Want to be a stay at home accountant?
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The internet has changed the way we work. Now it might change where we work.
The idea of coming into an office is ingrained in our culture. It is where our desk, files, colleagues and working tools - from calculator to laptop - are all to be found.
But all those essentials are now online. It means that there is a revolution in working practices, with UK workers increasingly able to work outside the traditional office space. Around 1.54 million now work from home, according to the latest stats from the Office of National Statistics.
There seem to be fewer and fewer reasons to follow the Dickensian pattern of working from a central office. Client meetings might be the only real reason that you need an office at all.
With cloud-based bookkeeping and the push to make tax digital, there are fewer reasons that need you to make that long commute into the office, only to look at the same screen that you have at home.
Working remotely is part of going digital
In most practices, cloud-based tax and practice management solutions are being used in daily. The same online integration provides a solution for remote working, and younger people have a growing expectation that at least some part of the working week will be done remotely.
The number one benefit of remote working is usually seen as the increased flexibility it gives. But this is followed closely by time saved and improved work-life balance. Avoiding the slog of commuting can be a major benefit.
UK employees who work for the same employer for 26 weeks can request a flexible work arrangement. While granting the request is up to the employer, The Flexible Working Regulations of 2014 dictates that the employer must handle the request in a ‘reasonable manner’.
So an employee can ask, an employer does not have to agree to flexible or remote working. But there is a growing body of thought that says they should. Industry experts have indicated that the benefits of remote working are not limited to the employee, but to the employer as well.
- It can make staff more productive - properly managed, staff can produce more work from a relaxed home working environment.
- It can increase your talent pool - you may require certain skills from your employees that aren’t readily available in your local market, but by offering remote working you can cast your net for talent far and wide. Some key people will only be prepared to work remotely. You may not be able to ignore their demands.
- It can drive down costs - office space is expensive. If you don’t need a desk for every employee, you can spend less on space. Saving money on expensive offices, heating, lighting and furniture can show up as extra profitability.
Putting your business in the cloud
The key to remote working - and increased business efficiency - is the cloud. If your work files are in the cloud, you can access them anywhere and, when you update them, they update everywhere.
The cloud is now seen as vital for business flexibility and good practice. Remote working is an added benefit.
It means that there is no software or hardware challenge to remote working. The biggest challenge is probably having an adequate internet connection - but most people today are able to work remotely on the move by connecting to the internet through the hotspot on their phones, while many trains now include wifi access with the price of a seat.
Is there a downside?
The remote working revolution is now in full swing and accountancy practices are increasingly joining it, persuaded by the cost benefits and the demand of employees who will want a degree of remote working or will go elsewhere.
However, there could be some negatives. Some workers can feel isolated, and some new management practices will be required.
Some specialised communications software is needed to support collaboration. Platforms like Slack and Trello allow teams to collaborate easily and in real-time.
Since data can be accessed anywhere, there can be real concerns about security. Using a cloud provider that has in-built machine learning technology and that immediately spots anomalies can keep the risks to a minimum.
Worker isolation has become more of a problem. However, educating every member of the company about what every other member does and providing social spaces within the corporate network can help to overcome the problem. Being able to talk to any co-worker creates a camaraderie. The water cooler or the kettle can be a vital hub in any office. Email, Slack and Instagram can help replace the physical meeting with a virtual equivalent.
Find the funding
Remote working can drive some costs down - but it will mean investment in IT first.
At Rangewell, we are experts in business finance. We help all types of business access all types of funding - including the most appropriate solutions for accountant who are ready to equip for remote working.
With so many options and alternatives available across the lending market, that expertise is vital for your plans for your practice. Not only do we know all the different types of business funding available, we know the lenders who can offer the most competitive rates. We can even help you streamline the application process when your clients' need for cash is urgent.
And it is not just Equipment Finance where we can work to provide better answers for you and your business. Loans, Asset Finance, Commercial Mortgages or any other kind of finance - we find the most appropriate solutions while our network of contacts and our unique online tool let us find the most cost-effective rates.
At Rangewell, we can help- find better answers to all types of funding needs. Our experts work to find the most appropriate solutions while our network of contacts and our unique online tool let us find the most cost-effective rates.
Find out more about how we can help accountants find business finance to suit their needs. Our service is free.