The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all facets of life, including the accounting firms in Melbourne. With governments imposing restrictions, employers sending their employees home, or forcing them to work from home, people have been forced to readjust. While there are areas where normalcy is resuming, there are many other areas where the situation is far from over. Experts believe that things might never be the same again because the post-Covid adjustments might turn out to be the new normal moving forward.
There are numerous adjustments that most small business accounts have had to put in place, ranging from maximising on technology to the need for physical offices to handle various tasks.
1. Working From Home Has Worked.
One realisation that most people had not investigated in the past was whether working from home was possible. Most financial planners in South Melbourne would rent or even strive to have their own small spaces to work. This was a cost that had been normalised into the day-to-day running of most businesses.
Leaving home for the office is the surest way most parents would retreat from their children and focus on the day’s job. It has always been a place where experts exchange ideas as they serve their customers punching away the numbers. Children have always been safe in schools where they get a chance to interact with their peers and teachers acquiring knowledge to become better adults in the future.
While there are many challenges of working from home, especially for financial advisers working in small businesses such as lack of dedicated workstations, it has been proven that people can improvise and remain productive. If you are an introvert who really does not like working with colleagues around you, enjoy your own space, then working from home has not affected your productivity. Today, many firms have given their accountants the choice of whether to work from home, the office, or a hybrid approach that allows them both.
It is therefore important to understand that, while an office space still remains necessary for small business accountants, it might not have as much weight as was in the past. Some firms have already started looking at smaller spaces to save on their rent while at the same time giving the business an official space for necessary meetings and a conducive working environment.
2. Flexible Hours For Better Productivity.
Flexible hours are another trend that is currently very popular. There are times when productivity is entirely determined by specific office hours so long the tasks assigned are delivered within set schedules. Flexible working hours allow accountants to choose the ideal times when they can work. There is so much software that allows for tracking of these hours to ensure that the employee or consultant indeed meets the set hours for work.
Some financial advisers have found it fit to work very early in the morning and use the rest of the day to do other things such as home-schooling or babysitting. The 8-5 approach will likely carry less weight in the future.
3. Accounting Firms In Melbourne Are Investing In Technology.
Digitisation of accounting and tax processes has been with us for many years. However, the seriousness of technological advancement was made evident during this pandemic. Cloud applications have made it possible for accountants to remotely access files and necessary documents needed in executing various tasks. It is projected that the era of applications installed on computers and local servers are being transferred to cloud alternatives.
Practice management solutions for various business firms have also made it easier to allocate, track and review work done by remote staff. Electronic signatures have gained acceptability as they have simplified approvals and virtual workflow. Holding meetings might never be the same again considering the effectiveness of video conferencing solutions such as Zoom. This is a trend that serious financial planners in South Melbourne have embraced, and it is working for them. Boardroom meetings have never been this unpopular.
4. Client Sourcing And Management.
Without clients, there is no business. Most accounting firms have devised mechanisms through which they reach out to potential clients and effectively manage current ones. While there are a few cases where face-to-face meetings with clients are necessary, the current practices of holding virtual meetings to negotiate and close business deals have gained acceptance. Of course, the customers will still need occasional meetings to discuss key issues, but the reality is that there are many online solutions that allow for these to be done without any problems. Networking events, a casual chat over coffee in the office, or meet and greet functions remain essential but have really been reduced.
5. Business Diversification.
Most small business accountants have had to diversify their areas of specialisation to fill up the gaps left by clients they might have lost due to the pandemic. Those that specialise only in tax have had to take up other roles such as payroll management. This is what is keeping them afloat. The beauty of accounting is that there will always be demand from the market. Those firms that have been on retainers might have been forced to renegotiate terms to keep some clients. Accountants have had to manage more clients than they used to.
6. Training And Capacity Building.
One interesting aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic is that it has exposed redundancy in the accounting industry. Most accountants were still using old systems and programs in their processes. To remain competitive, the need for continuous improvement through regular training and capacity building is no longer negotiable. There are currently many webinars being held by various accounting professional bodies that allow accountants to sharpen their skills and remain on top of the game even with the changing times.
Most industries have been affected by the pandemic, but accounting firms in Melbourne have been quick to adjust to the new realities. Some have renegotiated their office leases to save a few extra bucks. Some have had to downsize their operations by sending home some staff or been forced to search for more clients. As normalcy gradually resumes, these changes will be the new normal, which most reputable firms have embraced.