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September 27, 2023

Accounting Firms Are Being Uncharacteristically Modern About This Whole Remote Work Thing

woman working at home with her dog

Are we ready for another survey? OH BOY.

Thomson Reuters has written up the 2022 ConvergenceCoaching, LLC® Anytime, Anywhere Work™ (ATAWW) Survey — you can request survey results here — and we learn that almost all responding firms say they are being flexible about where and when their people put in their time.

Of the 216 accounting firms that participated in the 2022 ATAWW Survey, 97% allowed their talent to choose where they work, while 94% offer flexibility in when people are working. The report notes that with more firms leaning into outsourcing, offshoring, and fractional staffing resources, it is increasingly important to learn to work asynchronously across multiple time zones. The survey also shows that surveyed firms are leveraging gig-based workers (30%), domestic outsourcing teams (30%), and overseas offshoring providers (35%).

With an increasingly tight talent pipeline, the report illustrates that leaders need to get innovative on staffing their teams. In fact, the 2022 ATAWW Survey found that “81% [of survey respondents] hired at least one remote team member they had not employed before,” which essentially means that firms are hiring new staff in their remote geography. It’s remarkable to note that this result was up from 38% in 2020.

A few bullets from the survey, including a familiar one that was just explained in the paragraph before this:

  • 95% offer remote auditing, and the percentage who performed more than half their audits away from the client site soared to 54%
  • 83% of firms allow Admin and Operations to work remote or blended
  • 81% who employ remote talent hired a “stranger” outside their geography (up from 38% in 2020)
  • 73% don’t dictate when extra hours are worked (no more mandatory Saturdays)
  • 19% offer Unlimited PTO
  • 12% close the office between Christmas and New years

No more mandatory Saturdays? We’re gonna need some confirmation on that. We’re also going to need confirmation on the 47% of survey respondents that say they close their offices on Fridays when things are slow; 1% of the firms surveyed say they give Fridays off year-round. We’re gonna need their names and HR contacts, thanks.

2022 ConvergenceCoaching® Anytime, Anywhere Work™ (ATAWW) Survey [ConvergenceCoaching]

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1 Comment

  1. Friends at Going Concern- let me assure you as a retired COO of a large local accounting firm, and long-time member and past Chair of CPA Firm Management Association, that accounting firms are indeed closing early on Fridays between late April and November! And on some holiday weekends, closing on Friday entirely.

    Although 55- to 60-hr work weeks are sometimes the norm throughout busy season, it doesn’t matter if you work the extra hours on Tuesday night at home or very Sunday morning at the office. With the exception of some admin team member who probably alternate Saturdays, Saturday hours are not mandatory for the vast majority of our CPAFMA member firms.

    Your skepticism of today’s accounting firms’ practices and policies is not based on reality. Long before COVID, large and small accounting firms had the technology to allow their employees to work anywhere, anytime, which made their transition to home during COVID so successful.

    Please don’t share or even infer that our profession is stuck in the 80’s mindset that employees have to be seen in their cubical to be considered “working”. You should leave your office and tour any of the thousands of CPA firms in the United States and Canada where flexibility is key. You may see only a handful of hard-working and efficient employees in their offices! But the others may be available on Teams or Zoom or any of the myriad of other platforms, connected to their office. And on a Saturday morning they won’t be connected at all, as likely they’ll be at their kids’ soccer match or dance competition.

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