COVID-19 continues to affect the accounting profession in countless ways. While the economy is slowly re-opening, odds are that many of the changes to companies and their offices will continue until and beyond the American population reaches herd immunity.
CPAs will always be needed, even in this very different world. However, accounting firms and CPAs themselves are still learning how to navigate and successfully operate in a post-pandemic world. Even with a constantly shifting landscape, the accounting profession can find ways to move forward and adapt successfully.
When the infection rate from COVID-19 drops significantly, the office environment will remain forever changed. Businesses and firms may find that a significant percentage of their employees choose to continue working remotely. This means that these companies will soon find that temporary remote positions have turned into permanent ones.
As the population of remote workers grows, the wider and deeper the pool of potential employees becomes. Top talent may find themselves receiving offers from companies they never considered due to geographical reasons.
This may concern some firms who are fearful of losing their top employees. However, the quicker an accounting firm transitions to workplace flexibility, the sooner they can also draw from this global roster of CPA candidates.
Examine Billing Options
The reorganization of the American workforce allows companies to rethink their business models to drive change. In an economy that’s evolving with some companies growing bigger and others struggling, accounting firms will have to find new ways to drive value and generate revenue.
One potential change is how firms bill their clients. Currently, the hourly billing model is still popular across the profession. However, in times of economic downturn, firms are either raising rates or cutting costs. To keep their revenue strong, many firms are turning to a subscription model for their clients. Instead of work being transactional, they now focus on services. Firms can then package their services to create a new billing model that helps form deeper relationships with their clients while still allowing flexibility when times are tough.
These are uncertain times. Employees are aware of this and remaining silent about the future is not an option for leadership. Communication with employees must be clear and transparent. This helps build trust, even if the news isn’t always good.
Part of the challenge here is that many companies are no longer able to call an all-hands meeting to address the entire company. Nor are managers and supervisors able to call an employee into their office to discuss things one-on-one in order to garner further insight.
Remote communication will never be as effective as it is in person. However, by its very nature, virtual meetings afford a unique opportunity to see employees in their personal space. This can spark connections, and bring team members closer together than ever before.
This carries over into client relationships too. Virtual meetings can garner great results through a personal connection that would never be apparent in an office or at a meeting table. With deeper relationships, firms can set themselves up for continued success.
Many accounting firms are dealing with more change now than they were six to twelve months ago. Even firms that have succeeded and grown during the pandemic will need to continue to find new ways of engaging employees and clients to remain profitable in the future. By preparing for uncertainty and understanding that change isn’t just likely, it’s certain, the accounting profession can emerge from these trying times stronger than ever.