The world and the workplace is changing and many firms are finding that they are capable of doing things they didn’t think possible three months ago. However, there are big challenges for the economy and for professional services, their clients and employees.
In partnership with Foulger Underwood, we are facilitating fortnightly conference calls for clients and other interested senior leaders to share best practice and challenges. The first call took place last week, where we covered some of the issues facing accounting and legal practices at the moment and between us shared some viable/valuable solutions – here’s a summary of some of the key points discussed:
- Most firms had furloughed staff already, or at least considered it, some asking for volunteers then some choosing who ought to be compulsory
- Many were looking at ‘furlough’ on a week by week basis and putting in place with weekly/fortnightly/monthly plans of whom and when
- ‘Rolling’ furlough also discussed; furloughing employees in turn, on 3 weeks rotation in teams ‘A’ and ‘B’
- Furloughing seems to have given many employees relief from some of the uncertainty
- Communicating with furloughed staff – various methods used; speaking to people each day, weekly video updates, Manager catch-ups once/twice a day
Working from home (WFH)
- Going well for most once the initial change/upheaval/IT issues
- Communications – balance between ‘being there’, supporting enough and managing productivity
- Conversation about stress and anxiety created by WFH
- Personal situations had and should be taken into account within the working week (e.g family, key workers etc ..)
- Poll indicated that there was a slight difference in thoughts on productivity levels. Some felt no impact, whilst others said there had been a negative one as a result of changes and WFH
- Timesheets still used but relaxed in manner of use; there was complete working hours flexibility for most firms: Sundays, evenings, mornings – just get it done when you can
- Productivity was not being actively evaluated yet, as people just settled into the WFH routines but a few mentioned that they were addressing this issue and outputs / measures of performance being reviewed
Essentially the issue around WFH is one of trust. In the past some people are not trusted to WFH, now as it’s compulsory, people are finding the majority of staff can be trusted so firms unlikely to return to the old version of business as usual.
- Business as usual as much as possible. Using video conferencing more
- ‘Signing’ of documents still an issue. Ingenious solutions being found on a case by case basis. Property market impacted
- General feeling of ‘working smarter’ with clients
- Audits – either have been put off until later or done virtually, questions over the signing off of audits if no stock take discussed – still a work in progress to for most. Interest in audit letter qualifications to cover scope and future sustainability
- Service Delivery – People are working very hard to keep as much ‘business as usual’ on the go and support clients as much as possible. This had taken a lot of extra time out of the working week, but improving
The following resources may be useful:
The calls take place fortnightly, the next one took place at the end of April and a summary can be found here. If you would like to join or want to know how others are adapting to these new circumstances please contact us here or email Paul.