We asked the Accountants across Birmingham, the Black Country, Warwickshire and Worcestershire what effect Covid 19 was having on them, their working practices and their business. This is what we found out.
“68% said they were as busy as ever”
Ask most accountants how they are doing now and they will probably tell you “busy!”. In a rapidly changing world, Accountants are part of a businesses ability to adapt to the now and plan for the future. If its not cash flow forecasting, its furlough rules and the demands on our accountants are only set to increase over the next quarter or so.
“Just 9% of Accountants are currently furloughed”
The importance of an accounting team is shown by the fact that less than 1 in 10 are currently furloughed, often a striking difference to operational and sales roles. Indeed 9% more are expecting furlough, but with less than 1% of staff made redundant, accountants are as important as ever. Those Furloughed have tended to be lower level transactional volume based roles, whilst demands are growing on FP&A and group accounting functions.
81% are fully home based
92% of surveyed accountants were working from home, with 81% of those not even going into the office once a month, who would ever have thought we would say that? New technologies have made accounting roles very mobile and just 8% are now working from the office 5 days a week.
The optimal WFH balance is 1 – 2 days a week
Flexible working patterns and working from home has been one of the small but key benefits to come out of this crisis. If companies can continue this progress, it has the ability to have huge positive affects on family life and environmental change. We do however need to strike this balance, according to our research, the optimal days from home a week was 1 – 2, not 5! Accountants still very much value the office and you can see our working from home study here:
This crisis was always going to have an impact on the economy, but the reading was not as bad as you may have thought.
Sales outlook immediately after lockdown:
25% - Felt it would be the same as previous levels
8% - Felt they are positively benefiting and will be higher
31% - Felt it would be significantly lower
36% - Felt it would be marginally lower
The impact of the virus will be wide spread in many ways, but the damage is likely to be focused. Any industry that focuses on the movement or meeting of people (Hospitality, Estate Agents, Pubs, Aviation) could be severely hit, with service firms (Tech, Law, Consultancy) more likely to take a smaller blow. The positive news is whilst these firms are indeed looking at smaller sales projections, the government has also taken extensive steps to support the economy.
The outcome of this is that many firms may just be mildly inconvenienced by the impact of the crisis and will tend to be solid going forward, if not a little leaner in the short term. The highly impacted industries will need to be supported by the governments and the markets. In the Midlands this will include Pubs (numerous large pub chains in the midlands), Property and Automotive Manufacturing.
Many thriving businesses will continue to thrive post C-19 and some may do better.
“1 in 5 are still looking to hire”
Just under 1 in 5 (18%) of finance leaders were still looking to recruit once the lockdown is over. Hiring freezes are often a short term measure and once a business has a reliable prediction of what will happen going forward, you can expect this figure to rise.
With change comes opportunity and there are no doubt some positives to take from the upheaval of our daily lives.
“Embracing technology to make working from home standard”
The biggest positive that came out of our survey was the opportunity to drive the flexible working and WFH agenda through companies. 1-2 days a week from home has a range of benefits from environmental to social.
“Low Interest rates & a sales bump”
Some of the industries that have been particularly badly hit (pubs and venues) are positive in seeing a large bump in sales when lockdown is over, which is exciting! Low interest rates also makes attractive reading for investors which could drive opportunity.
Another huge benefit of the crisis is that it has given the planet a chance to breathe. I also hope it influences local policies. Too many local councils (ours included!) focus on making it prohibitively difficult and expensive to travel as a way of cutting emissions. We need to embrace the technology we have and provide a better alternative to our current working practices as people show time and time again that if there is a viable option, they will take it. Encouraging a 1 day a week from home regional policy where possible would be a great and simple place to start.
“Family time and a stronger community”
Whilst you may think it’s a negative when your fighting a 3 year old for a crayon and trying to hit your latest deadline at the same time, more family time is good for everyone. Many people have taken the opportunity to spend more time with their immediate family and I certainly see my friends more now (remotely!) than I did previously. A sense of community is another big bonus.
If you need bespoke analysis and advice for your business or job search, feel free to drop me a call on 07966710197 or Dan.Taylor@countedrec.com
Our other local studies are here: https://www.countedrec.com/blog-index