As we recover from the pandemic and some companies make the move towards establishing remote work on a permanent basis, candidates will likely see a lot more opportunities for teleworking roles. While it may not be an ideal fit for everyone, remote jobs provide greater flexibility, less constraints around location, and a more technology dependent working environment.
In order to assess whether the remote role you’re applying for is well supported by the organization that’s offering it, consider asking these 3 questions at the interview:
1. Can you describe your company’s remote culture? Some companies might have an established remote workforce while others might be new to this. Because remote employees can feel disconnected, it’s important for organizations to bring everyone together, encourage frequent collaboration, and have a check-in system in place. Get a sense of how frequently the teams communicate and by what method, whether there are any virtual team events in place, or what their policies are for creating an inclusive culture that address the challenges of distance work.
2. What technologies do you have in place to support remote work? There are many different technologies on the market that allow for collaboration and communication between team members, such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Slack. You want to ensure that the company will provide such resources so you can get to know everyone at the company and have an established method of communication with your team. It is also key to determine how easily you’ll be able to share and access files. Is the company working from a cloud environment? What type of IT support will be provided? Make sure that you are comfortable or open to learning their tech stack.
3. How do you track productivity of remote employees? Productivity tracking is done differently across organizations and even teams within one company. Some roles require closer monitoring than others. Companies can track work by using technologies such as ActivTrak or opt for an honour system. It’s important to find out what the process and expectations are around the role you’re applying for. Are you expected to work during certain hours or is there room for flexibility? Does this job have frequent deadlines and a defined reporting structure? Get as much clarity on expectations as you can.
When you interview for a remote role, ask the right questions to gauge your fit. Companies that have a well-thought-out remote work support system in place will add to your and their success.
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:
Real-Time Access To Accounts: Cloud-based accounting software such as Quickbooks, Freshbooks, WaveandXero 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.
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.
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