Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, government advice has stated that working from home should be the adopted practice for those who are able to do so. Whilst disruption has occurred for many professionals and students, in the life of a Part-Qualified Accountant, this means disruption to both work and study routines.
GAAPweb spoke to Sophie Adams and Henry Berry, two junior finance professionals who are working towards becoming Chartered Accountants of the ICAEW. Their studies have been affected by the ICAEW postponing and cancelling exams, but their daily routine has also changed. In this article, both Sophie and Henry share advice for other Part-Qualified Accountants as they adapt to working from home.
Tell me a bit about your role.
Sophie: I’m doing the apprenticeship scheme at Dixon Wilson; I was part of the March 2019 intake. My role as a Trainee Accountant involves accounts, tax and auditing.
Henry: I joined PwC in September 2019 on their audit grad scheme in the Leeds office. Most of the clients I audit are within the Banking and Capital Markets industry. My role is to give a reasonable assurance that the financial statements that a company prepares are free from error i.e. they are paying the right amount of tax.
How have you / your firm adapted to home working?
Sophie: At first, it was a big change from being in the office, but we have all now joined various new communicating apps e.g. Slack and Zoom, and we use these to hold video calls and group chats with various teams. When computer issues arise, our IT team work hard to resolve them. I have been taking every day as it comes, but I have personally found working at home to be more productive.
Henry: PwC as a company have always promoted flexible working, encouraging people to work from home to find that work/life balance. Since joining I've had ‘the essentials’ on me at all times if working from home is required. On the whole, as an Associate I'd say it's working well, there's a big emphasis at the moment on ensuring everyone looks after their mental health. We’ve been receiving daily emails which offer support and helplines to get in touch if we feel like we need it.
What has been your biggest challenge working from home as an Accountant and have you managed to overcome it?
Sophie: The biggest challenge has definitely been our remote server. This causes frequent delays throughout the day which can be very frustrating. Our management has given us the option to work outside of peak hours - when there are less people using the server - to increase efficiency. We also have feedback chat sessions in the morning and the afternoon to see how the server has been coping.
Henry: Motivation. Initially when working from home, the days felt quite long due to the lack of interaction with colleagues. Hangout chats and other internal communications aren’t quite the same as a face to face conversation! To break up the day, there are now various peer group skype calls / Drawasaurus games which keep everyone connected.
How have your examinations / studies been affected?
Sophie: Our e-assessments at the end of April are still going ahead. Others who are doing the Advanced level exams have had their exams postponed into August at present.
Henry: Examinations have been postponed until further notice, I can't comment on when they will be sat given the unpredictable times we are in. Before the pandemic, I studied at home for previous exams, so personally nothing feels different.
How do you stay motivated on a day to day basis?
Sophie: I would say that creating a to-do list at the start of the day and regular communication with others is the key to staying motivated.
Henry: Make sure you are taking breaks from work, exercising and sleeping well. Keeping in touch with your team is also very important. Maybe consider taking up a hobby on an evening such as learning a language, completing jigsaws or taking up yoga as this gives you something to look forward to.
Do you have any additional advice for other part-qualified accountancy and finance professionals in your situation?
Sophie: Be patient, keep the communication up and remember that everyone's in the same boat.
Henry: Enjoy the zero commute while it lasts! And make sure that you’re taking regular breaks. Check in with your colleagues as well to see how they're adapting to the new working life, as it’s important to stay connected.
Stay tuned to the GAAPweb careers blog for upcoming advice and on how to work remotely when you’re an accountancy or finance professional.
If you have any stories or top tips for working from home as an Accountant or finance professional, we’d love to hear from you. Find out more by getting in touch with our team at email@example.com.
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