Tax & Accounting Blog

Flexible and remote working – the unavoidable reality

Blog, Corporations, ONESOURCE May 12, 2020

There’s an online video that was shared during the early stages of the pandemic. It’s called The Great Realisation and it discusses the long term impact of the current pandemic. As we start to get to grips with the dramatic changes in our lives the story reminds us of what we’ve left behind in just a few short months and how different and better our lives can now become.

We’ve moved on from calling this the ‘new’ normal, it is what it is. It’s normal to work from home unless you’re a key worker. It’s normal to speak with friends, family and work colleagues via Zoom, Teams or Google Meets. We’re all becoming au fait with the technology and the ability to work remotely.

As people find their feet and get to grips with technology, businesses are facing a new dawn and many are embracing the opportunities ahead. The sudden realisation that people can be trusted to work from home means there are cost savings to be had and with no immediate end in sight important decisions are about to made. Can organisations reduce their leaseholds? Do they need so much office space and do people really need to travel to face to face meetings abroad, when video conference calls are clearly doing so much to support productivity?

‘The Great Realisation’ video story talks about how we all stepped away from our devices to engage with our families and that children’s eyes were no longer square, but we also need to accept that technology is absolutely crucial to this new way of working. A variety of cloud services are removing the barriers to productivity and key elements such as workflow and the Internet are crucial in keeping businesses moving forward. Key decision-makers are realising that if they invest in the right tech and support their people properly, they will be able to work smarter from home.

In many cases, they’ll be able to work better than they ever have before. The stresses and strains of the daily commute, the removal of unproductive downtime and delayed trains means that there will be fewer interruptions, and those interruptions such as home schooling are ones that we can adapt to, ones that actually mean something rather than just standing on a cold station platform waiting for your delayed train. Productivity will increase and indeed, the ability to think and act strategically will mean we can perform better than ever before.

The reality of cost-cutting has been key to survival for so many businesses but as the dust settles companies are going to carefully question their spending. Do we spend vast sums on an office space that’s going to remain underutilised or do we invest in better equipping our workforce, removing barriers and enabling them to do their jobs better? And as we progress through 2020 and into 2021 businesses are going to find that their people will want to retain some aspects of this newfound way of working. They will perhaps discover a happier and more productive workforce.

Perhaps and hopefully, the story is right, hindsight is 2020. The once mythical work/life balance could now become a reality for many where we finally strike the balance between the workplace as well as our personal lives. Yes, offices will still be needed just less so than before. While we won’t want to completely get rid of personal contact, we’re social creatives after all, organisations will need the right technology to support this new connectivity need. The good news is it already exists. That connectivity will enable us, as humans, in our personal lives, at work and across the C-suite, to find better ways to run our businesses and make more informed decisions not just for the bottom line, but for all of us.

This post was created in response to the COVID-19 virus and its impact on tax and finance professionals. For more information to help support you and your business, visit our COVID-19 resource center.