Hybrid Working and The Accountancy Profession

Hybrid Working and The Accountancy Profession

The spread of Covid-19 and the start of lockdown in March 2020 have forced most companies to entirely re-shape the way they operate. One of the major concerns in the shift from an office-based to remote work has been efficiently and productively managing staff.

The two main challenges faced are checking that employees are still working as much as they were in the office and ensuring they don’t burn out. These seem the very two opposites of the spectrum; however, they are strongly connected.

Employers and management can unconsciously feel dubious about the workload carried out by their staff, as they don’t physically see them. The staff may end up over-working themself in order to impress and reassure their superiors of their productivity. In the long run, this will eventually result in burnout and, therefore, a loss of performance.

The Outcome-Based Culture (OBC) has recently gained a lot of ground, as it’s believed to be a positive shift, where both employers and employees gain wellbeing and a solid relationship built on mutual trust.

What is OCB?

As the name suggests, the Outcome-Based Culture focuses on the outcome achieved and allows employees flexibility to complete their work within the deadline. It's the complete opposite approach to the Input Based Culture, which rewards the time spent working.

The benefits of OBC

The OBC removes a lot of pressure off employees’ shoulders, giving them the freedom to manage their workload. Furthermore, autonomy over the level of success they can obtain encourages priceless qualities like creativity and innovation.

From a managerial point of view, less time is spent worrying about staff workload and constantly scrutinizing their work. The time that is gained towards coaching, leadership, and developing the business.

The number of burnouts drastically decreases while gaining a constant performance across the board. A higher level of well-being and happiness in the workplace is also attained by promoting a healthier work-life balance.

All kinds of companies can adopt it. Many businesses are currently offering hybrid work, where employees can split their time between the office and remote work. An Outcome-Based Culture is definitely favourable to this kind of setup, although an office-based company or a fully remote one can also find incredible benefit to it.

How to make OBC work

It is, however, important to correctly integrate this new culture within the company. A shift in the way work is intended to happen for both employers and employees.

One of the fundamental aspects of having a successful OBC culture is having the right person for the role. A company needs to be 100% sure that the person they have hired has all the necessary skills and mindset for the job.

Employers must be on board and realize that their time is no longer the meter with which their success is measured.

At the same time, managers and employers have to grant trust to their staff. 121s or short update sessions can be booked on a weekly or monthly basis. However, it is important to show themselves as accessible when needed.

Crystal clear outcomes need to be set, and they have to be understood effectively. For instance, it could be beneficial to have staff summarize what was discussed and agreed in their own words.

The progress of accountancy firms through Hybrid working

Flexibility is one of the main key aspects that have emerged from the pandemic in working. Only a couple of years ago a small portion of workers could have the freedom, or the possibility, to periodically work from home. The great majority of workers were expected to go to the office.

Currently, as the world has adapted and learned how to work from home efficiently, a full-time return to the office is something that many companies are avoiding. It is also true that working fully remotely is not sustainable, as communications can often be penalized by the lack of physical interactions.

A great compromise, which seems to be the way forward for most companies, is Hybrid working. It involves a working pattern where employers spend part of the week working from home and working from the office. As a result of this, more and more firms are downsizing their working space and gaining massive savings.

Accountancy firms' motivation to return to the office is predominantly to interact with their clients. Establishing and maintaining face-to-face relationships is proven to be more constructive than merely through online meetings and calls. Also, trust is certainly easier to be built when meeting someone in person.

At the same time, the flexibility offered by working from home has seen a steep increase in productivity and employees’ well-being. Elements that cannot be taken for granted by a business that aims for success.

This is why the world leader accountancy firms are implementing a Hybrid working pattern. They promote the versatility to work remotely and a greater work-life balance while granting quality time spent in contact with clients and colleagues.

However, it needs to be said that there is no “one-size fits all” formula for Hybrid work. Each firm needs to carefully assess its needs and the needs of its clients and employees. Some firms permit as little as 1 day a week in the office; some have a 3 days-in 2 days-home rota. Others simply require staff to go to the office when clients or staff meetings are running.

Particular attention should be placed on young recruits. To gain confidence in their work and capabilities, it is worthwhile for them to be in the office and bond with more experienced colleagues to improve quickly. At the same time, it is crucial to trust them in carrying out their work at home, where they can have a less scrutinized (and therefore less pressured) environment.

It is important to have staff that can adapt to this structure, whether they are new or experienced. Considering the uncertainty that still transpires since the pandemic, employees need, now more than ever, to show their willingness to adjust. This means being proactive and efficient when working from home while professional and engaged when in the office.

If you’re considering a career change or require our quality expertise to find your next stable accountancy role, contact Justin Barber on 0114 279 2843 or e-mail justin@bmrecruitment.co.uk