Most accountants have now been working from home for more than a year!
And though the future is looking brighter and lockdown continues to ease, the direction of travel for many firms will be to continue with a version of remote working for the longterm in order to offer increased employee flexibility and keep office costs low.
But many accountancy firms have invested considerable time and money over the last decade in establishing a brand and workplace culture that they are proud of. The evolution of how we work as accountants post COVID shouldn’t unpick that hard work and we’re certain that senior accountancy leaders will be pleased to hear our top tips on maintaining workplace culture when your staff work remotely.
5 tips to maintain workplace culture for remote working accountants
1.Communication and contact
Your workplace culture is established and passed down through the ranks principally by your people. We’ve talked at length at Public Practice Recruitment Ltd about the need to provide employees with plentiful opportunities to get together remotely in a formal and informal way. We recently gave managers ten ideas for free wellbeing at work resources and one of the main recommendations was to ensure that a clear line management structure with active listeners was in place. This will also really support your workplace culture as employees will feel heard and integral to the success of the firm.
But don’t forget your employees will need more relaxed opportunities to spend time together and you’ll find plenty of ideas to encourage informal communication and contact remotely in our article on staying connected in lockdown.
2. Trust and feel trusted.
A great number (certainly not all) of your employees will have noted a greater work life balance as a result of remote working. There’s a danger that firms undo that positive step by micro managing their staff into endless box ticking exercises where they must showcase how they make use of every minute and every hour. Accountants who feel trusted to get on with their jobs will form a greater bond with the success of the firm and greater alignment to its values. Consider using cloud based project management tools such as Trello, Monday, Slack or Microsoft Teams where your staff can update their progress on various work streams as they work. This will also ensure that your collective workflow remains cohesive and clear to all who are involved without the need for micro management.
3. Find alternative ways to spot problems before they become a crisis.
Prior to remote working, line managers were likely to have had plentiful opportunities to spot potential employee risks to workplace culture in advance of them becoming a crisis. Your workplace culture may involve certain standards of conduct and behaviour that you’d expect all staff to follow. A lack of face to face contact might mean that slips to these standards are hard to spot. For those reasons, should your firm look to make some version of remote working permanent, there must be space for some kind of spot checking or quality assurance. That might mean asking staff to meet for a coffee in person, one day a week where everyone must check in to the office or perhaps conducting 360 degree appraisals or similar.
4. Problem solve…. together.
Though the last thing your staff or management would want are endless unnecessary meetings, one thing that your workforce will all benefit from is a feeling of togetherness when it comes to maintaining workforce culture. Troubleshooting or problem solving alone can feel really grim and encourage a feeling of isolation in your staff. A fortnightly team chinwag where anyone can bring any problem to the table and receive ideas, encouragement and support on how to tackle and solve it in a positive way will be well received by your team of accountants and reinforce the positive culture of togetherness that you’ll no doubt value.
5. And finally…. manage performance.
If your firm wants to enforce a workplace culture where staff are expected to provide a great service to your clients, they need to be backed up by a similar level of service to the workforce and a commitment to fix what’s not working. So if you have a consistently weak link in the team or you notice that your organisational structure requires tweaking to meet the changing demands of practice, that’s when you need to make bold decisions to manage, hire and potentially fire. Your workplace culture requires that of you even in a remote working situation.
“The culture of your workplace should be visible to the people applying to be in it right from the moment they see your job advert. If you’re proud to offer flexibility and trust in exchange for a great work ethic and experience you know your clients will benefit from, make sure you’ve reviewed your employee value benefits to reflect the changes brought about by remote working. Candidates will want to understand how your workplace culture has evolved over this last year. And if that’s something you need help showcasing in a way that will attract talented accountants do reach out for our expert advice.”
Garry Howling, MD, Public Practice Recruitment Ltd
Public Practice Recruitment Ltd recruits high-calibre accounting professionals at all levels for tax, accounts, and audit vacancies on both a permanent and temporary basis for accountancy firms.
Call Public Practice Recruitment Ltd today on 03335 777 787 to discover how we can support you.