Adapting to accounting at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic meant embracing new norms for the accounting industry as a whole.
It was a Friday afternoon in March when the RBT team was instructed to pack up within a few hours and prepare for a remote work from home shift. By the following Monday morning we had entered into uncharted territories. Many of the challenges our team experienced likely echo adjustments every industry felt. Creating “work” spaces at kitchen tables, falling into new routines, communicating with team members who we were used to meeting with daily. ZOOM quickly became an essential tool, as we were able to seamlessly connect with many clients and reclaim some of the energy we had lost with in person interaction. However, not every client has access to technology equipped with a camera, so limitations were established right off the bat in our new remote settings. How could our team members conduct inventory observations without our newfound favorite ZOOM tool? Additionally, some clients (primarily government agencies) are entirely reliant on physical documentation, so when they shut down and went remote, their lack of digital workflow created additional and unforeseen roadblocks in the auditing process. Some clients had designated staff members head into the office on an as need basis to scan and send documentation to our team. Thankfully for everyone, certain deadlines were pushed back to enable these entities to get all of the necessary paperwork submitted, but it undoubtedly created additional stressors for our clients at an already hectic time.
This has been (and continues to be) a learning process for everyone at RBT.
Thankfully, our IT department was strong enough to help us effortlessly transition to remote work and coordinated safe digital document transfers – but we recognize not every business has the capability or the software necessary to go completely digital. While we always strive to be in the field and look forward to the day when we can safely interact with clients once again, we recognize that many may remain remote indefinitely. As more businesses adopt work from home flexibility, we will adapt to accommodate our clients. We embrace the mentality that even though we’re not physically sitting together, we can still successfully interact and serve clients. We pride ourselves on the personal relationships we’ve developed over the years, and now it’s more important than ever to be proactive about staying in touch.
Our recommendation for clients, is to invest in updated IT capabilities so your business can be completely paperless in the event of new unforeseeable circumstances.
In order for future remote audits to be successful, safe paperless programs are key. Beyond convenience, it can mean a big cost savings for you down the road. Investing in modern technology now that can result in remote zooms for inventory counts could result in major cost savings for clients – cutting down on audit team travel costs among other preventable expenses. Overall, our team views the open door into remote auditing as a positive for our clients and us, too.