Gone are the days of everybody in the office. Since covid most businesses operate some sort of hybrid system but I’ve been working remotely since 2017 and, although my old business had physical premises, we all had the ability to work remotely since 2012. We also all work different hours to suit our lifestyles.
So how do we make this work?
• We run a paperless office. All clients have access to a secure portal or they can email things if they prefer. Most clients are on cloud based software and they can upload invoices etc using Dext or Hubdoc.
• All our software is cloud based and we can all access documents remotely on our shared Onedrive.
• We have a virtual office where we can receive mail from HMRC which is scanned for us to log into our system.
• All engagement letters, accounts, and tax returns are signed electronically using XeroTax or our secure portal.
• We all have VOIP (voice over internet protocol) phones which can be answered via an app on our laptops or on our mobiles.
• We all have laptops rather than PCs so we can work when travelling. (Although I find it much easier to have two screens when I’m in my home office)
• Our calls all come into a central answering service who act as our receptionist and distribute calls to named individuals or according to who is working that day.
• We have a shared email address where everybody can see what is going on. These are flagged by colour to indicate who needs to deal with them.
• All incoming emails are automatically copied to the client account on our practice management software, Accountancy Manager. When a client calls up, or when we are working on their accounts, we can see what emails and notes have been made throughout the year.
• All deadlines and tasks are held on Accountancy Manager so that we can see who is working on what.
• We have an online meeting at 9am each morning for whoever is working that day. We discuss what we will each be working on and if anybody needs information or help
• We have a face to face (where possible) planning meeting and brunch once a quarter to plan the next 90 days.
• We don’t have a printer. On the very rare occasions when we need to print something (usually a letter to HMRC) I have to take it to the local post office on a USB stick. This is the only thing that isn’t easier!
• We contact clients by email, telephone or Zoom depending on their preference.
Remote working gives us all the benefit of better work-life balance and saves us commuting time. For me it means that I can work around the country when busy with speaking engagements or ICAEW meetings. The money saved on offices is invested in modern software to improve communication and efficiency within the business.
Do you prefer to work remotely or from a shared office?