The Do’s and Don’ts of Remote Leadership

Currently almost 40% of Canadian employees are working remotely due the COVID19 outbreak. If given a choice, 80% of employees would prefer to continue working from home at least some days of the week, according to Global Workplace Analytics. Employees consider remote work as their ideal work scenario because it leads to greater work-life balance and increases productivity levels. But managing a remote team is not always easy. Managers struggle with feeling of decreased control over their team, monitoring challenges, and problem solving.

Here are some tips to help leaders become better remote workforce managers:

Do

1. Communicate Frequently: Keep your team engaged and connected on a daily basis. Utilizing communication channels and collaboration software is a great way to build and retain engagement. Schedule regular check-ins via video meetings to ensure inclusivity and provide opportunities for employees to raise any issues. Make sure to develop and communicate appropriate work-from home guidelines that define expectations. Just as you would at the office, encourage collaboration on projects and regular feedback.

2. Be Flexible: Regular work hours might be difficult to impose especially under the current circumstances where many kids are at home with their parents. Recognize that this is an un-ordinarily challenging time for many of your employees and being rigid will do more harm than good. Trust your team and provide them with flexibility to work on a schedule that helps them be the most productive. If productivity becomes an issue, especially with an employee that has always been outstanding at their work, learn what is causing this decrease, and work together to develop a solution to get back on track.

3. Set Your Team Up for Success: Remote team collaboration is highly dependent on reliable technology. Ensure that your team has access to appropriate resources and equipment to help them get their work done effectively and to work well together. Also provide your team with sufficient IT support should something go wrong. Remind your team to take breaks and take good care of themselves, physically and mentally. Develop strategies to keep motivation up such as rewards or positive feedback.


Don’t

1. Avoid Video Calls: Digital tools have made remote communication convenient, but that does not guarantee effectiveness. Face-to-face interactions are extremely important to understand non-verbal cues and develop reactions based on what you see, rather than what you read or hear. In addition to emails and texts, managers should incorporate adequate face-to-face communication in their daily routine.

2. Focus On Control: Sometimes managers tend to focus too much on controlling scenarios and how work is performed. This creates a hostile environment for employees, who may already be feeling the pressure of a new way of working. Trust your team and focus on the outcomes, not processes.

3. Lose Company Culture & Connectivity: Remember staying well into the evening, eating pizza with your colleagues, working on that milestone project? Or popping your head into your co-worker’s office to bounce some ideas off of them? This is part of what builds a strong corporate culture and binds people together. Try to translate traditional office activities into your new virtual setting. Organize in-person team gatherings at least once a month, bringing everyone together to reconnect in person.

Will a four-day work week become the new normal of employment?

In 2018, nearly 70 per cent of Canadians said they would prefer a compressed four-day work week, rather than a five-day work week, according to an Angus Reid poll. Not much has changed since then. Many leaders, in fact, are now weighing the opportunity of utilizing a compressed work structure to rebuild the current economy.

We surveyed our LinkedIn audience about the benefits of a four-day work week, and the results were not surprising. 54 per cent of the respondents claimed that it would bring in greater work-life balance, while 34 percent suggested that it would increase productivity.

So here’s the big question: are businesses and government organizations equipped to embrace a four-day work week? This idea is compelling and feasible but it requires thorough evaluation and strategic execution.

1. Who Would Benefit? Companies should consider which demographic of people would benefit the most from a compressed work week. Some believe that a 4-day work week would best suit people who are in their 50’s and 60’s. This economically influential generation can make use of an extra day off by attending to tasks that are being put off such as doctor’s appointments, spending time with loved ones or pursuing a new passion. On the other hand, millennials and gen Z’s are more focused on shaping work priorities in ways that fit their daily lives, which includes remote work or a compressed work week.

2. Establishing A Trial Period: A four-day work structure is highly dependent on business and employee needs. Employees are drawn towards companies that offer flexibility and with a four-day work week concept, companies can become more desirable to job seekers. Perhaps doing a trial run for a couple of months and monitoring productivity and employee satisfaction is a good beginning point. In 2018, New Zealand’s Perpetual Guardian, a trust management company, tested this compressed work structure for 2 months with 240 team members. Productivity levels increased by 20 per cent and employee stress levels reduced by 7 per cent. Similarly, in August 2019, Microsoft Japan experimented this concept with it’s Work-Life Choice Challenge Summer Program, giving 2,300 employees five Fridays off without a pay decrease and a 40 per cent increase in productivity.

3. Assessing Business Operations: To evaluate whether a 4-day work concept is suitable for a company, leadership teams need to start by understanding their work culture and make decisions around the seasonality of their business. For instance, in California, an employee is entitled to over-time pay after eight hours of work a day. This means a non-exempt employee on a four-day work week would be receiving eight hours of overtime pay every week, if companies move to a 4 day, 40 work hours scenario.

4. Stakeholder Evaluation: Businesses should examine the impact of a four-day work week structure on its stakeholders on both sides of the value chain. Will companies lose valuable business by not being available five days of the week? If your clients/vendors operate on a traditional work schedule, but your team is working a compressed week, how is this going to impact coordination and ultimately productivity? Be prepared for the challenges associated with a compressed work week and plan accordingly to mitigate any issues.


A three-day weekend sounds great, but it may not be suitable for everyone and every business. There are certainly pros and cons to doing this. Will it become a new normal of employment? Perhaps. But it will likely happen in stages and require a widespread change in attitude.

Remote Onboarding: How to Better Integrate New Hires

When we bring on a new employee, we go the extra mile to make them feel welcomed. We like to leave a special note on their desk with a motivational message. There are lots of introductions and friendly handshakes. Maybe a special lunch event organized. But alas, not anymore. Remote onboarding has proven to be a totally different experience.

While it’s hard to recreate the enthusiasm that you get from a physical in-person introduction to a group of people in an office, making new employees feel appreciated and welcomed should not be deprioritized during this time. Companies can simply make some adaptations to their regular on-boarding routines and make use of technology in order to continue to make a great impression on new hires.

For this article, we spoke with Mark Nishikawa of HIRE Technologies and Lindsay Carson of ProVision Staffing, both of whom had to be introduced into our work family remotely. They shared tips and experiences to help us craft a guide for a more successful onboarding of remote workers:

Digitize on-boarding documents

On-boarding employees usually involves a lot of paperwork, from signing deposit and tax forms to integrating the new hire into a company-wide benefits plan. Digitizing these documents can translate into meaningful time and cost savings for the employer and employee. HR software such as BambooHR, WorkBright, ClearCompany, Zenefits & ProProfs Knowledge Base automate the on-boarding process. For example, ProProfs Knowledge Base helps managers create a virtual employee handbook to familiarize new hires with company policies, vision, mission etc. “Digitizing the onboarding process frees managers from manual paperwork and allows them to shift their focus on optimizing new hire engagement,” Mark suggested.

Setting up a work-from-home station

Cloud-based technologies make it easy for new employees to hit the ground running even from home. Offer assistance in setting those up and make sure to assign appropriate user permissions to avoid frustrations. “It’s helpful to get an overview of what applications and tools are required for the job and to have the login credentials noted in one place,” Lindsay suggested. Be sure to also ship any required hardware (such as laptops) in advance of the start date, preferably all set up and ready to go.

Communication is key

Good, widespread communication is always important but especially so when everyone is working remotely. Announce the addition of a new employee with a company-wide email briefly outlining their role. Include a short profile with their interests and hobbies to help start conversations among the team. “It helps to feel welcome when your manager reaches out consistently and tries to answer your questions,” Lindsay pointed out.

Use Video Conferencing

Face-to-face interactions through video calls are vital to the success of remote onboarding. “A group call to introduce the members of the company is helpful because you can put a face to a name,” Mark mentioned. Organize regular group video calls, even if brief, for the benefit of helping the new employee interact with their coworkers, rebuild office banter, and help keep your company culture alive.

One-on-one meetings

Don’t forget that new employees need a little bit more attention. You want them to last, you want them to be engaged, and you want them to succeed, after all. In an office it is easy to see when someone is struggling or finding something to be a challenge. But remotely not so much. One-on-one virtual meetings or calls between the new employee and their manager are a good way to provide support, identify struggle points, and nurture a professional relationship.

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.

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.

Finance Professionals Working from Home: 6 Tips for Success

Working from home has suddenly become the new normal for all of us in Ontario.  While for some industries remote work was already common practice, for most accounting and finance professionals this might take some getting used to.  Staying motivated, disciplined, and engaged could be a challenge at first but with the right tactics you can make it work and keep your department running smoothly.

1. Act like you’re going to the office

Get up at the same time you usually do for work, even put on your office clothes, and go about your usual routine. Use your commute time to complete some household tasks instead and then “head to work”. The key to staying motivated is to imitate your office life as much as you can.

2. Pick a dedicated workspace

Rather than moving about the house carrying your laptop from room to room, pick a dedicated workspace and stick to it. Let everybody in the house know that there are boundaries and it’s a limited distraction space for you.

3. Define clear work hours and stick to it

Just like you would head in and out of the office at defined times, practice the same discipline at home. Try to start and complete your workday at the same time as you would if you were to go to the office. It is normal to feel guilty for halting work when you’ve been home all day but if you don’t you will burn out.

4. Take breaks

Just as you would at the office, take a coffee break, walk around and take a moment to clear your head.  Use online platforms and create different chatrooms with your colleagues for different purposes. You can create a room for small talk between your colleagues and another for project collaborations. slack.com is a great tool for anyone in any field or industry to use. It promotes collaborations and teamwork.

5. Leverage technology

Working from home has never been easier with all the available technologies. There are multiple platforms that support working offsite. These are just a few great suggestions for finance and accounting professionals that you can tap into:

FreshBooks – FreshBooks is a complete suite so you can perform all financial operations from a single dashboard.

QuickBooks Enterprise – This is a fantastic tool that can be used in almost all industries in need of accounting and financial operations and can manage numerous users from everywhere all at once.

Sage 50cloud – This tool is a combination of your desktop accounting tools and cloud computing which allows you to take advantage of its 50 features to keep track and manage your financial operations.

Xero – Xero is a very easy to learn and use, cloud-based accounting software preferred by many small businesses. It doesn’t require a lot of training so if you have all the data available, you’re ready to switch and go.

Zoom – Zoom is a great video conferencing platform that is free to use. You can schedule meetings and join by clicking the meeting links in which all participants can share their video and computer screens. The host can even record the meeting in case you need to go back to it.

6. Stay in contact with your team

Stay in touch with everyone you work with.  Regular outreach will help others stay motivated and allow the workflow and exchange of ideas to continue.  Set tasks and deadlines so that everyone remains accountable.  Get creative by scheduling a virtual lunch date with your coworkers.

As you find yourself with more free time at home during COVID-19 imposed isolation, take this opportunity to reflect and advance your career.