Everyone is looking ahead to how the workplace is going to look. What exactly will change? And what does this mean for accountants?
It’s pretty certain that a key part of getting the economy moving again, while preventing rising infections, involves limiting the number of people who come in close contact with each other – be that while on public transport or in condensed office spaces.
Restricting workers in offices
The Government wants to restrict how many workers are travelling, with trains, tubes, and buses operating under social distancing requirements – therefore at much-reduced capacities. Reducing the number of people working in the same space together cuts the risks of increasing transmissions. Officials have made it plain that to achieve this aim, those who can work from home must continue doing so.
Indeed, the Government’s official safety guidance for businesses operating offices states the objective: “That everyone should work from home, unless they cannot work from home.”
It says: “Staff should work from home if at all possible. Consider who is needed to be on-site; for example workers in roles critical for business and operational continuity, safe facility management, or regulatory requirements and which cannot be performed remotely.”
What other ways are being considered?
Plenty of accountants will feel that they need at least some of their team in the office for at least some of the time. So, apart from simply asking staff to stay at home to work, what else might they do?
A few ideas have been suggested in recent weeks. According to the Telegraph, businesses are to be advised to split their staff into parallel teams to keep office numbers down. That would mean splitting the workforce in two – with half of the staff coming into the office at certain times and remote working the rest of the time – and vice versa for the remainder of the team.
Another suggestion is staggered starting times and work hours for staff – perhaps on rotas. Transport Secretary Grant Schapps says the move will help to prevent crowded commutes and lower the risk of spreading the virus.
Similar in thought, a new report is urging the Government to consider encouraging a split three-day week. The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce suggests firms arrange “A teams” and “B teams”, typically working Monday to Wednesday or Thursday to Saturday.
Modelled on a similar arrangement in South Korea, it would help enable social distancing at work and ease congestion on the roads, cycling infrastructure and public transport.
Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the RSA, said: “The crisis can be an opportunity for positive change. We need to get back to work, but there is no going back to normal, even if we wanted to.”
The belief that flexible working is the ‘new normal’ has been backed by leading business bosses, such as the chief executives of Barclays and WPP, who reckon crowded city centre offices and rush hours will become a thing of the past.
With these and many other changes on the horizon, accountancy partners are facing imminent hard questions on the practicalities of running a business and working out a way forward to survive and succeed.
How can accountants acclimatise?
Staggering working hours could become a big headache when planning jobs and trying to maintain productivity. You have to factor in annual leave, sickness, and maybe even continuation of furlough, among other things.
How is your accountancy practice placed to cope with and implement these changes? What practical measures and planning have you done so far?
Download our 1-page guide to see what preparation you might need to do.
You may have to think about how to divide your team. Who will be working when and how do you make those decisions? Will it be the same each week or will there be a rota? For example, team A starts at 7am on week one of the month, team B starts at 10am, then they switch the following week.
Will you have parallel teams, with one in the office one week and the other remote working? How do you accommodate your staff’s individual requirements and circumstances?
How can IRIS help?
Our recent webinar series explores these key themes in greater detail, and you can watch the recordings here.
But in summary, our software and services can support you to adapt to and overcome some of the challenges posed by the continued need for more home working, as well as staggered working hours, rotas, and parallel teams.
IRIS offers a cloud desktop solution called IRIS Hosting, which empowers your practice to run safely and successfully with remote workers for the long run. Staff get the same set up – so their home computer looks identical to the office, making the transition easy and seamless. They get all the essential IRIS and Microsoft apps – including Teams – just as normal. Practices get the peace of mind too that their data is fully protected from cybercrime and backed up safely.
IRIS Practice Management can help with adjusting staff hours. It works as the hub of your business, giving you a real-time, single, unified view of your staff, job planning, practice, and clients. You can plan, manage, track, and control everything thanks to sharing the same single database as IRIS Accountancy Suite. Customers say it saves them 2.5 hours per person per month on average.
With the Staff Planning tool, you get an easy way to organise your team’s work, diary organisation linked to job planning, and auto bulk reassignment.
Want to learn more? Give us a call on 0344 815 5500 or visit our hub at www.iris.co.uk/here-to-help.