It’s the big question of 2021. Post pandemic, where should accountants be asked to work?
We know it’s a topic that some firms have already taken a firm stance on and we know it’s also one that some of you will still be debating in the board room (even if that’s now on Zoom!)
But for those of you still on the fence, or indeed for those of you who have given a return to office working or a permanent work from anywhere policy a go but find it not quite working for all, we’re here today to talk about a hybrid model and why it might just be the solution for almost all.
What is a hybrid working policy?
A hybrid working policy or a hybrid workforce is a modern way of working that has been hugely accelerated by the onset of COVID-19.
It started with a 180 degree change to home working. With firms all over the globe having to ensure their technology and operations could work remotely, businesses overcame existing logistical hurdles faster than ever before in order to retain their clients and continue to exist!
But whereas the focus in the spring and summer of 2020 was on survival, it’s now time for firms to adapt their models with the focus being on control; retaining the very many benefits the changes have brought in but also overcoming the inevitable problems that they created.
A hybrid is the perfect mix of working face to face in physical environments and working remotely with space for autonomy and flexibility. It’s the pot of gold at the end of the HR rainbow.
But what are the pros and cons of adapting your workforce to a hybrid work model?
As we’re glass half full people at Public Practice Recruitment Ltd, let’s start with the pros, the biggest of which we think is a mental shift in the way we measure the performance of accountancy teams.
Historically managers would have placed an empasis on how present their employees were, whether they were first through the door and the last to leave. Thankfully the pandemic has taught us that it’s productivity, not presence that is truly valuable to an organisation. Not to mention what an impossible bar we were setting for those valuable members of staff who might have caring responsibilities that made typical working days hard to juggle.
A hybrid working model gives your workforce some power to choose what works for them and autonomy and as long as it’s counterbalanced with a clear expectation on performance and output, this arrangement is usually better for everyone.
We’d also be mad to overlook the financial benefits to a move to hybrid working. Having a fluid office that allows for hot desking will result in cost savings in lots of areas. Lower commercial office rent obviously, but also reduced costs when it comes to facilities management and even something as simple as tea and coffee in the staff room. You’re an accountant – you know this all adds up!
You’ll be able to access a much wider talent pool. If your accountancy staff don’t have to travel as much, they’ll likely be happier to work for firms a little further from home which means you have a bigger net in which we can support you to catch the very best talent.
In 2021 we know that a well workforce is more productive, easier to manage and more likely to be reliable and motivated in the long term. And a hybrid model will be associated with heightened wellbeing giving staff the opportunities to get plentiful fresh air, exercise and enjoy other activities that enhance their wellbeing during the time they might previously have spent commuting.
And finally when it comes to reducing the commute, Planet Earth will certainly be a little happier for that!
But what about the cons?
Quite honestly a lot of the downsides to a flexible model, where you allow staff to enjoy a mix of home and office working, don’t apply to the niche world of accountancy.
Some jobs can’t be performed from home; accounting isn’t one of them.
Some sectors report a diminished customer experience as they don’t have full time face to face access to your team. It’s pretty unlikely that accounting is one of them! In fact we’d wager that many of your clients would find a virtual meeting with their accountant more convenient at their end too!
But what you do need to be mindful of is creating a two tier system of staff. The hybrid model needs to work for all and you will have some members of your team who find it logistically very difficult to work from home and others who no longer ever wish to enter the office! So you must either make your hybrid model totally flexible to be tailored around the needs of your individual workers or it needs to be a fair mix of expectation to do a little of both, right across the board.
At Public Practice Recruitment Ltd we’ve spent eighteen months supporting our clients to attract the very best accountants in a competitive market in a pandemic so there’s been plenty of dicsussion about whether hybrid working should form part of a standard employee benefits package.
And with that in mind we’re always on hand to offer you a listening ear or advice about how to make the right workforce policy for both your workers and your leaders. Hybrid is all about balance and we’ll help you find just the right one for you.
Reach out today for an informal discussion, we’d be delighted to hear from you.