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Evolving Accounting Trends: How Firms Are Adapting To COVID-19

With the pandemic not yet be behind us, many organizations have had to quickly adapt to a new way of working. The accounting industry is no exception. The disruption resulting from COVID-19 has led to an era of change for most firms across public accounting and private industry, mostly thanks to technology. This has led to the acceleration of many accounting trends.

“Firms and their employees could no longer conduct business as usual, and had no idea what was coming next,” says Michael Cooke, Partner and Executive Vice President at The Execu|Search Group. “Facing new professional and personal challenges, everyone knew they needed to adapt in order to stay competitive. It was just a matter of how and when.”

So, what’s changing? Here are five evolving accounting trends to look out for as you navigate your career.

New technology

Of course, the most tech-forward firms had the most seamless transition to this “new” normal. “Technological shifts already in play were only accelerated by the pandemic, and these companies were best equipped to move to a work from home environment,” explains Michael. “At firms that were slower to adapt, hiring and jobs may have taken a hit as they took a watch and wait approach. When it became clear that the pandemic (and the work) wasn’t going away, they had no choice but to catch up.”

As a result, we’re seeing firms embrace cloud-based accounting technology and other app-based communication tools. They’re getting creative with how they meet with clients, collaborate with colleagues, and get their work done efficiently and effectively.

Increased employee trust

With most companies forced to move to a remote environment, employers had no choice but trust their employees to not only work, but also access confidential information from home. “Most public accounting firms already had flexible work from home plans, but for many other firms—especially in private industry—this was the first time where they had to devise a formal policy,” says Michael. “While some may prefer their in-office culture, it has become clear that employees can effectively work from home. In terms of accounting trends, this is a major one!”

More remote hiring

As a result, many firms have started to hire remotely—something they would have never considered prior to the pandemic. “New hires typically need to prove they can be trusted before they are granted access to company financials or given permission to work from home,” says Michael. “This mindset if shifting as an increased workload requires employers to make key hiring decisions as we enter a new year. Remote hiring not only ensures firms have the staff on hand to meet business demands, but also increases their access to top talent from other parts of the country.”

To take advantage of these remote opportunities and evolving accounting trends, be able to highlight your ability to learn quickly and work independently on in interviews. Read also: 9 Ways To Ace A Remote Interview Process in Accounting

Evolving office culture

While most firms have moved to a total remote work environment during the pandemic, you can expect to see three types of cultures emerge once this is over:

  1. 100% remote: Firms that have the technology to fully operate in a remote environment without risking efficiency or company culture are going to leave their office space or downsize considerably.
  2. Full-time return to the office: On the other hand, there are many companies that think there is a real down-side to remote work when it comes to productivity, company culture, training and development, and building relationships with colleagues. These firms will eventually plan on requiring all their employees to come back to the office full-time.
  3. Hybrid-remote: Firms that have proven they can operate in a remote capacity efficiently, but want to cultivate in-person relationships will opt to go for a hybrid-remote work schedule.

While firms have not committed to post-pandemic office plans, as accounting trends evolve, this does leave accounting professionals with a lot of options in the future! If the office culture your employer is offering does not meet your needs or you would prefer to try something else out, there will be plenty of different opportunities to explore.

More competition for jobs

Due to the pandemic, some accounting professionals will face increased competition when job searching. “Higher unemployment, a boost in remote hiring, and the flexibility to interview from home may make your job search more competitive than you’ve been accustomed to,” Michael says. “If you’re looking for a new job, it’s important to take the steps to ensure you stand out and make a strong impression.” Read also: 3 Accounting Skills You Need For Career Development

The good news is that hiring is also picking back up and some skillsets in accounting remain in high demand. “A lot of hiring came to a complete halt at the start of the pandemic,” says Michael. “As firms acclimate to our new normal and business picks up, we’re seeing positive hiring trends. What we’re observing in quarter four leads us to believe that hiring will return to more normal levels in the new year.”

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