What can we expect post-pandemic? Are there apps you have discovered that are helping to define the New Normal? Are there apps that need to be created to help us continue to exist, socialize, get back to work? We asked members of the CPA Practice Advisor community to share some apps they are learning to like, and we also encouraged them to dream a little and come up with new apps that it would be great to have as we venture out into the world again. Here are their suggestions.
Will Hill, senior product manager-tax professionals advisory, at Thomson Reuters suggested, “I can envision more office sharing. What app will be created/repurposed to allow team members to ‘sign out’ an office for the day or half of a day?”
Rick Richardson, CPA, CITP, CGMA, managing partner at Richardson Media & Technologies (and former drummer for The Beach Boys), wants to remind us that, “During this crisis, our mental health is suffering. Headspace is here to give you the tools and resources to look after your mind. And now, more than ever, it’s time to support those who really need it. If you’re unemployed, you can get a free year of Headspace Plus to help you get back on your feet.”
Richardson also wants us to be on the lookout for Digital Health Passport. “Several researchers are working with different technologies to create smartphone apps that would provide a ‘certificate’ of COVID-19 immunity which could be required for someone to return to work. Some of these may also incorporate Bluetooth-based contact tracing, others will be using Blockchain technology.”
Randy Johnston, executive vice president at K2 Enterprises, shared his awareness of several apps that might come in handy:
- Confirmed: calendar scheduling that is better than Bookings, Calendly or the other competitors
- Yabbu – a meeting agenda builder
- PhoneSoap – this is a product that provides convenient sanitation and stops the spread of bacteria
- We need contact tracing apps to know when we are exposed to unhealthy people. Johnston pointed to TraceTogether and Unacast. TraceTogether, an app released by the Singaporean Government, exchanges Bluetooth signals between phones to store information about people with whom you have come in contact. It then works with contract tracers to inform contacts of a COVID-19 case. Unacast tracks phone location to show trends and patterns in social distancing.
- Health passports such as Onfido use facial recognition to access a health profile and thus promote safe travel.
Jennifer Wilson, partner and co-founder of ConvergenceCoaching, would be interested in seeing, “An app that can beep if you get within 6 feet of someone else (helps maintain social distancing); something to take the temp of the people you are with; something that can measure the body heat in a room and the size of the room to tell you there are too many people in it to be safe. These might be all paranoid ideas, but helpful during this need to stay well away from others.”
Sandra Wiley, president of Boomer Consulting, offered to share her “I wish” app: “I really want to get back out again, and I think the only way that I’m going to ever feel comfortable going out and interacting in public again is if I have assurances that the people around me are as healthy as science allows us to detect. So the app would be a map of the area around me in real time that detects anyone with a fever. Then, I know who to stay away from. 🙂 The next wave of the app would be some way to tell who has had the vaccine (when it is finally developed). I fear that would require a chip to be implanted in people, and I’m not sure I am ready to go there yet.”
“Work from home can have a negative repercussion on personal time and the work/life balance as work is always there; coupled with quarantine and the perception that there is nowhere to go, it is easy for employees to feel they always have to be available,” explained Kacee Johnson, strategic advisor at CPA.com. “For some, working at all hours is the norm – but for the receiver of emails it can pull them back in to work when the item can wait until business hours. We need an app, or better yet an add-on to our mobile email, which will hold all emails ‘sent’ during off-hours. Or the ability when you hit send after hours to ‘hold delivery until 7am’ – this way those who want to work are not stunted by the lack of ‘delay delivery’ that desktop affords and mobile does not, but the receiver(s) don’t feel compelled to work by the sound of the ding.”
Natasha Schamberger, CPA, CEO & president, Kansas Society of CPAs, is excited to see how this pandemic has changed perspectives around remote work and more flexibility in our accounting profession and is hopeful that new habits will form as a result. “I see a prime opportunity for a Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) to hop on board, especially as our profession moves towards providing more advisory type services. However, I think our profession needs tools to cope and manage a ROWE. This is an idea for a new app, not knowing if there is already something out there that I’m not aware of.
“Instead of traditional performance management software tools or project management software, it’s a combo and specifically geared towards managing employees and a team in a Results Only Work Environment. So maybe an app or software tool that allows for project-focused SMART goals, project tracking, milestone recognition, and ways for teams to see their individual project goals, their team member’s progress, the team goals and how it all feeds into the organization goals. I’m envisioning a collaborative platform similar to an online learning path where:
- Instead of students, it’s professionals
- Instead of learning content within a course, it’s steps to achieve projects.
- Instead of earning a digital badge after learning content, it’s earning a digital badge (or something similar) for achieving certain milestones
- There could be a leaderboard for some friendly competition and motivation on a team
- The manager would have a dashboard view of all team members, the project(s) interconnectivity and progress, plus built in accountability to have regular performance discussions with their employees
In addition, there could be a component where the organization posts the projects with SMART goals/milestones and the employees choose which projects/project teams they prefer to work on.
“I believe our profession would be more apt to move towards a Results Only Work Environment if there were specific tools to manage it and if they could envision it working for advisory type service offerings. This would tie into value billing as well,” said Schamberger.
Caleb Jenkins, leader of client accounting services at RLJ Financial Services, told us, “I think a big category is going to be a better way to manage our time going forward. As we move forward from COVID19 into the future there will be a mad rush of everything that will compete for our time, energy, and attention. We probably have all enjoyed/appreciated the extra time at home with family, so we are going to need to strategically decide how we add events back into our lives the next few months. Managing our time effectively is crucial to keeping us in line with our goals. One app I’m testing out right now is Strides to help me manage my goals during the next few months.”
Garrett Wagner, CPA, CITP, founder/CEO of C3 Evolution Group, said, “It is funny, but as we think about what is happening today and then what will happen going forward, for some of us, we were already virtual and using a variety of apps to communicate, collaborate, share knowledge, and get paid. For us who already embraced the future not much has changed, except others were forced to join us. As we move forward with life are the majority of people going to move away from food delivery and video communication or will they adopt a better way of doing things? Perhaps the best app is one that helps people continue to use technology vs. going back to the way things used to be.”
Blake Oliver, CPA, director of marketing at Jirav, suggests, “We need augmented reality technology ASAP. Imagine working from your home office, joining an online meeting, and a hologram of a colleague or a client pops up appearing to sit on the other side of your desk. Making the two-dimensional video conference three-dimensional could do a lot to help give virtual meetings more of the same feel as in-person meetings.”
Jackie Meyer, CPA, CEO/founder at Meyer Tax, said, “The pandemic has exposed virtual weaknesses firms have as it forced full paperless conversion on everyone, in any stage. The app of the future is a true platform, embedding software into your processes, not vice versa (trying to mash your processes into several different apps that don’t talk). Once firms are tired of cookie-cutter solutions they may have jumped into and can invest time in a truly personalized system, many more firms will be custom developing a platform. Qount.io is that platform for us. We began implementing it in Fall of 2019, before the pandemic, but are so thankful for what we have been able to accomplish by converting (so far) half a dozen apps into the one platform and expect to convert another dozen or so by the end of 2020.”
Samantha Mansfield, part of the DCPA Team and founder at Samantha Mansfield, LLC, said, “Using the personal shoppers has been great for grocery shopping, and don’t see giving up that time saver and convenience. Next, it would be great if Alexa would send our ‘Shopping List’ to your grocery store account to populate what you need, and schedule the pick-up date!”
See inside June 2020
Career Advice for Recent Accounting Grads: Job Hunting and the Pandemic
Graduating during this time will add its own challenges on top of the usual angst that comes along with finding, interviewing for and landing your dream accounting job. In fact, 75 percent of students with jobs have already seen them canceled, delayed or shifted to remote work. That’s especially tough considering many students rely on summer jobs, internships and entry-level positions to gain experience to strengthen their portfolios.