Remote work has rapidly increased across all fields, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic. Accounting and finance are no exception: these industries prominently appeared on FlexJobs' list of the top 100 companies offering remote positions.
When people have the chance to work flexibly, 87 percent take the opportunity. Only one in four jobseekers wants an on-site position, and almost 70% of companies now want the majority of their workforce to work from home at least once a week.
Transitioning to a remote or hybrid approach brings about benefits for accounting firms. Let’s get into it.
The benefits of remote accounting
Working remotely may allow accountants to create a comfortable, quiet home office setting optimal for the deep focus and attention to detail required in their work. Studies show this type of environment improves efficiency—in a study by Future Forum Pulse, 29% of remote workers reported higher productivity and 53% reported a greater ability to focus.
Better work-life balance
Working from home may also allow accountants to maintain a healthier lifestyle. Seventy-one percent of US teleworkers say working from home helps them balance their work and personal lives. They can be present for family commitments and not miss out on important life moments. For an accounting field known for its demanding hours, especially around tax time, remote work arrangements hold great appeal.
Enabling remote work leads to significant cost savings for accounting firms. The most substantial savings come from eliminating expenses associated with physical office space: rent, parking, utilities, supplies and equipment. Helping your team transition to home offices costs significantly less than setting up and operating traditional office spaces. At the same time, employees working from home will save money on commuting, lunch and other daily work-related expenses.
Access to a broader talent pool
Location is no longer a constraint for hiring: companies can recruit professionals from across the state or country and build teams with the exact specialized expertise needed. This results in higher quality work and better outcomes for accounting firms and their clients.
Employees also benefit from having access to more remote job opportunities, as they can work for companies outside their geographic location. This mobility empowers accountants and other professionals to find the best roles aligned with their skills and interests.
How to successfully transition to remote accounting
Transitioning to remote accounting requires some thoughtful preparation. Here are some recommendations for going remote:
Set up a technology stack
Equip yourself and your team with essential remote accounting technology: cloud-based accounting platforms, video conferencing tools such as Zoom and communication platforms such as Slack. You’ll also need workflow and practice management solutions.
One more important consideration is choosing the right project management software to optimize workflows and enable efficient collaboration. For example, TaxDome, a comprehensive practice management software, offers a free 14-day trial for accountants to test out its capabilities, along with free support and onboarding sessions.
Establish clear policies
When creating comprehensive remote work policies for your team, keep the following stages in mind:
- Define communication protocols: expected response times, channels to use for different topics, rules for video calls
- Establish data security policies: mandatory device encryption, password requirements, multi-factor authentication and rules around accessing networks and sharing files
- Encourage maintaining set schedules: specify core working hours and expectations around availability for meetings and collaboration
- Set clear performance expectations: establish productivity metrics and implement project management software to track work
- Outline training and onboarding processes: set procedures for new hires and specify team building to maintain engagement
- Continuously review and update policies: get feedback from your team when crafting initial policies and as you optimize remote workflows
Optimize home workspace
Here are a few tips on creating an ergonomic, dedicated workspace at home:
- Invest in proper lighting, whether natural light or desk lamps, to reduce eye strain
- Choose comfortable, adjustable furniture and equipment, such as dual monitors at eye level to avoid neck and back pain
- Minimize distractions by decluttering your desk
- Have separate spaces for work and breaks to mentally differentiate tasks
Continuously reassess your setup and encourage your team to do the same to enhance productivity and comfort when working from home.
Ace time management
Develop consistent time management strategies for your team to stay productive:
- Identify your peak productivity hours and set your schedule around them: block off time for deep focus work and build regular breaks into your schedule to recharge
- Use productivity methods: maximize focus during working intervals with the Pomodoro technique and align routines accordingly
- Leverage time tracking tools: analyze how you currently spend your time to eliminate distractions and optimize your schedule based on the data
Maintain a work-life balance
Prevent burnout and sustain productivity by setting clear work-life boundaries:
- Define core hours and minimize after-hours work by muting low-priority notifications
- Establish a consistent end-of-day routine to wrap up outstanding tasks before shutting down
- Make time for activities to fully disconnect from work
You and your team will be more productive at work if you can successfully detach from work-related concerns outside of working hours.
Prioritize information security
Vigilance with information security is critical when working remotely: use multilayered measures, such as device encryption, strong, unique passwords, multi-factor authentication apps and VPNs to control access.
Only connect through secure networks and follow protocols for sharing sensitive files through channels like password-protected cloud storage. Just like you lock the office door, establish digital barriers to safeguard confidential accounting data when working from home or in public places.
Test remote processes
Carefully test new tools and workflows before full implementation and conduct trial runs during slow periods to identify hiccups before peak times. This allows working through challenges on a small scale first, preventing productivity gaps. Taking the time upfront to thoroughly evaluate and refine remote systems streamlines the transition and setup.
Stay on top of remote work trends
Continuously evolve your skills as remote technologies rapidly change:
- Attend webcasts on cybersecurity
- Take time management courses online
- Join virtual communities to exchange ideas
The acceleration of remote work is transforming the accounting industry, and those working in the industry will need to adapt to it. Accountants who proactively upgrade their remote capabilities will be poised for success.
Future trends in remote accounting
Artificial intelligence (AI) will become increasingly integrated into accounting workflows to augment human capabilities. You will be able to:
- Automate routine tasks
- Gain insights from data
- Enhance decision-making
As remote teams grow, AI coordination will help manage workflows and assignments across distributed members. Those who strategically leverage AI as an ally will boost productivity and provide more valuable insights to their organizations.Learn more about the promise of AI in transforming accounting>>
To increase efficiency and productivity, more and more accounting tasks will be automated. While intelligent software streamlines everything from data entry to report generation, remote accounting teams can focus their efforts on high-value strategic tasks. The combination of automated workflows and remote human talent will define the future of accounting.
Evolution of remote tools
Tools enabling remote collaboration will continuously improve. Expect more seamless integrations between platforms, contextual features and smart functionalities. Virtual and augmented reality may also emerge for remote training and team building applications.
How a TaxDome client implemented remote work
Carter Cook CPAs works remotely with clients from all over the US. Michelle says:
Check out our blog on how to build a new-age accounting firm>>
I’ve had fantastic feedback on the mobile app. I love that I can send organizers through the portal. I record a Loom video that explains how to use organizers. With video instructions, clients are able to fill it out whenever it’s convenient for them. If they want to do it at 10pm, that’s fine! It frees up my schedule to be able to focus on things other than paper pushing.
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the shift to remote work in the accounting industry. This transition continues, and clear benefits are emerging: enhanced productivity, cost savings and more. However, to maximize these benefits, careful planning is required when adapting processes and workflows for a remote setting.
The future is pointing towards the remote work setup, but success requires constant learning. Professionals should continuously upgrade their remote capabilities through learning to capitalize on opportunities such as automation and AI. With the right strategies, accounting companies and their employees will reach a work-life balance, and innovation and productivity will flourish.
Subscribe to our news!
We will send you the best of our blog just once a month. We promise.