How to Support your Employees in a Return to Office Working

Is your firm making preparations to recall your accountancy team to the office?

If so, we suggest you take your time and make sure the communication in the run up, as well as the change itself is really well thought through. The repercussions of getting this change wrong are huge and could leave you with a serious shortage of accountants.

At Public Practice Recruitment Ltd we really have our fingers on the pulse when it comes to knowing what talented accountants are looking for when it comes to attractive roles. And in 2021 the vast majority of the candidates we come across do insist that at least some kind of hybrid home/office working system is on offer.

So, the first question to ask of your leadership team is why are we bringing our teams back to the office and does the return to office working need to exactly replicate pre-pandemic days?

Most likely the answer will be no. In fact we expect many firms would love nothing more than to consider permanent home working (imagine what you’ll save on commercial property expenses!) But in the same way that we’re urging employers to pause before insisting everyone returns to the office, consider what some of your employees will lose if they are no longer given the chance to work together in a professional environment.

There’s pros and cons to each option for firms as well as their people and it’s for exactly this reason that we’d urge you to work towards a flexible, hybrid model.

But whether it’s a hybrid or a complete return, a move away from total home working is a big change so it’s only right that leaders take the time to get it right.

So here’s our list of things to think about before you announce or commence a recall to the office for your firm of accountants:

1. Take specialist infection control and health and safety advice and make sure you’ve done a full risk assessment that takes into account COVID-19 security guidelines. When you announce the change your employees will want to know you’re taking their safety extremely seriously so don’t cut any corners and invest in permanent changes to allow for a reasonable amount of social distancing and improved hygiene measures in the workplace.

2. Consider what actions you will take should an outbreak occur in the office. With the Test and Trace app no longer expecting those who are double jabbed or under 18s to isolate if they’ve been in contact with a positive case, how can you proactively limit exposure and manage a situation where most of your staff fall ill.

3. Make a communication plan. Rumours spread like wildfire and with accountants in huge demand you’ll have only one opportunity to explain the change, the reasons for it and why you think it’s in your team’s interest to stick around. Get it wrong and you’ll find many of them will already be walking for the door before they’ve even stepped foot back in the office!

3. Lead by example. The last thing your staff will want to see is that they get have to work in the office but that their leaders get to work from home, or even worse their holiday home! If you’re expecting staff to be in the office three days a week, make sure you’re in the office three days a week, four would be better!

4. Now is the time for regular check ins. If you didn’t have a strong line management system in place prior to the pandemic, now is the time to create it. Managers should know more about their subordinates than just their accounting qualification. If your team member is anxious as they have a vulnerable family member at home, that’s something you should know. If they have no protected space to work at home and are desperate to be in the office full time, you should know that too!

5. Keep everything as flexible as you can. If the pandemic has taught us anything it’s that the most successful firms are the most agile ones. And an infrastructure that allows you to pivot how, where and when you work is a huge asset to your business.

6. Be ready to recruit. Even with the very safest working procedures, best communication and most supportive leadership team, some of your accountancy staff won’t be prepared to return and if you’re ready for that, it will come as less of a shock. So before you make the announcement you’ll want a brilliant specialist accountancy recruiter (just like us) scouting out the right talent for your firm to minimise any disruption caused by a change of team members. Contact us today to get the ball rolling! 

If you enjoyed reading this blog then we strongly suggest you take a look at the others in our Leadership Series.

Or take a deep dive into our extensive library of HR related guides to help you take your firm to the next level as a reputable employer.


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