The Rise of Remote Work: Transforming The Accountancy Industry

Over the past decade, remote working has been on the rise, and the COVID-19 pandemic certainly accelerated this trend through the necessity to keep businesses running in lockdown and during a socially distanced return to work. In the UK, accountancy practices have been no exception. In fact, many practices have now moved to a remote or hybrid working model since restrictions eased, which has allowed them to remain competitive, attract new talent, and better serve their clients.

Updated: 5th February 2024

This piece takes a look at some of the benefits of remote work and how they can help modernise the industry in its approach to servicing clients.

Expanded Talent pool

One of the key benefits of remote work for businesses is the ability to tap into a wider talent pool. When a business is restricted to hiring employees who are located in a specific geographic location, they may miss out on qualified candidates who live outside of that area. This can be especially problematic for businesses located in rural areas or those with a smaller population, where the pool of potential employees may be limited.

With remote work, businesses are no longer restricted and can instead hire employees from all over the world, regardless of where they are based. This can be especially beneficial for businesses that require specialised skills or expertise that may be hard to find locally. For example, by offering remote work options, a business that specialises in software development can expand their talent pool to include developers who live in other parts of the country to help ensure they can hire the most qualified candidates for the job.

Additionally, offering remote work options can be especially attractive to candidates who are looking for flexibility in their work arrangements. This can include parents who need to work from home to care for their children, individuals who prefer to work in a quiet environment, or people who prefer to work outside of traditional office hours.

Cost savings

Remote work can also help businesses save on costs in several ways – most notably in real estate expenses. By having employees work remotely, businesses can reduce their need for office space, meaning they can benefit from savings on rent, utilities, and other related expenses. This also means saving on associated equipment purchase and maintenance costs, including furniture, office supplies and computer products.

Remote work can also help businesses save on other costs related to employee retention, which can stretch to half of an annual salary to recruit, as well as employee satisfaction and productivity. By offering remote work options, businesses can improve their bottom line while also providing employees with more flexibility and work-life balance.

Increased Productivity 

Remote work has been shown to increase productivity for many employees. There are several reasons for this, including:

  • Reduced Distractions: When employees work in a traditional office environment, they may be distracted by noise, conversations, and interruptions from coworkers. By working remotely, employees can create a work environment that is more conducive to their individual needs and focus.
  • Flexibility: Remote work offers employees more flexibility in terms of when and where they work. This can be especially beneficial for employees with other responsibilities, such as caring for children or elderly relatives. By allowing employees to work flexible and more suitable hours, businesses can help improve their overall productivity.
  • Reduced Commute Time: Commuting can be a major source of stress for many employees. Working remotely can help reduce stress levels and improve their overall well-being, leading to higher levels of productivity and job satisfaction.
  • Improved Work-Life Balance: Allowing employees to work from home or other locations helps them better manage their personal and professional responsibilities, which can improve their work-life balance, and therefore their productivity and engagement.
  • Technology: Advancements in technology have made it easier for remote workers to stay connected and collaborate with colleagues. There are a range of tools and software to communicate with team members, share files, and work together on projects, helping to improve productivity and effectiveness, even when they are not all in the same location.

Improved Employee retention 

Alongside the benefits to both business and the effectiveness of a work-life balance comes the fact that remote work has the potential to improve employee retention too. Employees who are working remotely often report a higher job satisfaction level, mainly due to the flexibility and autonomy that this working set up allows.

Employees can adjust their working environment to one that suits the way they like to work, and can benefit from more flexibility in hours and working style. This helps keep employees engaged and positive about their job, especially where employers go above and beyond to encourage and enable this flexibility.

It also means that any employees who were struggling in their role previously – whether through the costs of commuting or the balance of work and childcare, for example – are more likely to want to or be able to stay at the company longer. This, along with all reasons for improved retention, can be a big cost saving for the employer on fees to replace exiting staff.

The downsides

All of this doesn’t mean there aren’t benefits to returning to full-time office working again. For existing staff, it can often be beneficial to be around colleagues to work collaboratively, engage with their colleagues at work and socially, as well as allowing for face-to-face client meetings.

For new staff, office working also allows them to train, learn and ask questions to colleagues in a more immediate way than is possible from home, as well as allowing them to get to know their team more easily. Plus, it’s also important to remember that many employees prefer the separation in their working day by travelling to work and then switching off from work when they return home.

In summary

There are many benefits to introducing or maintaining a remote or hybrid set up in a business, as recent evidence has proven that productivity and staff engagement levels are unlikely to be impacted by not being present in the office at all times. With the cost benefits and the positivity felt by employees for a more flexible and balanced working life, there’s a lot to be said for keeping a remote option available.

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