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?
Too many people seem to be adopting a long hours culture. It’s partly because of the lack of options during lockdown but now it is time to STOP.
Your productivity decreases throughout the day. My average work week is just 25 hours with perhaps 90% of the output of a 40 hour week. A lot of my work requires my brain to be firing on all cylinders and that’s not the case as I start to tire.
So why do people work 60-80 hours per week instead of employing a second person for the job? It’s usually because they’re not making enough money to employ somebody else. On a quick Twitter poll the other day 25% of respondents were making LESS than minimum hourly wage. And a further 8% (33% altogether) were earning a lower hourly rate than in their previous employment.
So increase your prices (we run regular webinars on this) so that you can afford to employ/outsource. When your own hours reduce you will probably find that your productivity increases so that you can provide a better service to your customers.
I have a deadline! I have until 21 June to get back in shape and get my life together. Yes, I’ve coped pretty well for the last year (and I’m aware that many have struggled) but I want to get back to thriving and actively enjoying life rather than making the best of things.
I know what I want to look like (20 years younger and a stone slimmer 😉) but I also need to think about what I want my business to look like. I don’t know about you but my 2020 plans were put on hold and 2021 was also curtailed. Although I managed to double the size of my business it was much more Plan Z than Plan A.
How did you do through the various lockdowns and restrictions? Was it business as usual or did you have to pivot? Will you continue with your new style business or will you go back to Plan A or do you have a new plan?
Will you work from home or office or a local hub or home office like me? I know a few people who have moved to bigger houses because they will be working from home more in future and want a proper office rather than a corner of the kitchen table. What will happen to your office premises? With the technology to work from anywhere in the WORLD where will you work from?
Did you introduce new tech for remote working and other efficiencies or have you spent the last year being cautious and cutting all costs possible? Do you need to invest in your business again?
Did you enjoy spending more time with your family and will you keep up baking banana bread or the foreign language you’ve been learning? Or were you too busy to do any baking? Are there any good things that you want to retain in your life and your business?
With a provisional date on the horizon we need to start preparing for the post-Covid, post-Brexit world.
What will you do from pre-Covid, what will you do from Covid and what are you looking forward to starting post-Covid?