When Firms Aren’t Even Remotely Remote

Formalizing remote work



Do you know the status of your firm’s remote work program? During a recent CPAFMA Remote Work webinar, participants were queried and less than half said they currently had a formal program in place.  This coincides with the findings from the 2018 Convergence Coaching Anytime, Anywhere Work (ATAWW) Survey which identified only 47% of CPA firms stating they had a structured program for remote/flextime work. What these two surveys point out is that less than half of today’s CPA firms have formalized their remote work programs, which is jaw dropping especially when considering the mandatory virtual requirements of the COVID pandemic. The reality is that remote work is here to stay and offers significant competitive advantages. Whether you create a separate remote work policy or incorporate components into your existing computer and internet usage policies, below are steps to formalize your remote work program.

Core hours

Flexibility is one of the key benefits of remote work programs in that personnel can work when they are most productive and around their personal and family schedule. While some tasks can be completed individually, there are many that require real-time collaboration which prompts most firms to mandate availability during ‘core’ hours. For example, from Monday through Friday, remote personnel are expected to be available from 10am to 3pm, and outside that by appointment. If your firm allows for Fridays off during the summer months or requires availability on Saturdays close to tax deadlines, this should also be spelled out in the policy to properly set expectations.

Expected response time

Out of sight should not be out of mind. Beyond availability during core hours the policy should outline expected response times for email, phone and other communications requests. For instance, internal communications are to be cleared/responded to at the beginning and end of each remote person’s workday as well as responding to external inquiries within one business day. Updating availability status within a collaboration tool such as Microsoft Teams or Slack should also be included so everyone knows when individuals are available.

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Source: AICPA

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