In the accounting world, we must strive for balance. As we learned in Accounting 101 class, our assets must equal our liabilities, plus shareholder’s equity. We must also apply the same principles to our professional careers and home life in this rapid period of transition and, in particular, as we focus on new core principles surrounding the concept of flexibility and what it means on a daily basis.
Flexibility has been a big source of discussion lately and is of the utmost importance to today’s CPAs and rising CPAs. We live in exceptionally taxing times with a significant amount of overwhelming change. As the world continues to evolve, so do the needs and wants of staffs in the tax and accounting industry. To stay competitive with other career fields, the accounting profession needs to continuously progress and adapt to an ever-changing “new normal.” Adjusting to a more forward-thinking approach will lead to more satisfied employees, lower turnover, and attraction and retention of new talent.
The profession faces many challenges that could throw us “out of balance.” However, we need to overcome these challenges and meet them head-on. Adopting a core flexibility model will help us achieve the desired balance that will support the needs and wants of staffs. There are many examples of how to accomplish flexibility, including telecommuting agreements, compressed workweeks, reduced summer hours, extended holiday closures, mental health days, volunteer hours and the ability to flex daily working hours, depending on changing priorities. Workplace flexibility will also necessitate adaption in areas that traditionally happened in an office setting, such as training staff, cultivating workplace culture and encouraging collaboration. Businesses that successfully transition to this newer model must address these issues and others as they arise.
Relocation falls within the flexibility spectrum and has been a hot topic lately. The ability to relocate while continuing a professional career and balancing personal needs and priorities concurrently is becoming extremely desirable. PWC announced on Oct. 1 that it is allowing all eligible United States employees to telework the ability to work virtually from anywhere in the U.S. This is a huge step in workplace flexibility.
Other organizations are working toward addressing the implications of a changing work environment. During its last few meetings, National Conference of Lawyers and CPAs (NCLCPA) — a group comprised of AICPA and the American Bar Association (ABA) members who consider issues affecting the accounting and legal professions — discussed the implications of hybrid work arrangements. Hybrid work creates a unique and more flexible environment by combining time spent on-site or in office settings with remote work. The NCLCPA pointed out that a breadth and depth of expertise is needed to address risks and organizational changes involved with adoption of hybrid work. The group continues to discuss the considerations that lawyers and CPAs need to contemplate when adopting hybrid work arrangements.
Flexibility is multi-faceted and also can encompass reducing workload overall. Some countries have modeled studies on reducing workload. Governments and businesses globally have run pilot programs that show promising results. Even in the U.S., some headway is being made. Recently, Congressman Mark Takano from California introduced legislation in support of a four-day workweek. As of Dec. 7, 2021, the Congressional Progressive Caucus also endorsed this bill. As this example demonstrates, change will continue to happen and is inevitable. Flexibility will continue to be important to employees and, by extension, employers. How we respond to change is critical. We want to continue to attract and retain the brightest and best staff. To sum it up, life is like accounting — everything must be in balance!