One firm’s journey into remote work and beyond

By Nicole Fracasso, OSCPA communications intern

Although accounting is deemed essential, firms have been working remotely throughout the coronavirus pandemic, and it’s important to determine how your firm can grow from the situation, said Don McIntosh, CPA and CEO of Rea and Associates.

“We’re appreciative that we were able to keep everyone working,” he said.

Some – but not all – employees were already accustomed to working remotely, McIntosh said.

“Fortunately for us, we had already been working on setting our firm up for remote work,” he said. “This forced us to do it much earlier than we had originally planned.”

Regardless, the transition to remote work took some getting used to.

“Probably the biggest thing we had to do was order 200 more VPN licenses,” he said.

In addition, McIntosh said maintaining daily interaction has been one of the most stressful aspects of the transition.

“Social interaction is a major plus for us at Rea,” he said. “A lot of people have missed that greatly.”

McIntosh recommends reaching out to those people you like to talk to at work to maintain those social interactions.

While there were some setbacks in the beginning, the company has become more accustomed to a remote atmosphere each week, he said.

“It was kind of crazy the first week,” McIntosh said. “And the number of help tickets has steadily decreased each week to a very manageable amount.”

Now that people are growing more comfortable with working remotely, it’s time to determine what comes next for the firm, he said.

“My job is the firm,” he said. “So, I concentrate on the firm and meet with my leadership teams each day.”

Part of discovering what’s next is determining what challenges are to come. For example, McIntosh said he is focusing on the best ways to communicate with employees and their clients with tax season being extended.

In the future, McIntosh predicts more employees will have the option of working from home at least a couple times a week. While some prefer to return to the office full time, others have learned they can do their jobs remotely, and may want to continue doing so to some extent.

“At the end of the day we have to take care of our employees,” he said. “And if our employees want to work from home, we have to determine how we make that happen.”

While all the changes might feel like communication overload for some, McIntosh said it’s important to get all the information out there and be as transparent and patient as possible.

“Patience is number one,” he said. “We’re in this together.”

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