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Accounting

Increasing productivity and flow in tax and accounting firms

When McKinsey & Company asked 5,000 executives how much more productive they are during peak performance, most respondents said it was five times more.

Flow, in positive psychology, is a state of mind when a person is immersed and engaged in an activity. In other words, it’s being “in the zone.” There are many benefits to increasing productivity and flow at work. People accomplish tasks and projects faster and better. They are more motivated and excited to work. And they are more creative and collaborative.

The key is to foster an environment and culture conducive to productivity and flow at your accounting firm.

Change the physical environment of your tax and accounting firm

The office layout, noise level, temperature, and furniture affect productivity, so consider incorporating some of the following to make your physical environment conducive for work.

1. Include both shared spaces and private spaces

The open-plan office design, which removed cubicles to foster collaboration, was all the rage. However, it did not work as expected. It led to fewer interactions and made it harder for employees to concentrate. What works is having a variety of workspaces, giving people a choice on where and how to work, so be sure to include huddle rooms, private rooms, and, yes, shared spaces.

2. Allow flexible schedules and remote accounting work

Employees can do accounting work remotely. Even before the pandemic, almost half of accounting firms implemented work-from-home practices. Giving employees the flexibility of when and where they work can boost their productivity. So, consider a hybrid work arrangement where they work at the office on certain days of the week, which fosters easier collaboration, and at home on other days, so they can do focused work. To learn more, download our whitepaper on how accountants can work from home successfully.

3. Manage the physical variables

The more comfortable and conducive the physical environment is, the happier and more productive workers are. Research on office environments shows that noise level, temperature, air quality, lighting, and even color can affect concentration and productivity.

Nurture the right culture for your tax and accounting employees

The physical environment is one crucial aspect of improving productivity. However, it is not enough. Employees will not achieve flow if the firm’s culture creates distractions, inefficiencies, and disincentives. These are some worthwhile initiatives you can adopt to build the right culture.

1. Make work challenging enough

People get into a state of flow if they find something challenging. Too complicated, and they will feel frustrated. Too easy, and they will lose interest. With clear goals and a sense of control, the right challenge-skill balance contributes to flow.

2. Make accountants feel engaged

People engaged at work are more productive. There are many ways to increase engagement. Give employees greater autonomy and control of their time. Foster workplace friendships. Allow them to take risks. Encourage them to find purpose and meaning in what they do. Offer recognition and constant feedback.

3. Avoid workplace distractions

Meetings are the number one culprit. Keep your meetings few and short, and include only people who are directly involved. Notifications, phone calls, emails, and social media are also common workplace distractions. Institute policies and educate employees on how to manage these issues.

Manage your tax and accounting workflows to increase productivity and flow

Your daily tax workflows could be a source of inefficiencies, making your employees less productive. They may also be performing manual or redundant tasks that consume their time and effort.

Review your current processes and streamline them by cutting unnecessary steps and removing bottlenecks. Automate tasks as much as you can. For example, document management, time tracking, scheduling, and billing can be standardized and automated with software.

Thomson Reuters has workflow solutions for accounting firms that can make your processes more efficient, helping improve workplace productivity.

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