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Do You Even Need a Physical Business Office Anymore?

Do You Even Need a Physical Business Office Anymore?

May 28, 2021 | By Isaac O'Bannon | 0 Comments

Topics: HR, company culture, Featured, COVID-19

The fear of COVID-19 is receding as people around the world receive vaccines, so professional firms that closed their offices for a while are now returning. While every firm was impacted in different, unique ways, all firms are reassessing what their policies will be going forward when it comes to remote work.

For some, this means back to work as usual, with all or most staff sitting in the same desks and the same office as before. Many other firms are moving toward a hybrid model, with workers coming into the office a couple of days a week and working the other days remotely. 

Despite the pandemic, revenue and productivity measurements have shown that the pandemic did not have a monumental effect, with more than two-thirds of firms meeting or surpassing their budgeted revenue and income growth for 2020. In fact, according to a Rosenberg Survey, “very few firms had to furlough or lay off employees.” Furthermore, 80 percent of the firms surveyed expect fee growth in 2021.

In other words, business volume is still growing, and professional firms proved that they could rapidly transition to most or all staff working at home for a significant amount of time. 

So, do firms really need to have a physical office, if they can achieve the same productivity and revenue remotely, and with less overhead costs? How does the hybrid business model fit in?

Here are some of the benefits of three different options, which you should consider when determining whether to keep your pre-pandemic office size, downsize some, or go fully remote.


Return to Full Office Space

If your firm relies on face-to-face meetings with clients who aren’t as amenable to video calls, or if you have walk-in clients, your office space is a necessity. Likewise, if your firm’s physical presence in a business park or building also has marketing and visibility benefits, then the firm should retain it. 

Does your firm’s staff require continuing guidance that is best done in-person? For instance, in-office training programs are often more geared toward in-person methods. Also, if firm camaraderie and team building are critical elements to your practice and your leadership style and preferences, then you will likely want to retain the same office footprint.

Another factor: If your firm uses programs that are housed on servers within the firm, you will need to retain your office space or migrate to a fully-cloud solution before trying an alternative office model. 


Hybrid Office Space

Workers have gotten more accustomed to working remotely over the past year. Although this was once a perceived benefit for senior staff or occasional accommodation of worker issues, it became the norm for almost everyone, at least for a time. Some workers loved it. Some hated it. 

A hybrid office would allow the firm to downsize its office space some since workers could come into the office on a staggered schedule. For example, group A would come in on Monday and Tuesday, and Group B on Wednesday and Thursday, with a few core professionals in-office through the week. Those on the staggered shifts could work from a shared desk. 

This hybrid model allows for some retention of the HR benefits of remote work, while also enabling better firm culture building and in-person team building.  


An Entirely Remote Office

While some small professional firms have been totally remote since the advent of high speed internet and good cloud systems, this has mainly been the realm of practices with only one or a handful of total staff. 

For some, a business/firm doesn’t feel real unless there is a sign on a door in an office building, that clients and workers can see. But now that we’ve grown accustomed to the shift to work-from-home and fully remote client services, many practices will entertain whether that space is worth the cost. If fully digital, this can work well for a firm. But those who still rely on paper processes, printing and file cabinets will need to transition from those processes or retain an office.


Moving Forward with What’s Best for Your Firm

The pandemic didn’t invent the remote workforce, but it did accelerate it. It also gave everyone a sudden taste of it. Now, the coming months will be a natural time to evaluate and consider making any transitions you think could benefit your firm, staff and clients. 

Returning to your previous office space will work well for some, while others will find more value in the flexibility that remote firms can achieve, including more easily adding workers to your team, whether they are near or far.

And, whether you are in-office, remote, or somewhere in between, one consistency you can count on is that BQE Core will be the all-in-one accounting software for your firm’s needs. The cloud system of CORE makes it perfect to use anywhere, no matter what you decide works best for your firm. 

The Author

Isaac O'Bannon

Isaac M. O’Bannon is the managing editor of CPA Practice Advisor and has been advising accounting and technology firms for 20 years.

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