Plus home is where I come when the working day is over, I don't want it following me home.

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By Mr_awol
02nd Mar 2020 13:14

I'm very inefficient working from home, so try to avoid it.

It also makes collaborative working difficult, as well as limiting your ability to supervise others.

We have allowed home working on a subcontract basis but have agreed piecework rates for that. I wouldn't pay a homeworker/subbie by the hour

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Replying to Mr_awol:
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By Richard Grant
02nd Mar 2020 13:30

As a subcontractor that is the only way to be paid. It gives both sides certainty.

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By Bob Loblaw
02nd Mar 2020 14:45

We're still somewhat paper dependant and have a lot of support staff whose job revolves around filing and archiving. How do they work from home? The cabinets are quite heavy and Dotty only has a bus pass.

For the tax managers/case workers, etc, it would be fairly easy to work from home for a period of time at least. Personally I'd be itching to get back into the office after the 17th episode of The Chase and 29373744949th bourbon biscuit.

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Routemaster image
By tom123
02nd Mar 2020 14:54

Not sure if my welders can weld from home, and it is quite a long way for my forklift to travel on the highway.

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Replying to tom123:
By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
02nd Mar 2020 15:28

Quite. My brother in law may struggle to fix transit vans from his flat.

I am also intrigued as to who has 3-4 weeks food in during a lock down....we normally manage about a week before the fresh stuff runs out, then its going to pasta with baked beans on top for a couple of days before its rice & pea's with random condiments and whatever else is in the freezer and then going feral by the third week when we are down to snorting spices and wondering the the rhubarb in the garden is ready yet.

Or are we supposing the food chain will still be breaking lockdown to keep us in sugar based snacks?

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Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
By K81
02nd Mar 2020 15:37

its storing 3-4 weeks food in my tiny kitchen that would be a problem, we usually shop every three - four days but I have a houseful of males who eat everything in sight!

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Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
02nd Mar 2020 16:31

Our shopping already done- we are currently eating our way through our unused Brexit supplies from March 2019 .

One of my employer is concentrating on more essential items, cases of Gin and multi pack tonics.

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Sarah Douglas - HouseTree Business Ltd
By sarah douglas
02nd Mar 2020 17:04

No, I much prefer an office environment and will be heading to the office as normal. I will make a daily judgement, but life needs to go on as normal. We are a face to face accountancy practice and have quite a few meetings organized. However, no shaking hands will happen and generally abide by sensible precautions.

I have hand sanitizers all over the office.

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Jennifer Adams
By Jennifer Adams
05th Mar 2020 08:40

I was looking to pull all your comments into an article but Nigel got there before me and placed a blog on the same subject the day after this post!

See here:
https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/community/blogs/nigel-davies/why-firms-n...

Thank you everyone for your comments (29 I see!) but there is no point in writing two articles on the same subject!

Pity..

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