In March, we witnessed the biggest shake-up to the way we work that we have ever seen when businesses and their employees, across the country, were asked to ‘stay at home’.
Many of our accountancy practice and industry colleagues already had some experience of remote working, but the scale and suddenness of the transition has meant an exceptionally steep learning curve. With their clients requiring high levels of support, the need for accounting professionals to ‘keep calm and carry on’ from home has never been more important.
There is no doubt that technology has been the most important enabler of remote working during the current crisis. Cloud-based software, video conferencing and other remote networking solutions now feel like a part of everyday life, enabling accountants to work effectively with their clients wherever they are located. Some practices are also using this same technology for recruitment purposes, growing their teams at this crucial time.
While technology can never fully replace the value of face-to-face, human interaction, there is no denying that there are huge efficiencies to be gained from remote working and not having to commute or pay for the overheads of office space. Flexible and remote working also opens up a greater range of employment opportunities for more people too.
Despite the benefits of these new ways of working, across the industry our clients have also been grappling with some of the more negative aspects of enforced remote working. These include the blurring of work and home boundaries, juggling childcare, feelings of isolation, and difficulties in either ‘switching off’ or, indeed, ‘switching on’. The current crisis has also brought great uncertainty and fear – and all this must be faced while working with clients who are, themselves, facing extreme financial challenges and looking to their accountants for answers that may not exist! Our clients are therefore needing to put in place the right support in respect of their mental wellbeing.
Faced with the likelihood that remote working will remain in place for some time to come, it does beg the question whether we will ever see (or want to see) a return to a pre-Covid-19 pattern of working again.