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Accounting For Good working from home

Woman calculating task at office desk

Working from home has become the new normal in 2020. We’ve reconfigured our home offices and found ways to make our new working environments as productive as possible.

Here at Accounting For Good, our investment in technology and online systems has really paid off… for the benefit of both our clients and our team.

Paula Chegwidden, Valentyna Kors, Cliff Shen and Emma Wang discuss how we implemented the move to home-based operations and how technology continues to deliver the results our clients need.

Clean and stylish office desk

Seamless transition

March 2020 is when we started to feel the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Assistant Accountant Emma returned from a trip to China and had to self-isolate for 14 days.

This was the beginning of working from home for the Accounting For Good team.

The health and safety of our team and clients are paramount so by the end of the month most team members had made the move. Thankfully, our transition was relatively seamless. Practice Manager Valentyna explains,

“We have all the tools… all the systems that allow us to work from home very easily. For me personally, I started working from home using my own laptop but realised that it was going to be more long term, so I went back to the office to collect my desktop computer.

I set it up at home with two screens… as I am working with spreadsheets and different systems simultaneously, it made it much easier. Being able to set up a proper solution that was conducive to longer term working from home has been great… it’s just like a full-scale office set up.

We utilise a VOIP phone system and this has been extremely helpful as we can make sure that everyone’s calls are forwarded from their direct lines. It really works perfectly. In fact, some clients might not even notice that the changes have occurred.”

Buses operating on a busy road

The benefits of working from home

All our team experienced the immediate benefit of reduced commuting and financial savings. Accountant Cliff quickly settled in to a new comfortable routine,

“For me, the most significant advantage is not having to commute… I don’t spend two hours on the road each day travelling to and from the office. It actually means I have a little bit of time to do some extra work, which has been important during the busy audit time… normally I’d do additional work in the evening when I’m back at home… but now I can finish around 6pm and enjoy free time after that. Plus, being able to wear whatever I want… I feel a bit more comfortable at home!”

The only discernible problem is not having regular access to a photocopier or professional scanning equipment. Cliff also notes,

“I don’t have a sophisticated scanner at home, so it is a little difficult when I need to scan documents and send them to the client. But this is only a small thing… most of our practice is paperless, so it’s really a very minimal inconvenience.”

Business man holding a tablet while in front of the laptop on a desk

Cloud based systems

For some businesses, working from home might have created challenges, but for Accounting For Good, our cloud based systems were already prepared for this new situation.

“Besides our phones, all our other systems are on the cloud… this allows us to work from multiple locations any time of the day, week or month. As long as I have a computer and internet connection… that’s all I need,” says Valentyna.

For Paula, utilising the cloud has been extremely beneficial as it has removed obstacles that clients could have experienced as face to face meetings were cancelled.

“One of my clients moved from physically signing documents and sending them through to us just before Sydney shut down. We migrated them across to Receipt Bank and we are so lucky we did that! It could have been a significant issue for them… they are now really glad they moved to the cloud, as it has made processes much easier.

Our systems have allowed a seamless transition. We’ve been using a central ticketing system in lieu of email for a long time and it is even more important now. We all have access to the information and regardless of where we are, we can support our clients exactly when they need it.”

Woman working on office desk and talking to her colleagues thru online

Keeping connected

One of the most important aspects of working from home is making sure that, as a team, we all stay connected. We each have a different home environment… from quiet single or professional couple households to families with young or adult children, and each has its own drawbacks. For Emma, it is the colleague camaraderie that she misses most:

“While I have noticed that I can be more focused because I have a quiet environment working from home… sometimes I’m a little bit lonely. I like to go back to the office once a week to keep in touch with others and have a bit of social time with my colleagues.”

Prior to COVID-19, we would have a weekly meeting every Monday to discuss current projects, ongoing tasks and any issues we needed help resolving.

Team having a meeting via Zoom

But now, to make sure we are all supporting each other and keeping track of individual workloads, we have three meetings a week via Zoom.

The ‘Corona Catch Ups’, as they are called, give us a chance to talk about more than just clients and work.  We are sharing our personal experiences and finding new appreciations.

Emma continues,

“The catch ups we have every Monday, Wednesday and Friday are really important. Everyone has a chance to talk about what’s happening for them… we can communicate any challenges and reach out if we need help.”

For Valentyna these meetings have given her new insight into the lives of her teammates.

“We’ve never had this level of communication between the entire team… in the office I would talk to a few people who I work closely with and another person would talk with their close colleagues… but it wasn’t across the whole organisation. Now we are sharing so much information. I’ve learned new facts about my teammates that I never knew before! We are becoming more aware of each other… what’s going on in their lives, both the worries and their happy moments.”

Working woman typing on her keyboard

Useful technology

Technology has been critical to the success of our team working from home. From our existing central ticketing system to Slack messaging and Zoom meetings, these tools have made our lives much easier. Paula explains,

“We use Slack for instant messaging within the team… so it means you can have conversations with colleagues away from a formal email chain. This creates a clear separation between emails which are outward facing and Slack which is inward. It helps us keep in touch with each other easily. You can get the quick clarification that is missed by not being in the office… seeing as you can’t walk over to their desk.”

Valentyna also highlights the benefits of utilising a corporate Zoom account for client meetings and training sessions.

“With our corporate Zoom account, everyone has access to it… our team can utilise it like they would a board room. We have set up a schedule for it and people book what they need so their meeting isn’t time-limited. We introduced this so we can talk to clients, share screens and host our training sessions.

The added benefit is that now I can record. As an example, when we have a new team member, I can get them to watch the recorded session of training… I can give them access to a webinar presented by Cliff… the training has been recorded and it’s perfect! Zoom has been a really positive tool for building our resources.”

CEO Kirsten Forrester adds, “The AFG team has been amazing… flexible and productive. JobKeeper was announced shortly after we left the office and provided a hectic start to the adventure… nobody had time to wonder what they might do with that saved commuting time!

And now we’re into audit season – with over 40 audits to manage for our June year-end clients – so the pace remains high. I’m proud that our team is so client-focused and grateful that we have such a friendly bunch… it really makes this all possible.”

Happy working woman siting on her office chair and desk

How can we help you?

We know that 2020 has been a difficult year for many clients, but we are committed to helping you through the challenges you are facing.

We are Australia’s leading experts in the non-profit sector. And crucially, we understand on a very deep level the financial constraints, compliance, regulatory and governance requirements faced by NFPs.

If you’d like to find out more about how we can help you, please contact our team today or find out more about not for profit accounting.

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