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Survey: Firms Expect Remote Work to Grow

The overwhelming number of accounting firms participating in a recent ConvergenceCoaching survey expect remote work will increase even after the COVID-19 pandemic ends. The 2020 ConvergenceCoaching AnyTime, Anywhere Work survey found that 81 percent of the 223 firms responding expect such an increase.

The number of remote audits are also expected to grow significantly with 52 percent of respondents reporting they are approaching clients about conducting remote audit on an ongoing basis.

The findings are in line with other surveys in reporting a likely increase in remote work and also  the decision by a significant number of firms to decrease their office space. Thirty percent of firms say they will likely reduce the size of their office footprint

A majority of firms also reported the shift to remote work went smoothly with 61 percent saying the change was seamless, while 27 percent says the experience was abrupt with gaps and issues. Only four percent were already completely remote-work based and another 7 percent kept most employees on premise because their infrastructure did not support remote work.

In terms of remote work in the future, 49 percent see an increase and 32 percent believe there will be a significant increase in that area.

“We're concerned about the 16 percent  of respondents who expected a ‘return to normal” after the pandemic, as well as the 3 percent who expected a decrease in remote work,” the survey’s authors wrote.  “Remote and flexible work programs have become a norm in our profession, and the decision to ‘sit on the sidelines’ or avoid offering these programs can reduce your attractiveness to talent and put your firm's long-term viability at risk.” 

However, administrative and operations employees remained largely in the office. Only 17 percent of respondents permitted such employees to work remotely while 50 percent permitted only select members of the group work out of the office. Thirty-three percent of firms did not allow any of their administrative and operations personnel to work remotely.

The authors wrote, “It is assumed that this is because firms have not yet achieved a level of paperless operations to support remote admin, and/or that some administrative personnel are not yet trained or able to use certain technology to execute their duties remotely.”

Bob Scott
Bob Scott has provided information to the tax and accounting community since 1991, first as technology editor of Accounting Today, and from 1997 through 2009 as editor of its sister publication, Accounting Technology. He is known throughout the industry for his depth of knowledge and for his high journalistic standards.  Scott has made frequent appearances as a speaker, moderator and panelist and events serving tax and accounting professionals. He  has a strong background in computer journalism as an editor with two former trade publications, Computer+Software News and MIS Week and spent several years with weekly and daily newspapers in Morris County New Jersey prior to that.  A graduate of Indiana University with a degree in journalism, Bob is a native of Madison, Ind
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