How have the lives and livelihoods of finance and accountancy professionals been impacted in the past year? Take part in GAAPweb’s annual audience survey to have your say.
Filled with unexpected twists and turns, the past year has been more turbulent and tumultuous than any other in recent memory, with individuals and organisations around the world subject to a barrage of unique and largely negative effects.
GAAPweb – one of the UK’s leading specialist finance and accountancy job boards and a trusted partner of the AIA – wants to learn and share with you more about how your profession changed in 2020.
How many finance professionals have been on furlough? What has been the impact on salaries and bonuses? How has the accountancy job market changed and adapted?
To help answer these questions and many more, we need Accountants, Finance Managers, Credit Controllers, Analysts, CFOs and other finance professionals of all levels and titles to disclose the details of their working lives and their experiences over the past year.
We also want to ask you about established trends and recurring themes that have been identified in previous GAAPweb audience surveys.
For example, our 2019 survey found that the overall gender pay gap within finance and accountancy had grown by 1% year-on-year to reach an appalling 26%.
However, we also noted that change may be on the horizon, with the gender pay gap for several senior leadership roles including Finance Manager, Financial Controller and Finance Director shrinking annually.
Your response to our audience survey will help determine whether the events of 2020 reversed, accelerated or had no impact on such trends, while also allowing us to identify changes impacting finance and accountancy professionals.
Since working remotely, you may have noticed some changes in your team. The workplace culture may be shifting, communication could be on the decline and there might be fewer opportunities for training or socialising with your team. If 2020 has taught us anything it’s that things can change very quickly. Managing change is tricky, and for many team leaders, what worked before may not be working so well now.
For these reasons, we decided to come up with 7 tips for effectively managing a remote team.
Trust your team
Embrace the culture shift
Don’t let training opportunities slack
Socialise with your team
Have your own support network
Trust your team
Our first tip for managing remote employees is to trust your team. Working from home means that team leaders cannot so covertly check up on their teams. Although communication is incredibly important when managing change, the key to keeping afloat with the goings on in your team is not to constantly check in, chase and micromanage, but instead to empower your team with trust.
This means maybe communicating less with your team than you think you should but making the communication you do have more purposeful. Rather than having three short catch-ups during the week, have one, longer catch-up where you can really feel that you’ve made progress, such as introducing a new project or solving an issue, rather than using your catch-ups to check up on your team. Check in with your team in the morning, set expectations or goals for the day, and then trust that your team will get on with it.
When it comes to managing remote teams, you need to be aware of the different living situations of your staff. Some people are having to deal with distractions from children or housemates while other colleagues may be living alone and dealing with feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Managers must adapt the way they manage and communicate according to these different situations. It may be necessary to adapt our expectations too; make reasonable adjustments based on different personal needs. Then, if someone hasn’t met these expectations or is consistently underperforming, explore the reasons why.
For many of us, the role of a manager has become a lot more supportive than it once was. With the ongoing pandemic and changes in living and working environments, employee wellbeing should always be at the forefront of our minds.
Look out for any changes in performance and notice those who are struggling. There is a direct link between employee wellbeing, and motivation and productivity at work, so if you do start to notice a change in the behaviour of your staff, decrease in morale or productivity, this could be a sign that they need additional support. Listening and observing are two key factors in providing support to your employees. Ask your team how they feel and really listen to their answers - making sure you’re hearing what people need so you can make reasonable adjustments.
Embrace the culture shift
Keeping everyone connected when working remotely is paramount, but how do we make sure to sustain a happy and productive workplace culture when the team has been separated and are now working in entirely different environments? A culture where all people are working from home is very different to a culture with people who have become accustomed to working in office. Of course the culture will naturally change because we’re all working from home, but forcing a new culture that you think will fit this “new normal” will not necessarily work as culture comes directly from people and if the people want something different, then culture will naturally shift.
The one thing that should remain unchanged are the values which underpin the company’s culture. These should always remain at the forefront of our minds and if the culture shift is still aligned with these company values, then it should be fully embraced.
Don’t let training opportunities slack
Don’t let training opportunities slip just because we’re working remotely. Continuing to invest in your employees’ progression and learning can help boost morale in the team by helping them feel valued. If you’re stuck for ideas, GAAPweb has come up with a useful guide for some of thebest free online resources for Accountants that will help inspire you to upskill your employees.
Socialise with your team
It can’t be all work and no play! Keep the culture of the office alive by creating regular socials and opportunities to connect with colleagues. Keeping your staff connected with each other is a key part of managing a remote team and imperative for maintaining mental health and morale. The more connected your team feels, the more likely they are to approach each other for help or opportunities for collaboration.
Have a support network
As the team leader, you may sometimes feel a bit isolated from the rest of the group, so having your own support network can be a real help. We suggest creating a community of managers or team leaders where you can discuss the challenges of running a team remotely or managing others, swap tips and maybe even learn from other’s mistakes.
Are you a manager in the Accounting and Finance profession? If so, we would love to hear about your experiences, tips or advice. Please get in touch onLinkedIn,FacebookorTwitterto share your ideas with us.
As England battles with Covid-19 restrictions, we offer our advice for staying connected to your colleagues while working remotely.
According to our recentworking from home survey, 32% of our audience agree that not seeing colleagues in the office is the biggest challenge of remote working. With the county now heading into a second lockdown, it’s looking increasingly likely that many of us will not be returning to the office any time soon.
So, how will we ensure we’re staying connected, collaborating and socialising virtually with colleagues during the pandemic? GAAPweb has come up with 7 tips to help you stay connected when working from home.
Tip 1: Use project management tools
It’s difficult to know who’s working on what when all team members are working remotely. Chatting to a colleague about a particular project was once as simple as turning to the person next to you, but a remote environment doesn’t facilitate quick conversations across the desk, so we’re now having to take matters into our own hands to ensure efficient project management and general workload visibility.
A virtual project management tool is a great way to maintain visibility of what the whole team is working on. You can assign individual tasks to team members, set deadlines, prioritise tasks and more. There are loads of tools out there to choose from but for those looking for more guidance, GAAPweb has hand picked some great project management tools in addition to other handy tools to facilitate virtual collaboration in our recent article about the 9 best online tools for remote working.
Tip 2: Have weekly team meetings
Hosting a weekly team meeting is a more informal way to get an insight into what each member of the team is working on. They’re not only useful for staying connected with team members, but can be a useful way to brainstorm ideas and get help from other colleagues. We suggest starting off with a general update from the team leader and then giving each team member a couple of minutes to present their weekly priorities. Allow people to chip in with comments or suggestions that will aid teamwork and collaboration.
You can even hold meetings on a larger scale to ensure you’re staying connected with the whole office. Company meetings are a great way to maintain connections with other teams such as Sales, Marketing or any others you may not interact with on a daily basis. We suggest holding a company bi-weekly meeting and encouraging one member of each team to speak for a couple of minutes about what the team has been up to, including any highlights or success stories.
As with any meeting, it’s essential that these team gatherings remain productive, so make sure you’ve done the necessary preparations beforehand; write an agenda and set expectations, think about updates. Remember to send a link to the video conferencing tool beforehand!
Tip 3: Turn your video camera on
Turning your camera on is such a simple tip but makes a huge impact on the quality of your team meetings or one-to-ones. Since lockdown began and everyone started working from home, a large majority of meetings have been hosted through a video conferencing tool such as Zoom or Google Hangouts. Switching your camera on instead of speaking to a blank computer screen makes the interaction instantly more realistic and almost replicates a normal meeting as each team member can address who they’re speaking to, maintain eye contact and view their colleagues expressions.
Tip 4: Create different messaging channels
Encourage the team to communicate more frequently by setting up different channels or groups in your instant messenger tool, such as Microsoft Teams or Slack.
Having different groups for specific topics will encourage colleagues to not just message a colleague when they need help, but to chat about a whole range of topics, almost replicating general office chit chat. Slack is a great tool for this as it allows you to create different channels dedicated to particular topics.
For example, setting up a ‘knowledge’ channel will allow teams to share learnings, thoughts or things they’ve read with their team. We also suggest setting up a general channel for everyday conversations, a news channel for sharing industry insights or current stories and a social channel for sharing weekend plans.
Tip 5: Continue social traditions
Did you used to finish early on a Friday? Book a big table at a nearby bar for post-work drinks? Just because you’re working remotely it doesn’t mean these social traditions need to end. Maintaining social interactions within your team is important for mental health, maintaining morale and improving productivity. So how can you have fun with your colleagues whilst working remotely?
There is a virtual solution for almost everything now. Take after work drinks, for example - a virtual happy hour on a Friday is a great way to finish off the week and this can easily be hosted on Zoom or any other video conferencing platform.
However, unlike normal after-work drinks, the virtual version may require more planning and structure. Sometimes video calls with multiple people can be a little intimidating and perhaps even a bit awkward when there is no one leading the conversation. So it’s advisable to have a loose structure to your virtual drinks event. Recapping weekly highlights with the team, recognising specific team members for their hard work or achievements that week, asking colleagues to share their highlights or discussing weekend plans are all great discussion points. The important thing here is to choose something that will allow everyone to participate.
Games or quizzes are a great alternative to virtual drinks if you find that some team members are shy to speak up on camera. Take turns to host a game or assign a quiz round to individual members to ensure everyone gets the chance to participate, whether that’s answering questions or hosting.
Tip 6: Host lunch and learns
If you’re looking for a social activity with a little more structure then lunch and learns are fun yet informative and a great way to socialise virtually. They are typically less formal than a training session or workshop but have a focal point designed to expand knowledge or build new skills.
Lunch and learns can take on almost any form, from employee-led workshops to masterclasses run by local experts. You could arrange a skills-based session that is productive and gives your team the opportunity to improve useful skills, such as time or stress management, or you could offer something that is not directly work related, giving your team the opportunity to switch off for an hour and learn something completely new. The key to a great lunch and learn is to make sure they’re informative, yet fun.
If you have any suggestions for staying connected, collaborating and socialising virtually with colleagues during the pandemic then please get in touch onLinkedIn,FacebookorTwitterto share your ideas with us.
Many companies are currently adopting virtual onboarding processes for new finance and accountancy employees. Here's our advice for successfully starting a new job remotely.
With new duties, new colleagues and new expectations, starting a new finance and accountancy role can be a nerve-wracking experience even for the most experienced professionals. But what if you’re starting a new job remotely?
Due to health and safety measures designed to reduce the impact of the ongoing Coronavirus crisis, many employers are making use of virtual interview and onboarding processes. So, if you’re starting a new job in the coming weeks or months, there’s a good chance you will be doing so from home.
Because of the unique challenges associated with virtual onboarding and the likelihood that members of the GAAPweb audience will experience such processes, we decided to put together this guide on how to start a new job remotely.
Find out about your onboarding process
First things first: reach out to your new manager or a contact in HR to find out what you can expect from your upcoming onboarding. It may be that your new employer is already used to welcoming newcomers remotely, or you may find that they are still finding their feet. Whichever way it turns out, you will feel more confident about starting a new job from home once you know what to expect.
Create a workspace that works
In order to perform at your optimum, you need to create a workspace that works for you, and this is especially important if you’re expecting to be home-based permanently or for the foreseeable future. Make sure you have all the equipment and technology that you need to work comfortably and efficiently - your new employer may provide a laptop, desk, chair etc. so double check before you spend any of your own money.
Introduce and reintroduce yourself
The start of any new job often requires many introductions, and when you’re being onboarded remotely it may take even longer for yours to become a familiar face. If your manager doesn’t send around an email introducing you to the team on your first day, it’s a good idea to send one yourself. It doesn’t need to be too detailed: “Hi, I’m Emily and I’m the new Management Accountant. I’m looking forward to working with you all!”
For the first few days, it may be necessary to reintroduce yourself with your name and job title when contacting colleagues via email or speaking on a video call.
Learn the team structure
It’s important for you to learn who does what job in your team so you know who you can turn to and ask for help when the need arises. You should also find out about contacts in IT support, HR or any other department who you may need to speak to or work with.
Make sure you understand your role...
Unlike in the office, you won’t have your manager around to gently nudge you in the right direction or any colleagues to whom you can ask off the cuff questions. So, once you start a new job remotely, it’s imperative that you know everything you can about your goals and how you’re going to achieve them. If anything about your role or responsibilities is unclear, or even if you just need to double check something, make sure to ask.
...but be flexible if your responsibilities change
Although it’s key to know the duties of your new role, it’s also important that you are flexible and open to the possibility that some of your usual or expected responsibilities may change temporarily while everyone continues to get used to working from home.
Adapt to your team’s communication style
On your first day, find out which channels of communication are used by your new team to make sure your transition into the department is smooth and that you don’t miss out on any information. Make a note of which communication tools are favoured by the different members of your team - for example, if a quick question needs resolving some people prefer an instant message over a phone call.
Ask all the questions
When starting a new job remotely, it can be easy to interpret a brief incorrectly. If you want to make sure you deliver great work on time, you should be asking as many questions as possible. Each time you’re set a new task, arrange a quick call to find out more about your role in the project, what the priorities are and what you need to achieve.
Start to build relationships
It’s important to start building relationships with your colleagues as soon as possible. We suggest reaching out to the people in your immediate team and inviting them to 1-to-1 or team video calls to introduce yourself and get to know each other. Ask what they do in the team and about the projects they’re working on, but also find out about any hobbies and interests you can bond over. Try to make these informal catch ups a regular occurrence.
Remember to switch off
We get it. It’s your first few weeks on the job and you want to impress your new boss and colleagues - this desire can be even greater when you’re starting a new job remotely. However, you can only deliver your best when you’re maintaining a good work/life balance. Make sure to take regular breaks throughout the day, start and finish work on time and turn your email notifications off over the weekend.
Good luck to all finance and accountancy professionals starting a new job remotely in the coming weeks and months!
Our recentworking from home surveyfound that 14% of our audience are struggling to work and live in the same place, while another 14% have been taking fewer breaks during the day. For many of us, working remotely has caused a major disruption to our daily routines, so we’re struggling to get a normal structure back to our working days, resulting in us taking fewer breaks and working longer hours.
Now we’ve entered the second national lockdown and it’s looking likely that remote working will be more long-term than anticipated, it’s vital to learn how to switch off when working remotely for your mental wellbeing and to avoid burning out. GAAPweb has come up with six steps to help you understand how to switch off when working from home.
Unplug and turn off
Our first tip is to literally turn off your laptop or computer at the end of the day. By physically unplugging or switching off your device, you’re making it more difficult for yourself to pop back to your computer whenever you have an idea or thought about work. Yes, this means your work phone too. If you don’t have a dedicated work phone, silence or turn off your email notifications until the next day to prevent any temptation.
Write a to do list for the next day
Writing a to do list is a really nice way to visually understand what the next day will hold. It can be difficult to both physically and mentally switch off when you’ve left something unfinished, so writing it down on your to do list will help reassure you that this outstanding task will be dealt with tomorrow. We recommend treating this as a winding down exercise - writing your to do list around 10 minutes before you turn off your computer for the end of the day will help you to unconsciously start to relax and transition into home mode.
Separate your living and working space
Having a separate work area is pivotal to creating boundaries between your professional and home lives. Try working in a room that you do not tend to spend much time in during the evening. By doing so, you will make yourself have to physically move to a different space at the end of the day, helping you transition between home and work mode. If it’s not possible to have a completely separate work area, then try creating a dedicated work space. Set up a desk in the corner of the room or create a formal set up at your kitchen table.
If working in the same room that you relax in, make sure you put everything away at the end of the day so your laptop, notebook and other work items are not visible in the evening. Removing all visual reminders of work will allow you to relax and unwind better at the end of the day.
Create a routine
Establishing a routine before lockdown was relatively easy as most of us had set start and finish times, caught a specific train or bus in the morning and maybe even had a specific time for lunch everyday. Now that our days are more flexible it’s easy to lose your daily routine.
Try starting and finishing your day at the same time everyday. This will help you understand when it’s time to stop in the evening. Similarly, schedule time for lunch everyday and make sure you stick to it. You may need to be flexible on timings depending on your calendar that day but ensuring you’ve scheduled lunch into your daily routine is the best way to ensure you’re taking a break during the day.
One of the benefits of working from home is no longer having a commute, meaning we get much more time in the morning before work. It’s so tempting to use this extra time to lie in and jump online literally 5 minutes before we’re due to start work. However, getting up, having a shower, getting dressed for the day and having breakfast before starting work will make you feel a lot more energised and ready to get stuck into work. Working great habits like this into your routine will make you more likely to stick to it, helping you to feel more productive everyday.
Plan your evening
With no commute, we’re now finding that we have more time in the evenings. Although in theory this is great, if you don’t have anything planned for after work, this long evening ahead of you can seem a bit daunting and actually can incentivise you to carry on working for longer. By creating plans in the evening, you’re giving yourself a reason to switch off at the end of the day, not to mention something to look forward to after work.
With lockdown measures back in place until December it’s more difficult to do this, but why not arrange a zoom call with a friend or go out for a walk before dinner? Even something as mundane as planning the household chores that need doing can help you switch off at the end of the day.
Get fresh air
Our last tip is to get some fresh air during the day. Being cooped up inside all day can drain our energy and make us feel less productive. Now we’re in November it’s completely dark outside by the time most of us finish work, so why not take 15 minutes at lunch time to stretch your legs. Having a change of scenery can help you reset so when you get back to your desk you have a fresh perspective and more energy to focus on completing your afternoon to-do list.
If you have any suggestions for how to switch off when working from home then please get in touch onLinkedIn,FacebookorTwitterto share your ideas with us.
As one of the UK’s leading specialist finance job boards, GAAPweb is well poised to explore the attitudes and opinions of high calibre professionals operating in practice and industry across a variety of sectors. With a large, active, diverse audience at our disposal, we decided to reach out to the GAAPweb community with a survey that asked about how the Coronavirus pandemic has affected their working lives.
Results from our survey reveal that the overwhelming majority (97%) of Accountants and other finance professionals have been working from home since the start of the UK Coronavirus lockdown in March. Since then, less than a third of those respondents have been told when they will return to office-based working, while 70% remain in the dark.
53% of our audience had the opportunity to work from home prior to the pandemic, meaning that although many had some idea of what to expect, there were also a significant number who had to make the transition to remote working without any real notion of what was to come.
In this report, we take a closer look at the experiences our audience has faced over the last six months, weighing up the pros and cons to determine whether remote working works for finance and accountancy professionals.
When asked to rate their own output at home versus at the office, the majority (78%) of respondents agree that remote working encourages more productive days. For the most part, those who feel more productive at home do so thanks to fewer distractions (58%) and fewer or more effective meetings taking place (17%). It appears that, given the opportunity to get on with their work alone and in peace, finance and accountancy professionals have thrived.
However, some job titles were more prone to feeling less productive while working from home, particularly those in lower level roles such as Accounts Assistants and Finance Assistants. Respectively, 45% and 54% of these professionals feel their output is impacted negatively while operating remotely, perhaps struggling without face-to-face direction or assistance from their managers or mentors.
Additionally, a relatively high number of some of the most senior finance professionals such as CFOs (36%) and Finance Directors (31%) also feel that working from home hinders their productivity. Their broad, high-level responsibilities combined with little opportunity for off the cuff conversations may mean that these senior professionals are not benefitting from the fewer or more effective meetings to which their teams refer and actually end up spending longer on telephone and video conferences than they would usually spend on face-to-face meetings.
These senior managers and their employers must work out how to increase productivity, both for themselves and their teams, if remote working is to continue in finance and accountancy. Meanwhile, the mid-level professionals who have quickly found their remote rhythm should take this opportunity to effectively ‘manage upwards’ and thus mark themselves for a potential future pay rise or promotion.
Risks and Rewards
Half of the members of the GAAPweb audience agree that the greatest benefit of remote working is dodging the daily commute. Meanwhile, 15% favour the increased flexibility in working hours and a further 12% are most enamoured with the money they have saved while working remotely.
Despite the fact that removal from the office environment has resulted in an uptick in productivity for finance professionals, these individuals still crave social interaction in the workplace, with 32% agreeing that not seeing colleagues in the office has been the biggest challenge of working from home.
Without the usual cues to switch off and go home, working remotely has also caused some finance professionals to work harder and for longer than they might in the office. 14% said that the greatest challenge they have faced is trying to work and live in the same place, while another 14% said they had been taking fewer breaks and were worse off for it.
Does remote working work for Accountants?
93% of respondents agree that they would like the opportunity to continue to work from home even once usual office work can resume, so they can continue to enjoy time and money saving benefits as well as their more productive professional lives.
Before the pandemic, 35% of those permitted to work from home did so once per month, while 28% worked remotely once per week. Post-Coronavirus, 47% would like to work remotely a few times per week, while 32% want the freedom to stay at home as often as they like and 16% want to be remote every day.
The overwhelming majority (93%) of respondents agree that, overall, their employer adapted to remote working with speed and success. However, 44% of respondents acknowledge that employers could have done a better job of supplying equipment and resources (25%) and communicating the latest developments (16%).
The success of future remote working in accountancy is dependent on the actions that employers now take in response to their employees needs and concerns. To continue benefiting from the increased productivity within their remote finance teams, employers must ensure that staff have effective, fully equipped workstations in their homes, that healthy work/life balance is encouraged and that opportunities for socialising and collaboration are enabled, virtually or otherwise. Considering that mid-level finance professionals have adapted to remote working with the most success, it would perhaps be wise for employers to consult these individuals and learn from their triumphs.