5 Flexible Work Tips For CPAs During Tax Season

Cary Stover is a small business owner who runs a successful professional services firm.  Stover, like thousands of other CPAs, is putting in extra hours at work between now and the looming IRF tax filing deadline of April 15th. 

During the off season, Stover runs his business virtually – paying for a top-tier business address and telephone number at prominent business address in Campbell, CA – while he works from home. The benefit is a professional receptionist to answer his calls, low overhead to run his company and access to offices and meeting rooms as needed. 

To manage the high volume of work and client appointments during the hectic tax season, Stover upgrades his existing agreement with his virtual office provider, Regus, and secures a full-time private office for three to four months each year.  He’s been scaling up his business as needed for a number of years and says it’s the most cost-effective, flexible way to run his company. 

For those CPAs who run their business mainly from home but need a more professional  location for client meetings during tax time, here are some tips to keep your business running smoothly during this demanding time period:   

Scale your Business:  One of the costliest expenses for a business is property costs. Long-term agreements on a fixed amount of space would be wasted money for Stover, who doesn’t require a full-time office year round.  Having access to space when needed allows him to be more efficient with his capital expenses.  Technology allows CPAs and other business professionals to be fully functional any where at anytime. And, many enjoy the work-life balance a home-based business offers.  Utilizing a flexible workspace provider gives professionals the ability to ramp up or down as their business needs change.  

Maintain a Professional Image:  Even if you work at home, most professionals do not want their clients knocking at their door and sitting down at the kitchen table for a meeting. Distractions by children and or pets do not project the right image and can impact productivity.  Meeting space can be reserved in a shared office environment for any amount of time.  Clients will be greeted by a professional team who can ensure a smooth meeting.   

Outsource Office-Related Tasks:  As a Regus customer, Stover can use pay-as-you-go services such as administrative support he could use for invoicing during tax season.  When compared to adding headcount, Stover suggests this is an affordable way to add support staff during peak tax season.  This will boost productivity and allow you to focus on your clients’ needs.

Work Closer to Home:  One of the benefits of working from home is the elimination of a stressful commute to work.  However, there are instances when a change of environment can help your performance.  Drop-in business centers offer membership to its space that allows individuals who work from home the opportunity to connect and socialize with people from a variety of industries.  Stopping into one of these locations in between meetings can lead to new business opportunities and will prevent the feeling of isolation, which can come up occasionally when working from home. 

Have the right technology:  If your business employs multiple people, make sure you have the technology platform in place that allows coworkers to communicate. A breakdown in communication can slow down the performance of the company and jeopardize the customer experience.  Make sure you have collaboration software to help your workers stay in touch.  If you have a remote workforce, scheduling video conferences or Skype can keep workers connected. 

5 Tips To Save Your Business Money

 

With 2013 well underway and our personal resolutions in the works (some more successful than others), it’s also time to think about shaping up your business. With recent Business Confidence Index research indicating cash flow as the biggest concern for businesses; small business owners and entrepreneurs should use the New Year as a fresh start to approaching their business finances. While personally we can head to the gym or shop less to carry out resolutions, what can businesses do to trim the “business belly fat” and increase cash flow?

 

Here are five steps businesses can take to be fiscally fit in 2013:

 Right size your business: Behind payroll, office space is the largest expenses for small businesses. Ask yourself, do you need a costly, long-term lease that may not apply to your company in six months’ time? See if non-binding, flexible arrangements like drop-in lounges better suit your company’s needs.

2.       Get flexible so your business can react to change: Explore today’s many flexible working options such as co-working, home-working and staggered working hours to reduce stressful commuting, improve morale and boost productivity.

3.       Reach out for new customers: Businesses that have an address in the same city as their customers and prospects have an advantage over out-of-town competitors.  By using a virtual office with a prestigious address, your company can expand into new areas with no upfront capital and minimal risk.

4.       Leverage technology in lieu of business travel: Videoconferencing, Skype and online meetings can keep you in touch with colleagues and clients without the hassle of traveling.

5.       Learn from your mistakes: Symbolically, the New Year represents a clean slate for your business.  Make the time to evaluate what worked and where there is room for improvement heading into 2013. 

5 Tips To Managing A Remote Workforce

The number of remote workers worldwide is expected to reach more than 1 billion this year as more and more professionals are either exploring the idea of flexible work or have already adopted this lifestyle.  Companies like Aetna are touting their gains in this area, while Bank of America is reconsidering keeping their robust program going. And last year, several academics (including MIT’s Sloan School and Stanford) conducted studies focusing the potential downside to being ‘out-of-sight, out –of-mind.’ Among managers’ chief concerns were maintaining employee productivity and ensuring trust between managers and their direct reports.

But who should be responsible for improving trust in flexible work relationships? According to a recent survey from Regus, 81% of respondents believe businesses should be more trusting of employees  Additionally, 88% of U.S. respondents believe managers need to be more accepting of flexible work arrangements.  Additional insights from the survey include:

·        Over 50% of managers who create flexible work environments are rewarded/recognized for their innovation.

·        Younger workers have made flexible working “more mainstream” (77% nationally)

·        Managers are more apt (79 percent nationally) to see an employee arriving early and staying late as “hardworking” while the individual employee does not (54%nationally)

 

 

Here are 5 tips to manage a remote workforce:

1. Establish Goals:  Write down plans and create a vision for your new workplace initiative that incorporates objectives and benefits to the individual, the team and the organization.  Implement a results-based management program that will allow managers to easily set and measure goals and objectives for their virtual workforce. 

2. Maintain Regular Communication: Keep on top of projects by checking in regularly and understanding the nature of the work employees are engaged in.  Lead by example; schedule meetings in person and using video-conferencing to create as much face-to-face interaction as possible. 

3. Have On-demand Space Available:  Offer those employees working remotely or from home access to professional workplaces when they need it.  Workers need to be assured they can tap into professional services and support when required.   The ability to collaborate and network is key personal and corporate growth.

4. Promote Corporate Culture:  Encourage corporate camaraderie by creating opportunities for your employees to formally and informally socialize, as well as form networks with other professionals.  These connections can reinforce your corporate culture and identity.  Include remote workers in corporate events such as holiday parties and corporate outings.

5. Encourage Feedback:  Empathize with employees and listen to their concerns regarding working remotely to help secure their buy-in.  Employee input could help improve the execution of the virtual working program.        

A distributed workforce does not have to be a chaotic workforce. Integrating remote workers, building and sustaining a strong team and corporate identity and keeping all employees connected are not only vital for building trust, but equally as important it will foster loyalty and respect within an organization.

5 Tips To Managing A Remote Workforce

Establish Goals: Write down plans and create a vision for your new workplace initiative that incorporates objectives and benefits to the individual, the team and the organization.  Implement a results-based management program that will allow managers to easily set and measure goals and objectives for their virtual workforce.

Maintain Regular Communication:  Keep on top of projects by checking in regularly and understanding the nature of the work employees are engaged in.  Lead by example; schedule meetings in person and using video-conferencing to create as much face-to-face interaction as possible.

Have On-demand Space Available:  Offer those employees working remotely or from home access to professional workplaces when they need it.  Workers need to be assured they can tap into professional services and support when required.  The ability to collaborate and network is key to personal and corporate growth.

Promote Corporate Culture:  Encourage corporate camaraderie by creating opportunities for your employees to formally and informally socialize, as well as form networks with other professionals.  These connections can reinforce your corporate culture and identity.  Include remote workers in corporate events such as holiday parties and corporate outings.

Encourage Feedback:  Empathize with employees and listen to their concerns regarding working remotely to help secure their buy-in.  Employees input could help improve the execution of the virtual working program.

A distributed workforce does not have to be a chaotic workforce.  Integrating remote workers, building and sustaining a strong team and corporate identity and keeping all employees connected are not only vital for building trust, but equally as important it will foster loyalty and respect within an organization.