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Managing the remote office – 5 ways your firm can promote remote working

8th Oct 2020
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Award winning Digita Software from Thomson Reuters.

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Working from home has emerged as the saving grace of the current coronavirus crisis, inspiring many accounting firms to jump aboard the current business trend for remote working.

49% of UK workers reported working from home at some point in the seven days to 14 June, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures, and many large corporations and tech companies have fully embraced the benefits of long-term remote working. So, why should your accounting firm be any different? In 2020, the merits of being a digital-only practice and running a remote office are invaluable – so, could now be the time to set up for remote working?

If you’re not yet made the move, here are five ways to promote remote working for your team.

1. Use the right remote tools and cloud-based practice systems

To get your team working remotely, it’s crucial to have the right hardware and software. Without it, your team can’t access client numbers and data and won’t be able to work productively. 

Some accounting apps can be accessed from a smartphone or tablet, but to get the full depth of these solutions your team will need a laptop and a decent internet connection. Cloud accounting will sit at the heart of your remote office, so you’ll need to be proficient with platforms like our Accounting CS software Onvio for managing your firm and Digita Virtual Office for hosting your compliance software.

2. Set up tight online security

As an accounting firm, you’ll be working with confidential financial records, sensitive customer information and private business data. To meet the proper security and governance standards, your remote office needs to be safe and secure in the online space.  

Make sure to use two-step encryption with all your cloud-based solutions and apps, to ensure your log-ins and passwords are safe. It’s also good practice to have internet security software that includes a VPN (virtual private network) so your team can safely access client data from any location, without the worry of poor security or data hacks.

3. Manage your practice workflow online 

When the team is working remotely, it’s more difficult to manage their workflow and productivity. But there are plenty of ways to access online workflows, track the time spent on each client or project and stay in control of utilisation, capacity and productivity within the team.

A practice management solution, like Onvio Firm Management, helps you run and manage the key element of the firm’s practice work, by giving full access to real-time information on each job, tracking the accumulated time against a job code and sending out electronic invoices to clients.

A big part of managing a remote team is to make sure they have all the information they need when starting a project. Onvio Firm Management provides the functionality for staff to leave notes about the progress of a job. This way you can be sure that your staff will have the right information available to them when they need it.

It’s also important to trust your staff to work – to let them self-manage and be responsible for their workflows, client interactions and planning. The challenges of the recent lockdown period have shown that remote workers can be productive, so resist the urge to micro-manage.

4. Put communication at the heart of your strategy

Staying in touch with clients will be important, so solutions like Zoom or Microsoft Teams will be invaluable for having video meetings, catching up with clients, or having 1-2-1s with staff.

Some remote workers do miss the in-person interaction of working in an office space with their colleagues, so it’s important to promote good communication within the team. Slack or WhatsApp can be great tools for instant messaging and communication between team members, and having regular online team catch-ups helps to boost engagement, maintain team spirit and remove any feelings of home-working isolation. 

5. Train and upskill your staff

Not everyone is a tech-savvy master of software, so it’s sensible to offer training and upskilling for any staff who may not be fully comfortable with the remote working tools.

Training helps your people acclimatise to the remote office approach, and over time you’ll gradually iron out the gremlins and knowledge gaps that will appear over the first few months of running the practice remotely. Helping the team to self-manage their workload is another area to flag up, helping staff to use the workflow and productivity tools to maximum effect.

Transform the future of your accounting practice

Working from home one day per week increased productivity by 13%, in one recent study. So, making the switch to being a remote practice has the potential to transform not just the flexibility of your practice workflows, but also to make you a more effective and profitable firm.

Thomson Reuters practice tools help you manage your day-to-day activities with ease and ensure you have the right people working on the right task, at the right times.

Find out more about Thomson Reuters' accounting firm solutions