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Firm Management

How Firms Can Create Success in the Real World of the Remote Work

To be successful as an organization navigating the advantages and challenges of this new way of working, it is essential to have the right team and technologies.

Manage Remote Workers

By Nicole McMillan.

While other sectors of the economy are still wrestling with the dilemma of “if, when, and how” to bring their employees back to the office post-pandemic, statistics show that in the accounting profession, the remote workforce remains strong–and by many firms, is the preferred staffing model for the foreseeable future.

The ConvergenceCoaching ATAWW Survey shows that the percentage of firms allowing their team members to work remotely in 2022 nearly doubled to 80 percent. In addition, 43 percent of firms report making remote recruiting part of their talent strategy.

This is not surprising since the pandemic made it clear that the accounting profession is primed to work remotely.  While the work of accounting and tax certainly lends itself to being done remotely, to be successful as an organization navigating the advantages and challenges of this new way of working, it is essential to have the right team and technologies.

Setting Up Your Team for Remote Work Success

Call it the post-pandemic professional reflection period, or just a remote work reckoning, but unsurprisingly, many people began to rethink how and when they wanted to work post 2020, and this meant that remote work opportunities were more attractive.

In fact, according to 2023 industry research, 41 percent of finance and accounting professionals were looking or planning to look for a new job in the first half of 2023. Of these respondents, well over half (63 percent) sought a hybrid position, and 47 percent were looking for a fully remote position.

According to a PwC Remote Work Survey, of those individuals who had been remote working most of the time during the pandemic, 48 percent said they were feeling a positive impact on their wellbeing, compared with 23 percent who said they were feeling a negative impact. And 38 percent said they felt their working practices had improved.

Not surprisingly, a large number of firms are adopting more flexible work environments, especially to retain and attract talent in today’s challenging job market. According to a recent article in The Journal of Accountancy, hybrid work models seem to work best for many employees and the firms where they work. Having these types of environments, the authors of the article notes, allows for more diverse workforces to be built, since firms can draw from a larger talent pool as well as “leveling the playing field” for female employees, especially those who have young families and need added flexibility.

Once a firm has the right talent in place, it is also key to ensure you have the technology and security infrastructure in place to support them.

A Turnkey Technology Infrastructure is Critical for Remote Work

Remote work by its very nature demands that firms have structured processes and technology environments to ensure efficiency, productivity and their team resources. A solid practice management system is essential for the success of remote teams because it provides the “one-place” that all of the firm’s employees can access to work collaboratively.

Having a comprehensive, secure practice management solution will also empower firm management when it comes to the oversight of team productivity and the workflows associated with client management. With this fundamental infrastructure in place, firms can then provide a standardized work process for their remote team members.

Failing to have the right technologies in place to allow for effective communication, proposals and billing, client management, and workflow management is one of the most common and devastating problems that can arise for remote teams, which often rely on digital means to collaborate and accomplish their tasks.

Another important aspect of technology for remote teams is security. When you hire staff that work from multiple locations using multiple and varied tools , it is critical to have cybersecurity and data security safeguards in place, so that your remote or hybrid workforce does not become a liability in this area.

Firms that have already been able to master the technology necessary for remote team members to work seamlessly definitely have an advantage compared to firms that have yet to do this. However, if your firm is still struggling to find the best solution for your team and your technology to leverage the benefits of remote work (greater productivity, efficiency and greater access to a higher level talent pool) one of the best actions you can take after “busy season” is to map out how you think your firm can embrace these trends.

Once you determine what kind of remote work can realistically be done in your firm, create a roadmap of the talent you need and what kind of technology can support them. Then start moving toward your ideal firm so that by the end of the year, you will be accustomed to what it will take to run a remote firm that reaps the revenue and the work life balance that you and your team are looking for


Nicole MacMillan is the chief people officer at Canopy. She is a strategic HR leader with demonstrated experience collaborating with all levels of leadership to drive successful people initiatives in dynamic and fast-paced environments. Known as an out-of-the-box thinker who offers creative and effective solutions to support an exceptional employee experience and drive high performing teams. Her industry experience includes technology, wellness, consumer goods, entertainment, and aerospace & defense. Experienced with global organizations, both private and public, spanning start-up to established large firms. She is skilled in engaging complex, evolving, distributed, and diverse employee populations to achieve business results.