Hybrid Workforce in Accounting Firms: How to Make it Work?
Going hybrid is an appealing choice for accounting firms that can’t go all-in with remote working, but there can be challenges in its implementation. Here are some tips on how to make the hybrid workforce model work.
“Work isn’t something our people come to the office for, it’s something they do,” Spotify stated in support of their Work from Anywhere (WFA) program. This popular audio streaming service — along with other digital-based companies like HubSpot, Shopify, and Slack — are already making their moves towards workplace transformation. Everything’s good as long as employees get their work done no matter where they prefer to work, be it in an office or at home.
While these companies welcome this hybrid model with arms wide open, some companies still see it as a “messy journey” due to its unintended consequences.
Despite this, many experts still view the hybrid workforce model as the future of work. Because of the sudden turn of events brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, both companies and employees have seen that remote working is possible.
However, embracing a full-remote work arrangement isn’t practical for all companies — the reason why many are looking at the hybrid workforce as an alternative.
What is a hybrid workforce?
A hybrid workforce is a working model that allows employees to work at the office and a remote place. The setup depends on the agreement between employers and employees, the nature of work, position, and industry among others.
For example, employees can work half of their time at the office and the other half working from home.
Where does it get complicated?
The challenges associated with the hybrid arrangement vary from business to business. But among the frequently mentioned reasons revolves around proper scheduling, employees’ location from the office, equal opportunities for career advancements, and sub-par client experience.
A hybrid workforce model, for instance, limits employees’ ability to relocate wherever they want. If they are to report to the office, they would still need to live somewhere near it. There may also have recruitment roadblocks. Rather than extending the recruitment to other geographical regions, companies may still need to hire people who can readily travel to the office, unlike the remote work setting.
So how should firms resolve such concerns without running the risks of losing top talents?
Here’s how to make the hybrid workforce model work
Here are some considerations and practices to keep in mind to make the hybrid workforce model work:
Review the employees’ roles and responsibilities
Not all employees need to be regularly present at the office. When starting a hybrid work setting, make sure to determine first who among your employees should report to the office and how often. Doing so can help you in creating a schedule that works best for your team.
Some employees prefer to work at the office while others are more comfortable working from home. Some of them require regular collaboration while others can carry out their work with minimal supervision.
To make sure everyone’s on the same page, conduct a survey or interview among your employees about their preferences. Always keep your employees’ experience in mind, just as how you would with your clients.
Set proper guidelines and policies
What does a hybrid work exactly mean to your firm? Does it follow a remote-first, occasional-office, or office-preferred model?
Remote-first is similar to a fully remote company, but employees requiring physical presence may need to go to the office at times. Occasional-office requires staff to go to the office a few times a week. Office-preferred, meanwhile, is closer to the traditional work arrangement wherein the office is considered as the primary workplace.
Once you’re aware of the model you’re using, set guidelines and policies for its proper implementation. Should your employees go to the office only when there are important in-person meetings? When should they be physically present? Can they work from home or on-site whenever they want? Do they need the approval of a supervisor before working remotely or coming to work?
Having guidelines regarding these concerns will create clarity, which is a vital element for the effective implementation of the hybrid workforce model.
Establish a scheduling system
Another key factor in preventing confusion is by having a good scheduling system. There are available tools online to help you with this, but the most important reminder is to always schedule in advance.
For instance, informal, unplanned meetings may not be as welcomed as it is in the traditional setup. Have your teams understand its importance and make sure to include this on your policies.
In a hybrid work environment, equality can be an issue. Employees working remotely most of the time may be overlooked for promotions or training opportunities. Those who are working on-site, meanwhile, may point out that it’s unfair to them that their colleagues can work at home.
Your workplace policies must present equal opportunities to all employees, regardless of where they work. Showing that you’re in favor of employees on-site may create a rift between your employees, if not drive higher employee attrition.
Ensure that your policies are fair and establish clear expectations from everyone.
Embracing the future now
The future of the workplace is a hybrid — one that allows greater flexibility to employees but encourages them to be more productive and engaged.
But rather than waiting for the future to come before considering this workplace arrangement, it would be better to start planning for it now than cram your way out when everyone’s already doing it. Remember, successful businesses are always two steps ahead of their competitors.
And if you need help in bringing in more accountants to your accounting firm, regardless of where they work, get in touch with us. We will connect you with our experienced professionals so you can deliver better accounting services to your clients. You can also download our whitepaper, Finding the Right Talents: D&V Philippines’ Solutions to Modern Accounting Firms, to learn more about our bespoke F&A solutions.