Last year, a survey by accounting software consulting firm Capterra found that less than four out of 10 users of accounting software are in the cloud. That’s a low number considering 2.8% of the U.S. workforce currently works from home, at least half the time, and world business leaders are predicting more than half of the full-time workforce will be working remotely within the next five years.
Moving to cloud computing should be a priority for the accounting industry, although many employers still think of it as a perk rather than standard operating procedure.
Employees want flexible work arrangements
A 2014 survey from the job search website FlexJobs found that workers of all ages and life stages prioritize flexible work arrangements. Reasons range from better work/life balance, health reasons, family commitments, time and cost savings, and reduced commute stress. Smart companies recognize that to compete for and keep top talent, work from home options need to be on the table.
Working from home is productive
Think about it. When you have an important project to work on that requires your full, uninterrupted attention, do you come into the office on the weekend or stay late, knowing you won’t be bothered by ringing phones, chatty co-workers, and other interruptions? The place where many employers require their workers to report to every day can actually hinder productivity. Allowing employees to work from home, at least part-time, allows them to decide which environment is best for that day’s tasks. Client meetings or co-worker collaborations may be better suited for the office, while work that requires focused concentration can be done in a home office where there are fewer interruptions.
Cost-saving benefits for employers
In the simplest terms, cloud computing is doing business on the Web, eliminating the need for in-house technology infrastructure such as servers. Cloud applications are designed for Web deployment, eliminating the need to distribute and install software on multiple machines. Because cloud computing reduces the need for physical infrastructure, hardware, and other associated costs, IT expenses can be greatly reduced.
Allowing employees to work remotely can also eliminate the need for huge office space to accommodate all workers at once.
One issue the accounting and finance industry has with cloud computing and remote work is the issue of security. Reputable cloud service providers can offer the highest level of security against hacking and natural disasters. In the end, your data could be even more secure than it is in the office, since the threat of break-ins and physical damage is eliminated.
Of course, allowing access to corporate networks from home computers is not without its risks. Home computers may be more susceptible to hacking, so employers need to take measures to make sure remote workspaces are as secure as possible. Your telecommuting policy should clearly address security, offer ongoing training, and ensure that equipment is maintained and supported.
In most cases, working from home is already happening
Does anyone at your company receive company email on a phone or tablet or work from a laptop while away from the office? Then you’re already using remote work on some limited scale. Take the initiative to expand and formalize work from home arrangements to maximize benefits for the company and your staff.
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