The Pros and Cons of Virtual Accounting Teams

Remote work is reshaping the future of employment, inclusive of finance roles. According to LinkedIn’s Workplace Confidence Index, 83 percent of Finance professionals claim that they can be individually effective when working remotely while 82 percent felt the entire industry could be remotely effective. Which is not surprising considering that many finance tasks do not require frequent interaction between people. Are virtual accounting teams then the way of the future? Maybe so. Companies shouldn’t dismiss the idea.

We put together a list of pros and cons for employing a virtual finance and accounting team, to help get the conversation started:

PROS

Real-Time Access To Accounts: Cloud-based accounting software such as Quickbooks, Freshbooks, Wave and Xero and file hosting platforms such as Google Drive and Dropbox have enabled accounting teams to work remotely and share financial data easily. Leadership teams can access up-to date financial reports in a timely manner and can be sure to achieve higher data accuracy because of the multiple eyes on the books. Real-time access to accounts also allows for data-driven decision making.

Flexible Hiring: Virtual accounting professionals can be more easily hired on an as needed basis and are unrestricted by geography thus expanding your talent pool. Since accounting and bookkeeping needs can vary from one financial period to another, companies can hire contract/temporary accounting professionals to work on specific projects for a certain number of hours without the hassle of setting them up in a physical setting.

Cost Savings: With virtual accounting teams, companies can benefit from reduced overhead costs, like paying for extra office space and supplies to accommodate additional hires, especially ones that come on board for a temporary period to help with project needs.  There is also potential to save costs on computers if you allow your remote team to use personal devices.  

CONS

Limited Control: Managers could feel that a certain degree of control has been lost with virtual teams. Therefore, it is important to maintain consistent communication and conduct regular check-ins to keep a tab on the company’s finances.

Poor Coordination: If your accounting team requires on-site collaboration with other departments or needs access to in-house systems to carry out specific functions, going virtual might result in poor coordination and hinder productivity.

Data Security Threats: As company’s leverage cloud-based technologies for remote data access, it becomes easier for hackers to misuse sensitive financial information. Safeguarding financial information beyond the bounds of a company’s internal network is crucial. Virtual accounting teams should consider implementing multi-factor authentication to ensure that confidential information is not being compromised at any cost.

Benefits of Hiring Remote Workers

Remote work life has become the ‘new normal’ for most of us. Staff Accounting, Bookkeeper, Accounting Clerk and Coordinator are some of the fastest growing Finance & Accounting job categories in the work from home landscape. Cloud-based technologies and collaborative platforms have enabled smooth remote work transition for companies and have allowed employees to experience the power of utilizing data in the cloud.

Here are some benefits of hiring remote workers:

1. Reduces Business Costs
Hiring remote workers can result in significant business savings -office expenses, including infrastructure, utilities and supplies. Additionally, not all employees that work around the 9-5 clock are productive, resulting in more time wasted. With remote workers, hours billed = hours worked.

2. Increases Productivity
When companies offer the flexibility of remote work, employee satisfaction and productivity increases. 77% of remote employees say they are more productive when working from home (HubSpot, 2020). Employee monitoring software such as Teramind, VeriClock, ActivTrak, TimeDoctor are valuable productivity tracking tools that can help employers validate hours billed to hours worked.

3. Access To Deeper Talent Pool
Unrestricted by geography, hiring remote workers expands your talent pool and increases your chances of acquiring top talent. Your company now has the flexibility to staff based on business priorities and can hire specialized workforce for specific remote projects. Since 2015, the number of employees working remotely has grown by 44 percent (Wong, 2020).

4. Reduced Employee Turnover
Companies that hire remote workers also benefit from reduced employee turnover. 90% of employees claim that flexible work arrangements and schedules have increased their morale (Flexjobs, 2020). Employees enjoy the boost to their work-life balance that comes from a remote position and tend to stay at their jobs for a longer period of time.

The world might never be the same again as this remote working mandate takes over our traditional 9-5 regime. Remote work benefits employees and does wonders for businesses as well. At PTC we connect you with F&A, Administrative and Human Resources professionals who can work remotely.

5 Tips for Successful Business Continuity During COVID19

By our sister company, ProVision Staffing

Even under these unprecedented circumstances, some businesses are continuing to operate smoothly. What’s their secret? They acknowledge the challenges and also focus on the opportunities to make their company more resilient.

We offer 5 important strategies for businesses on a mission to stay alive, stay relevant, and come out of this pandemic less harmed:

1. Invest in remote work setups – Since 2010, the amount of people that work remotely once a week has grown by 400%. (Hubspot Research) Prior to the global pandemic, only 41% of global businesses offered remote work flexibility (flexjobs.com). Now is the time to increase your company’s investments in videoconferencing tools and collaboration software, many of which do not require a huge budget.

2. Consider contract employment – Contract employment gives businesses the freedom to “hire talent on-demand”. The flexibility and scalability of contract staffing allows businesses to achieve their long-term and short-term growth targets, which makes this staffing solution ideal for challenging economic times.

3. Keep communicating with & supporting your employees – It becomes extremely crucial to calm and reassure your workforce during such uncertain times. Employers must encourage upskilling, boost morale with special incentives and schedule regular video calls etc to maintain your teams momentum.

4. Plan for the future – Use this decrease in pace to re-evaluate and identify new business opportunities. Start building new connections, growing your social media presence and developing a strong comprehensive plan for COVID19 recovery.

5. Support your client base – Show your clients that you are here for them, and that you care about them. Avoid pushing for sales and take the time to listen to their concerns. Strengthen existing relationships by providing solutions that will appeal to them and that are relevant under existing circumstances. It is important to be recognize and plan that your customers’ requirements might change post COVID19.

It’s important for businesses to be adaptable and open to change. Post COVID-19 the world will likely be a different place, at least for the next little while, and businesses that are set up to adapt to the “new normal” will have the competitive advantage.

Contract Staffing To Support Your Business

PTC has been in the recruitment business for 3 decades and has witnessed multiple economic ups and downs, from the global financial crisis to the current COVID-19 pandemic. As we navigate this unprecedented landscape and its impact on the economy, we continue to support companies by providing temporary and contract staffing solutions. 

Businesses can benefit from contract staffing in a number of ways, especially in such challenging periods:

Cost-Effective Solution 

In order to remain competitive, to reduce overhead costs and to manage cash flows in such uncertain times, hiring temporary employees proves to be a cost-effective solution. Temporary employees work on specific projects for certain number of hours. If your business is seeking short-term support or requires additional help to manage workload due to unexpected external variables, hiring contract workers is ideal. 

Specialized Workforce 

Temporary and contract workers are equipped with specialized skill sets and hone a wide range of industry knowledge and experience. As a result, they are well-armed to fill skill gaps within an organization, allowing for businesses to continue with smooth operations.

Shorter Hiring Process

Businesses turn to contract workforce solutions because they benefit from a shorter hiring process. Contractors are experienced with time-sensitive projects and are often available to start immediately, once hired. 

Contract To Hire 

Hiring contractors is a great way for companies to test the waters and assess cultural fit. Companies get to work with contractors for a definitive period of time, allowing them to evaluate their skills and performance without having the pressure to commit to permanent employment.

Increase Talent Pool

Given this economic climate, many experienced candidates find themselves either unemployed or underemployed. Companies should use this opportunity to conduct a thorough ‘candidate market’ assessment and expand their talent pool to meet future workforce demand once the crisis settles. 

As we face the long-reaching implications of COVID-19 together, our goal is to support and champion your staffing needs at all times.

The Key to Differentiation: Your Employees!

For many companies, finding points of differentiation is a struggle as they compete in a generally oversaturated landscape of similar businesses. Your service offering alone will not get you very far nor will a fancy new, avant-garde website. So how can you crush your competition and be the first-choice company for your customers? Start from within: recognize that your employees and those you hire are key to setting your company apart.   

Think of employees as your brand ambassadors. The more they believe in your mission and the more passionate they are about it, the better they will pitch it and provide more effective customer outreach. Let’s not forget that 93% of customers are more likely to make repeat purchases with companies who offer excellent customer service. (Hubspot Research)

Below we share 3 tips to empowering your employees and turning them into exceptional brand ambassadors:   

Communicate and keep communicating: Maintain open lines of communication at all times.  Inclusive communication and feedback build understanding and respect within the workplace while keeping everyone engaged. Employees also need to have the right information to be able to share your brand’s story and deliver a consistent message. 

Recognize and Acknowledge: Boost employee morale, regularly with positive, upbeat messages and company events.  Embrace a culture of self-improvement by supporting professional development initiatives and reward accomplishments with special gestures. Celebrate successes and share losses together as this binds employees and creates a greater sense of belonging. 

Encourage Brand Stewardship – Create opportunities for employees to promote your brand through social media and allow them to be the voice (make sure it’s a positive voice!). Motivate employees to share your story through videos or podcasts, and encourage them to share authentic content that is relevant to your brand.

Treat ALL employees like partners and hire with emphasis on cultural fit and personality.  Show your customers that you’re different through their positive interaction with your staff, something that will impress them a lot more than anything else.    

Benefits of Contract Staffing: Hiring in Challenging Times  

The Canadian labour market is shifting and growing, with contract and temporary workers making up half the workforce today. In 2018, temporary workers increased by 50%, outpacing the number of permanent jobs in Canada. This is in part due to different professional outlooks of millennials and GenZs but also a result of a much more flexible world.

How can employers benefit from temporary hires? Contract employment essentially gives businesses the freedom to “hire on-demand”. The flexibility and scalability of contract staffing allows businesses to achieve their long-term and short-term growth targets, which makes this staffing solution ideal for challenging economic times. 

Here are a few reasons why companies are making contract staffing an integral part of their hiring structure:

1. Cost Effectiveness And Lower Business Liability

Contract staffing eliminates payroll, benefits, and administrative expenses. When a company hires a full-time employee, it commits to providing salary, benefits and even accounts for all their expenses. However, with contract workers, you only pay for the hours the employee has worked with no commitment to benefit plans or bonuses. 

2. No-risk Hiring Flexibility 

More and more companies are turning to contract workforce solutions because it shrinks the hiring timeline. A flexible, contract-based workforce can easily meet dynamic business needs without long-term commitment. During crunch periods, employers can move full steam ahead for several months with complete operational support.

3. Immediate Results

Because of the varied experience that contractors gain through shorter term work commitments, their skillset is more diverse and often more easily adaptable.  Companies benefit from hiring a fully vetted candidate, who is ready to hit the ground running from his/her first day. Contract staffing allows employers to combat any skills gap for specialized projects or to meet seasonal demand. 

Don’t let hiring freezes, high employee turnover or complex hiring processes bring your organization to a crawl. Turn to contract workforce solutions and quickly acquire the skills and experience your company needs to meet the growing business challenges.

Recruiting in the Time of Social Distancing

By Elizabeth Connelly, Vice President

The challenging reality of COVID19 in Canada continues to unfold daily, leaving many businesses in a scramble to deal with its effects.  Hiring, as a result, may have slid down your priority list yet it’s important to keep your grasp on top finance and accounting talent, particularly in preparation for a different economic landscape to come.  But how should you proceed with recruiting in a new time of social distancing and isolation?  Here are some tips to keep you engaged with top talent and continue to build a strong relationship without in-person meetings:

Keep the Line of Communication Strong

While we remain in isolation mode and shift gears to crisis management, it shouldn’t mean that communication with candidates of choice must cease.  Video conferencing, text messaging, email – these are all very obvious ways that you can use technology to stay in touch and get to know them further without having to meet in person.  Think of this as an opportunity to nurture that relationship and take it to the next level, beating your competition to the finish line when everything goes back to normal. 

Impress Through Marketing

Instead of inviting the candidate to your office to meet with the team, woo them by sending a customized, well-designed package, either digitally or by snail mail, that contains information about your company’s achievements, industry highlights, and company culture.  Include statistics, team bios, and even positive testimonials from other employees.  Show your company’s personality through branded graphics and office photos.  Candidates will appreciate the effort and it will help to sway their decision in your favour.  

Develop a Revised On-boarding Plan

Hiring during this time may require on-boarding the candidate while your office remains closed and everyone continues to work from home.  Adjust your company’s plans accordingly so that anyone joining your team will feel welcomed and appropriately supported despite not having too much face-to-face time.  Set up a group video call giving everyone an opportunity to introduce themselves, provide necessary training remotely, and adjust your expectations for roles that do not normally accommodate working from home, as the learning curve might be a bit steeper.  

Supporting each other is essential to navigating through the current, COVID19-imposed hiring challenges.  For companies this means adjusting their expectations and for candidates it means being flexible and patient.