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Alternative Takeaways with Abi Bown, Chief Growth Officer at Cooper Parry

Here are three takeaways from Abi Bown, Chief Growth Officer at Cooper Parry, at our recent Accountancy Hangout where our panel of speakers shared their experiences of working remotely as accountancy firms and how to work well with people and clients, using technology to do so.

GET CREATIVE WITH VIRTUAL CONTACT

Take advantage of tech to organise a variety of team catch-ups, from smaller, frequent catch-ups to larger, less frequent meetings.

“We already had a culture of working from anywhere, pre-lockdown. But we’ve definitely seen that be turbocharged as everyone’s forced to work differently and, personally, I think that’s great. Our productivity has actually increased rather than decreased. Things that we have kept in, which are working well, are daily kickstarts. For just 15 minutes every morning – good morning, how are you doing, how are you feeling today and what are your key priorities. This made a big difference, particularly to those who are isolated/might be working from a bedroom or shed, and it gives you a chance to check in with everybody.

We’ve also continued our virtual town hall meetings. We call them ‘hollers’, and we had 200 people this morning at 9am on a call, including our chief officer calling and presenting from her camper van in the highlands.”

A variety of meeting formats works well when managing a large team and maintaining an element of structure.

FOCUS ON STAFF WELLBEING

Prioritising staff wellbeing results in team members performing at their best and enjoying their roles. This can look like implementing boundaries, such as email curfews.

“We haven’t found any problems with managing people. If anything, we’re seeing a benefit to people really enjoying being at their best, based where they want, and enjoying their roles and other priorities. And, if anything, that seems to be adding to the culture and their experience and the client experience. We’ve moved our kickstart meetings around to adjust to people’s different working days and we try to maintain some boundaries to avoid working a lot longer. We’re focusing more on wellbeing and maintaining those boundaries for people, so we’ve kept a 7-7 email curfew in place where we don’t encourage people to send work-based emails (unless its business-critical) before 7am or after 7pm.  We’re finding you can’t communicate too much and people are looking for consistency at the moment to keep that level of security.”

When working remotely, Abi also recommended avoiding telling staff too much at one time and to repeat the same message in different ways to ensure it sinks in.

ASK CLIENTS FOR FEEDBACK

The importance of flexibility is amplified when working with clients on a remote-basis. Knowing how to meet each client’s unique needs is determined by asking the client for feedback and regularly reviewing processes to ensure they are the best they can be.

“Tailoring your approach to where your client is at is obvious but really critical. We’ve used Teams as a main collaboration tool with clients, which we were doing but are doing even more now, using that as a portal for the communication and collaboration. We’ve been doing remote audits anyway but now have  had to do that for all elements of the service. So, changing processes to make them work really well, smoothly, and conveniently for clients, digitally, has been really important. We’ve asked our clients how well they feel they have been supported during this period and we got some really interesting feedback from that about the communication they want, what they want to hear from us, how often, and in what format and where they want face-to-face and where they don’t. It’s really forced the agenda and made me think harder and faster in how we can do this better.”

For full details of the Alternative Hangouts series please click here.