Co-founder, VP Product Marketing Karbon
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Embracing remote work in your practice

8th Sep 2016
Co-founder, VP Product Marketing Karbon
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Growing numbers of accounting firms are capitilising on the practical benefits of remote work, allowing staff to work away from the office, and in some cases, even doing away with a physical office all together.

In a new content series exploring the generational shift in the accounting profession, Ian Vacin of Karbon takes a look at remote working.

A remote team will allow you to scale faster and hire the best talent available. Having this option is a big selling point to staff, allowing them to reclaim the unproductive hours they spend commuting, work around their family circumstances, be away from distractions at the office, or simply work at the time of day (or night) they are most productive.

Thanks to advancements in technology (led by the movement to the cloud) it has never been easier to have remote employees and many practices are taking advantage of that. Yet there are still others that aren't giving it serious consideration. Commonly, this is because of variations of these three reasons:

A lack of trust

There are more distractions at home than in the office, so how is an employee going to get their work done when they could just as easily watch TV or surf the net? The truth is there is nothing stopping your staff from indulging in similar distractions at their desk as well- coming into the office does not guarantee productivity. If you can't trust your staff to get their job done without you looking over their shoulder, then you've hired poorly. It's not your job to be their babysitter. The right staff who have a passion for their work can, and will, get their work done from anywhere.

Not knowing what staff are working on

There's a fear that if you can't see your staff, you won't know what they’re working on. The technology available to accounting firms today means that there is no reason you should be left in the dark about this, no matter where in the world your staff are. Every firm can, and should, have systems in place to provide complete visibility across the company, allowing everyone to know who is doing what, when, and with who. Watching the back of their head while they do it is unnecessary.

Company culture will suffer

Company culture is about the actions you take and the trust and values you share. It's about how you treat your clients and each other. Proximity isn't necessary to make this strong. With the right systems in place to collaborate and communicate as a team, you may actually find your staff talking to one another more than if they were in the same building.

Overcoming these excuses

Granted, managing a remote team isn’t without its complications. The solution is to have a plan in place, supported by technology that will allow for communication and collaboration among your team from anywhere. Clear expectations and responsibilities should be outlined, and regular catch-ups maintained - actions your practice should already be carrying out anyway.

If you have the right systems and processes in place, you will find that collaboration, communication and visibility will not be sacrificed. In fact, you may even find that it all works even smoother than if you were all in the same building.

It's never been easier to communicate and collaborate with your team from anywhere at any time. It's time to let go of old ways and embrace the possibilities now afforded to you and your staff.

 

Have you embraced remote working in your practice? What has the experience been like for you?

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By Counting numbers
08th Sep 2016 14:31

Worked remotely for years before I set up myself. Trust is a major factor alright. Every week I sent through a summary of what I was working on for that week. It was great as it gave me a focus but allowed the trust to continue with the director. I got far more work done working remotely compared to being distracted in the office.

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By angusnicolson
14th Sep 2016 20:12

Our practice was designed to allow remote working from the outset, partly due to our original location on a Scottish island.

Now, virtually all the employees across three offices can work remotely and processes are designed to facilitate this.

The real benefit is that we - the directors - work remotely from Florida for 6 weeks every summer without clients knowing or caring where we are.

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