Work from home to beat bad weather

Victor Zastolskiy/Hemera/Thinkstock

Disruptions caused by the recent weather should make accountants think again about the benefits of remote working, argues Gordon Gilchrist, marketing director for The 2020 Group.

It was about four years ago when it snowed and one of my good friends, a managing partner with some 100 staff, was mad with himself because they had not made the decision to set up remote access.

The snow came, half the staff could not make it into the office for several days, chargeable time took a real hit and fees were down by some margin. They survived and the decision was taken to implement remote access.

The next winter, when the snow came again and again, half the staff could not get to the office, but they all worked remotely. Chargeable time was the highest it has ever been, as were recovery levels, and fees for that period were at an all time high.

Armed with such compelling evidence, the partnership decided to revisit their working from home policy, and as a result, allowed anyone (subject to some obvious constraints) to work away from the office. They never looked back. Their staff retention is the highest they have ever enjoyed, staff surveys show the highest levels of satisfaction, turnover has been consistently growing and profits have taken a sharp rise – all because of the snow!

We have been seeing a terrible bout of weather across the UK and I know of several firms who have had great challenges in accessing the office. As a result, firms are having to reconsider their views on working from home. Despite research indicating that remote working is something people are looking for, far too many accounting firms are now suffering because they have not catered for this trend by implementing remote access...

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18th Feb 2014 15:20

well this a surprise !

its a state of mind, working at home is not for some , too many distractions. and as far exporting british jobs to India , especially when it comes to dealing with UK tax is in my opinion shameful

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18th Feb 2014 15:33

There is a subtle but well meaning agenda here

While I agree with Carnmore, there is still the ability to accommodate more flexible ways of working which business in general can take advantage of. 

Well coupled with the availability of quality resource (specifically people) there is value in exploring the options, and I can certainly pinpoint clients who have changed some of their core working practices by allowing staff to work more on client sites (which again is flexible working).

NOTEW: Without taking from Gordon's article, there is an agenda in promoting certain 2020 'authorised' services, which is a system that my own business has benefited from years gone by.

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18th Feb 2014 16:27

Martini time

Anytime, anyplace, anywhere.

Go the hosted route and you can work from anywhere.

I've made the decision to do this - will be in place before the summer holiday.

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19th Feb 2014 01:06

I started working at home using remote access when i had my first child.  I only came across a small number of clients where I didn't still have to travel to work to collect their records tho!  The majority of our clients would bring in a box/bag of quite hefty records that would be very time consuming to scan in.  Also still traveled to work for client meetings (maybe skyp should be used also!).  It cut down travelling but not sure if it could have completed eliminated it!  

Also if staff suddenly had to work at home due to snow how would they of had access to the records?  I'm assuming that in this situation client records were in computer format as standard, or it's somebody's job to scan them all in.  Might not be possible for the odd client who turns up with a bag full of small receipts! I guess the extent of the benefits depend on the type of clients and organisation you have. I think it's great if it could be done though, I hate traveling!

My reasons for working at home were due to flexable hours though and working around looking after the children.

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19th Feb 2014 18:14

You won't always miss the weather

I moved to hosting and then, lock stock & laptop, to home 2 years ago but now have to spend an hour 2-3 days a week sharing the dog walking duties.

Great for home/work balance but have had to shower & change clothes several times recently when I should be hard at numbers.

PS: Next stage is to move everything to India so all I do is raise invoices and walk dog :-)

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By redman7
20th Feb 2014 06:40


Paul Scholes wrote:

I moved to hosting and then, lock stock & laptop, to home 2 years ago but now have to spend an hour 2-3 days a week sharing the dog walking duties.

Great for home/work balance but have had to shower & change clothes several times recently when I should be hard at numbers.

PS: Next stage is to move everything to India so all I do is raise invoices and walk dog :-)


I love taking the dog for a walk, gets me away from the computer and clears the head :-) Good for the soul. Any business problems are soon resolved after a 30 minute dog walk!

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19th Feb 2014 21:26

i dont even bother with hosted

Everything can go in cloud


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19th Feb 2014 23:00

Everything can go in the cloud...apart from...

Iris, Mailsafe, Exchange Server, Adobe Acrobat and Able2Extract..

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By Old Greying Accountant
20th Feb 2014 13:10

Agree with Carnmores ...

... I would never outsource abroad on moral grounds, but I am sceptical over cost savings being at great as promoted also.

I think it rich to moan about the size of the welfare bill and the vast numbers of unemployed youngsters with the corrosponding burden on tax payers and then export all the jobs abroad!

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20th Feb 2014 13:35

Other issues to consider

The article may be necessarily simple in order to get the message across, but I do feel some areas have been ignored, paricularly:

- not everyone is up to it - this has been discussed in above comments - some people do require an environment with few distractions

- some people prefer to work in an office as it gives human contact - working at home, especially if single, can be lonely; and if when you get to the office many of your colleagues are at home, may mean you are working in a largely empty office

- staff having issues may not be as easily and as quickly noted and extra HR resources may be required to routinely contact largely home workers to ensure you are looking after their interests

- your computer systems are more vulnerable - you necessarily have to make your systems more open and this will be a risk that has to be mitigated by additional expenditure

- home workers should ensure that their working location does not open you and them up to business rates.  Generally speaking this should not be an issue - see VOA site, but workers should be encourage not to exclusively use an area of the house for work.

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20th Feb 2014 14:03
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21st Feb 2014 04:09

Make your house a home
For me working from home is okay in short bursts. I have seen significant productivity improvements in the office. I have also seen a better balanced home life not working from home.

Not one size fits all. Some can work from home and all is good. I for one have to have the mindset. . "Let's go to work and earn" . . Then finish for the day and relax.

You can of course remain flexible and use cloud services to remain accessible on the go, however it is important to remain mindful of data security. Encrypting devices in the event of " leaving your portable drives on the train" for example.

The tools are there to allow us all to make conscious decisions about where we work. Being aware of the choice is a great for business as flexibility does ensure continuity.

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24th Feb 2014 16:08


I don't  use Iris , Exchange server , mailsafe but yes to pdfs I use a bog standard pdf, so nearly there, I have tried alternatives to able to extract but none is as good even adobes offering, BUT I am getting there and I can use my surface table , which reminds me to update my surface blog

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