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Why Today's Public Accounting Firms Need a Virtual Workforce Strategy

November 30 2020 • 4 min read

Why Today's Public Accounting Firms Need a Virtual Workforce Strategy

The future of work is changing before our eyes. Paradigm-shifting forces are transforming how and where work gets done, and even by whom. As a result, public accounting firms face new workforce challenges every day. With a shrinking talent pool and increased workload, firms must adapt their workforce strategy to the modern era of work—or risk organizational failure. By looking beyond traditional staffing solutions, we can see the future of audit is unfolding right now—and it’s more agile and virtual than ever before. For public accounting firms, a virtual workforce strategy is no longer plan B. It’s essential.

As you read on, you'll find:

  • What it means to reimagine your workforce strategy
  • How alternative workforce strategies can benefit public accounting firms
  • The evolution of workforce strategy, and what it looks like today
  • Why innovation is the new driving force behind talent acquisition

First, what is a reimagined workforce?

Between massive layoffs and a rapid turn to remote work, some say the COVID-19 pandemic devastates the workforce as we know it. But maybe that’s a good thing. History shows that times of crisis often catalyze positive change. Collectively, challenges can lead to rapid problem solving, innovation, increased resiliency, and systematic change.

But before we examine the future of work, we need to define work. Most people think of work as a place they go for eight hours a day. If you work at an office, you show up at 8 am, take a 60-minute lunch break around noon, and leave at 5 pm. This is “going to work.” We work towards deadlines and KPIs and the next organizational ladder rung. We check it off a to-do list and move on to the next task.

Hit the brakes: what if we redefined work? Deloitte asks, “What if we shifted all workers’ day-to-day time, effort, and attention away from standardized, transactional, tick-the-box tasks to instead focus on higher-value activities, the kind machines can’t readily replicate? And to let them do it in a way that engages their human capabilities to create more and more value?” Which leads us back to the question at hand: what does it look like to reimagine the workforce? Let’s unpack the answer.

Thinking outside the traditional recruiting box

There’s no one-size-fits-all workforce strategy. Instead, today’s methods need to align with workforce and workplace capabilities across your organization. For public accounting firms, this means embracing on-demand, virtual workforce solutions like Makosi. With on-demand audit teams, firms can:

  • Dynamically fill skill and capability gaps by tapping into a global talent pool
  • Deploy an agile workforce to meet fluctuating workload demands
  • Improve productivity and motivation with flexible workplace requirements
  • Decrease recruiting, onboarding, and retention costs with alternative solutions

In fact, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, one of the fastest-growing workforce segments is in the share of “alternative workers.” This accounts for people engaged in an alternative work arrangement through a contract or third-party firm. Additionally, technology has made it easier for firms to implement alternative workforce solutions that tap into full-time employees and on-demand workers’ talent.

Embrace the new era of workforce strategy solutions

Workforce strategy has evolved beyond traditional recruiting and into a dynamic, virtual-focused, mission-critical business strategy. Firms that embrace today’s workforce flexibility and fluidity will gain a competitive advantage over those that don’t. Use these three pillars to inform and inspire your strategy:

Leverage Insights

Never accept “because we’ve always done it this way” as an answer. We live in an age of unlimited data, which means organizations have a plethora of valuable insight at their fingertips. By using data-driven insights, firms can identify important trends and make informed workforce decisions.

Redesign your workforce

After analyzing insights, look at ways to redesign your workforce structure. For example, suppose the data reveals workforce overages or shortages based on busy season fluctuations. In that case, firms can utilize on-demand and virtual workforce solutions to fill gaps and reduce the cost of audit by up to 25 percent.

Curate experiences

However, it’s not all about data and cost reduction. The competition for today’s top audit talent is steep. To engage the best talent, firms need to cater to experience, including career development, learning opportunities, workplace flexibility, and work-life balance. Or, firms can opt for an alternative solution like Makosi. At Makosi, we provide access to a global talent pool of 1,000+ verified auditors, all of whom receive coaching and experiential support during their placements. Firms get the skilled talent they need; the talent gets the experience they want. It’s a win-win.

Let innovation inform your workforce strategy

Innovation has become a common buzzword. Every tech-forward organization claims to be “innovative” and “cutting edge.” But what does it mean to innovate? At a high level, innovation embodies a willingness to try new things and do things differently. It’s not just installing a new piece of technology to increase productivity. Instead, it’s about implementing, testing, and iterating on new ideas, processes, and ways of working.

More importantly, what does it mean for public accounting firms to innovate? In a relatively traditional industry, innovation might seem less relevant. But firms that let innovation inform their strategies are already seeing positive results. For example, some firms are using virtual platforms to perform a virtual audit and fill specialized skill gaps in their workforce. Others are maximizing existing technology to increase internal efficiencies. In the future, innovation will likely look to AI to perform menial tasks, freeing up skilled workers to add more value to organizations. One thing is for sure: we’re at a turning point in terms of what the future of audit looks like. Firms can stay the same and become an antiquated commodity—or leverage innovation to transform audit into a valued service.

Conclusion

The future of work will demand a shift from efficiency savings to creative problem-solving, from augmentation to imagination, from cost reduction to investment opportunities, from upskilling to expanding value. And most of all, it will demand an increased reliance on technology to prepare for the next wave of change. Makosi’s workforce solutions help firms reimagine their talent strategies and activate new solutions across their organization. Ready to get to work? Get in touch.

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