COVID-19 has displaced workforces in Australia, more so in the more heavily populated capital and major cities of Australia.
This has meant the rapid evolution and deployment of the new age of digital platforms supporting online collaboration. At the same time, there is a thinning of the traditional hierarchy of accounting firms, through disintermediation of the organisation. Timesheets are disappearing from Australian accounting firms (maybe), and time clocks have disappeared. Whether you virtually turn up at 8 am to work might not be so important, and the daily huddle is now an exhausting zoom meeting, whilst waiting for all participants. Quite possibly as a result of lack of remote student participation, there is even software to track eye movements to ensure students are paying attention.
For accounting firm leaders, it’s probably no longer the showing up at 8 am in a nice suit and lead the troops, but a requirement to change their leadership style in this digital age. Accounting firm owners are going to have to focus on mentorship rather than supervision. So perhaps forget the dress code. A more connected accounting firm owner, answering emails or online communication (e.g. Slack) will be the norm. And just a staff are (expected to be) more available, so are the accounting firm owners, both to their staff, but also to their clients.
For accounting firm clients, there is no longer the trip to town to meet the accountant. Everything can be done virtually, as noted recently with the ATO confirming digital signatures are ok on SMSF documents. At the same time, there seems criminal opportunists are raiding Superannuation funds with the government’s recent initiative to allow access to those in need. So with the inability to meet clients face-to-face, show them your office, buy them a coffee, give them a warm handshake, what’s left for the accounting firm. If the only communication is digital, then it’s critical that the accounting firm is digitally aware, and reaching out (digitally) to their clients to provide excellent levels of service.
As culture defines the beliefs and behaviours, the progression towards a new working paradigm necessarily means a new way of behaving and working in the corporate world. The beliefs underlying the Australian accounting firm won’t change, but the way in which work is conducted in the next few years has and will continue to evolve, spurred on by our work-from-home experience.
If you need help with your Australian tax and accounting compliance while working on the remote experience, please reach out to Odyssey.