Op-Ed Written by Lourdes Salzmann
Remote work or hybrid environments are here to stay for many industries, particularly for the accounting, finance, and professional services industries. However, finding a healthy and sustainable balance between remote workers and in-person employees can be rather complicated.
Remote work is not something new to the accounting or professional services industries. Even before COVID, employees occasionally were able to work from home. In fact, early in my career, the work from home option was available in times of an emergency or under certain circumstances. However, before 2020, it was unprecedented for a firm to have a structured hybrid workplace model or be completely remote.
Fast forward to today, and the pendulum has swung the other direction. It’s unprecedented for an accounting firm to not have a hybrid workplace or to not offer the capability of working remotely. Companies that do not actively strive to improve this area of their business operations, may find themselves losing valuable employees who covet the ability to work remotely.
It is important to understand that an employee’s personality is an influencing factor in determining what type of schedule works best.
- Independent personalities may need their space to be the most creative and often prefer to work remotely. The lack of commuting not only can save on the commuting costs, but also adds hours to their work-day and allows employees to be more productive.
- Social-oriented personalities, who are productive working in group settings with others or enjoy team meetings, may prefer to work in an office. Some professionals don’t like the idea of working from home. Being in the office may offer a break from someone’s personal home life or provide a better space for productivity. The environment in some homes can be too much of a distraction.
A hybrid schedule, therefore, may be the best solution, as it allows employees the flexibility of working from home with the structure of working in an office environment. Key elements in a company’s ability to embrace a hybrid workplace is trust in their employees and an openness to work towards solving any operational complications that may arise.
Is it possible that an employee who works remotely a majority of the time misses out on potential career growth or training by not interacting with others in-person?
- For an employer, it is critical to understand that all employees — whether they work remotely or in-person — seek access to resources and opportunities in order to advance their careers.
- For example, I remember early in my career being trained on how to properly project tax liabilities, including how to calculate tax depreciation.
- The training gave me a deep understanding of the tax law and I learned how to apply the knowledge and skills being taught. I couldn’t imagine gaining the same deep understanding of the issues if I had been trained remotely. The in-person mentoring and group atmosphere went a long way in my personal learning.
The Bottom Line
Today’s work environment presents employees with unique opportunities that were unheard of just a few years ago. Organizations often manage their employee’s work schedules based on the demands of their industry. It is important for employers to keep an open mind when determining the best approach.
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