The pandemic has made remote work the norm for many companies. As a result, millions of employees have now been forced to work from home, including many who never had to.
But working remotely can be challenging. For most people, it's a far cry from working in an office setting, with team members always available nearby to help and support you if needed. In fact, a recent study shows that 71% of employers are struggling with productivity and communication while working remotely.
This is especially true for remote accounting employees navigating complex financial data and systems. But with the right strategies and tools, you can exponentially increase productivity and efficiency even remotely.
This article will dissect 5 of the most effective strategies for remote accounting teams, drawing from case studies and expert insights. From automating repetitive tasks to building a solid team culture, we'll explore the best ways to stay on top of your work and keep your accounting team running smoothly.
Communicate candidly and frequently
In a remote working setup, communication is critical. People need to have the correct information to make accurate conclusions. As a team leader, ensure you give instructions and share guidelines as candidly and frequently as possible. Ensure that communication is targeted and tailored to each person where necessary.
Accountants working remotely need all the information they need to stop guessing and focus on being productive. At the very least, employees must have clear guidelines on company regulations, meetings, digital team activities, expected outputs, performance requirements, and so forth.
Studies show that employers prioritizing delivering clear lines of communication are much more likely to build lasting trust among employees. This, in turn, leads to increased productivity and morale, which helps improve your business cash flow.
Here are six tips that can help you improve your communication with your remote team:
- Have clear communication plans. For instance, have a central platform where all official company information is shared.
- Ensure all communication is timely, concise, and targeted. Ensure you share the correct message with the right audience at the right time.
- Encourage people to share their opinions. Lack of face-to-face interaction between teams is a crucial challenge affecting remote working. Ensure that your team can express their views to feel seen and heard.
- Avoid communication gaps and tackle challenges head-on. Ensure all the team members have access to team resources and communication channels. Also, handle issues as they arise to avoid conflict between the team members.
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Give your team greater autonomy
Most remote employees work from home and must balance the demands of work and family simultaneously. Although controversial, remote accounting employees should have control over how, when, and where they work. A recent study shows that about 77% of employees like workplace flexibility and autonomy.
But this doesn't mean they have the free reign to do whatever they want. After all, they still have productivity requirements, project goals, and teammates to consider. Therefore, they still need leadership, guidance, feedback, and connection. But micromanaging and monitoring them electronically signals that you don't trust them.
This can lead to mistrust, disengagement, dissatisfaction, and a general decrease in team performance. However, according to experts, organizations that offer a higher level of autonomy to their employees have a high level of job satisfaction, leading to increased productivity. This is because autonomy gives employees a genuine sense of responsibility for their work's outcome.
As a team leader, you can show that you care about employees' well-being and growth by allowing them their personal autonomy in various facets of their work. Recognizing and encouraging independence communicates trust in their ability to get the job done, which inevitably increases effectiveness and productivity.
In summary, here are the key benefits of granting autonomy to remote accounting employees:
- The team feels more valued and trusted
- They become more engaged and more motivated
- It reduces employee turnover
- It boosts leadership qualities
- Encourages a healthy work/life balance for the employees
Automate repetitive tasks using cloud technology
In the current workplace setting, cloud computing and automation are critical – especially for companies with remote or hybrid working arrangements. For example, remote accounting employees can take advantage of technology to complete repetitive accounting tasks, resulting in higher productivity, which can significantly improve your business and operations' efficiency.
For example, using cloud-based expense management tools can help reduce the time spent tracking and manually reporting all business expenses, so employees can use that time to do other crucial tasks.
Here are some of the key benefits of using cloud technology to automate your repetitive accounting tasks:
- Higher productivity: Research shows employees spend an average of 4.5 hours weekly on repetitive tasks. So automating things like data entry can significantly increase your remote team's productivity and efficiency.
- Fewer errors: Some repetitive accounting tasks are unengaging or exciting for employees, which can easily lead to mistakes. For instance, it can be redundant for an employee to track and analyze credit card costs manually. But automation robots can quickly and efficiently track these costs, reducing boredom and eliminating errors.
- Reduce costs: Automating some tasks increases staff availability and improves workflows, which is excellent efficiency and productivity.
- Improved scalability: Cloud-based automation allows you to control your growth and the associated costs. For example, it will enable you easily scale up or down your needs without worrying about hardware constraints.
Help create a comfortable work-from-home environment
To ensure that your employees are set up for success, you need to know how to support them while working remotely. One of the easiest ways to do that is to help them create a comfortable work-from-home environment.
Ensuring team members have dedicated work-from-home workspaces can significantly affect their feelings about working from home. If remote accountants have their own comfortable workspaces, they will start to feel like they need to do more, thus increasing productivity.
Some employees don’t have enough resources to furnish their home offices properly. Therefore, companies can help support their employees by offering an allowance to furnish their home offices. After all, companies should provide employees with all the necessary infrastructure to perform their duties just as they would while working from an office.
This way, they can ensure that the employees work in a comfortable environment that encourages productivity and efficiency.
Encourage teamwork by investing in remote communication tools and teaching best practices
Without face-to-face interaction, your employees might find it hard to be efficient as a team. It’s not easy for them to collaborate, discuss ideas and brainstorm.
As an accounting team leader, you can encourage teamwork by providing remote communication tools to make it easy for them to get in touch and consult whenever necessary quickly. For instance, encourage them to use a social intranet where team conversations can happen transparently and on a timely basis.
This will allow them to discuss issues quickly, consult other team members, and even keep track of their projects in real-time. This helps reduce the time wasted in meetings so employees can work more efficiently as a team. ‘
Here are tips on how you can use communication tools to encourage teamwork:
- Pick the right tools. Each organization is unique. Ensure you do your research and pick the tools that work best for your team.
- Teach users how to use these tools. To ensure that you get the most out of the tools, invest the time to train the team members on how to use them.
- Establish a unique online workplace culture. For example, create avenues for official and unofficial communication. The unofficial channels can be used to hang out with other team members to chat about fun and exciting issues.
- Recognize the diversity among team members. Educate yourself about the differences between the members (existing racial and religious divides) and create ways to accommodate everyone.
As the work environment continues to change, employers must keep looking for ways to encourage productivity and efficiency. For example, when working with remote teams, you can increase their productivity by encouraging autonomy and teamwork and ensuring they have comfortable working spaces in their homes.
In addition, utilizing technology to automate various tasks can reduce their workload and allow them time to perform the more crucial tasks, which helps increase overall company productivity and output.