Why are more accountants choosing to be back in offices? What are some of the larger accounting firms doing? And what structure is right for you?
Here are some of the latest statistics and case studies that look into this topic.
Do accountants want to return to the office?
A recent survey on remote work revealed that leaders in the accounting industry are more likely to expect employees to return to the office compared to those in other industries.
Over half (53%) expect their teams to return to the office full-time compared to only 42.7% for all respondents. As a result, less expect a hybrid or full-time working from home structure.
Even when you look at accountants in general, only 46% are interested in working from home compared to 62% for all respondents.
Of course, these statistics do vary drastically depending on what surveys you’re looking at.
In a survey done by BDO, the leading firm found that a whopping 79% of their staff wanted a hybrid model to stay in place.
When you look at surveys done by smaller firms, it seems the majority of their employees are enjoying the freedom to work from home as well.
For example, a survey by Friedman found that only 10% of their employees never wanted to return to an office with the remainder interested in a hybrid model.
In another survey of 1,400 employees at EisnerAmper, they found that only 3.8% of employees wanted to return to the office full-time.
Why do leaders in accounting want to return to the office?
The initial remote work survey mentioned found that accounting leaders had two main reasons for wanting to maintain a physical office.
About 68% cited that engaging with clients was a key motivator, whereas this percentage was only 51% when looking at all respondents.
Interestingly, 63% of accounting leaders cited employee performance or productivity as one of their main reasons compared to only 55% for all respondents.
A massive 70% believe that remote work hasn’t led to increased productivity. We’ll be discussing this topic more in our upcoming accounting webinar and sharing how accountants can actually increase profits and productivity with flexible work.
Other reasons such as team-building or collaboration, and maintaining or building culture were more popular amongst other respondents compared to those in the accounting industry.
The world’s largest firms are going hybrid
After an overwhelming response from employees, BDO decided to introduce a policy that allows employees to work wherever they find themselves most productive.
Though other large firms haven’t been as open to the idea, we are seeing Big Four firms such as Deloitte and KPMG announce that employees will only be expected to be in the office some days out of the week.
PKF O’Connor Davies is offering a remote work policy that allows employees to choose their own days for working in the office and working from home.
Firms like Friedman and EisnerAmper are keeping hybrid models in place, however, are introducing strategies to encourage employees to come into the office more often.
They attribute this to wanting employees to have more opportunities for development and more opportunities to feel accomplished.
What are some of the challenges with hybrid working?
Accounting firms wouldn’t be moving to hybrid work if there weren’t a tonne of benefits. In saying that, there will be some challenges that come with the transition.
Not having everyone in the office every day means that some changes will need to be made if firms want to keep morale high.
Communication and coordination needs to be at the forefront to ensure employees feel supported.
Though a lack of productivity is often seen as an issue, on the other end of the spectrum, an increase in the length of working days is being seen as well.
In a similar way, working from home can lead to a lack of work-life balance, especially for parents with children at home as well.
The challenges don’t end there either. Different people and firms will all find unique challenges that they’ll have to overcome.
Fortunately, it seems as though being able to maintain a hybrid model is worthwhile for the majority of those in the accounting industry, particularly employees.
Should all accounting firms be moving to a hybrid model?
Of course, there’s no one size fits all answer for this question. However, it does seem like some form of a hybrid model is becoming the future for most accounting firms.
A hybrid model allows firms to give their employees freedom and flexibility while still reaping the benefits of a physical office.
With the right tools, pricing strategies and cultures in place, accounting firms can actually see an increase in efficiency and profit margins, even with a hybrid or fully-remote model.