If you read any of the trade publications and blogs covering the tax and accounting profession, you will find that one of the most frequent topics that comes up is the talent shortage facing firms. The demand for accountants is greater than the supply, and many firms are struggling to find the right people to fill their positions and fit with their culture. One way to solve the problem is to hire remote employees.
At Lance CPA Group, we are a virtual firm where all employees are remote. We are based in Chicago, but our employees are located throughout the country. We built our firm this way, in part because we saw an untapped talent base with stay-at-home parents. Our employees were looking to get back into the workforce after starting a family and needed a remote-based role that was flexible to their schedule and conducive to raising their family. Being able to hire this way has allowed us to bring on top talent that was being overlooked by other firms simply because the applicants were unable work traditional hours or go to an office each day.
Your firm can do this, too! Here is what our firm did; you can mix or match any of these strategies.
Create processes and stick to them. In order to set up remote employees for success, it is very important to have well-developed processes in place. Processes are important in any firm, but especially necessary for remote employees. Having a flextime schedule and working from home necessitates a systematic process to follow, as well as accountability for remote employees to complete their work in a timely manner. It is important to identify the key processes needed, document those processes in detail and have your remote employees acknowledge that they will be held accountable for following those processes.
Embrace cloud technologies. In addition to having robust processes in place, you need to have the right technology implemented so your remote employees can accomplish their work. This means embracing cloud technology. Our firm uses Intuit® ProConnect™ Tax Online for our tax software. It can be accessed via a browser, meaning we do not have to own servers or manage our hosted environment to provide the software. This makes it easy for remote employees to access and work on it wherever they are. In addition, I can work on tax returns in real time with our team, which allows us to work more effectively. We also use Jetpack Workflow, a cloud-based workflow management tool that manages the processes and work our remote employees are doing, and allows me to see the status on any of our engagements, any time I want. Jetpack Workflow allows me to keep our remote employees accountable for the work they are assigned to do and the deadlines they need to make. Embracing cloud-based technology has been imperative for us in having a remote workforce.
Hire to fit your firm’s culture. When bringing on remote employees, interviewing the candidates and assessing if they fit the culture of your firm is extremely important; potentially even more important than if you were in a brick and mortar location. Looking at our firm’s culture and brand has steered us to be selective in the employees we hire, taking care to have them interview with all of our employees before making a hiring decision.
Surprisingly, with every hire that we have had at Lance CPA Group, it was a unanimous vote to hire each specific employee; this speaks to the culture we have already created: a tight knit group of accountants and creative types with a passion to serve our clients well. In addition, we bring our employees together in person for a retreat twice a year where we work on the business, but also make sure to include a lot of team building activities. Since we do not get to see each other in person on a regular basis, it is important for us to get together in order to continue to build the culture we want.
Hiring remote employees can help solve the staffing issues tax and accounting firms are facing, and be a way to bring in top talent to help your firm grow and succeed. By building out robust processes, implementing the proper technology and having a culture that welcomes remote employees, your accounting firm can hire the right employees to fill your staffing shortages.