Local lockdowns – how tech holds key for firms to be flexible

September furlough update
By Steve Cox | 10th September 2020 | 14 min read

Local lockdowns, fluctuating restrictions, quarantine, self-isolation, and rapidly changing rules and legislation around social distancing and how we interact.

The landscape of the immediate future lies littered with these challenges for businesses. This is the next normal.

At least now, we have a much clearer idea of what to expect, unlike when the pandemic hit.

Yet, it’s an understatement to say that a huge degree of uncertainty hangs over businesses – and life in general.

That’s not to even remind ourselves of the once again looming prospect of a no-deal Brexit in January 2021, which adds another huge layer of potential obstacles for firms.

How do businesses cope with uncertainty?

We know we live in uncertain times, but how can we mitigate the difficulties that this brings?

We recently surveyed nearly 1,200 IRIS customers to uncover the biggest challenges so far and what their priorities are in the coming months.

And from this we can see that a significant part of the answer to the question above lies in technology.

A substantial portion of the top barriers that accountants identified related to their IT systems. One in five identified coordinating staff/teams remotely as a major difficulty since COVID hit, with 19% pointing to both hardware and software problems linked to staff working from home.

Discover the full results of our survey in our free report, to be downloaded here.

Can firms switch workplace at a moment's notice?

With local lockdowns set to be a continuing feature of our lives, and the need to be flexible and change location at the drop of a hat, these challenges seem likely to exist for a long while to come.

Indeed, 22% of accountants said moving to a cloud or hosted desktop to enable flexible working is leading their to-do lists. Another 15% added that investment in automated technology was a key priority in the next stage. The same percentage highlighted increasing their web presence.

These results fit the pattern of our research overall, which shows the primary challenges facing firms are controllable – if accountants make the right preparations.

What are the key solutions?

Improved ways to communicate with clients, work flexibly and remotely, automate processes and build web presence are key. And the solutions primarily involve investment in robust, sustainable technological infrastructure, such as effective systems to enable remote working.

This is key for accountants to thrive throughout the next normal and beyond. It will help to ensure that if the worst happens, they are prepared and will be able to react.

In the next phase, every small technological advantage an organisation has gleaned from their COVID-19 response will place them in a stronger position to succeed and thrive in a post-lockdown world.

What else did the survey uncover?

Our report also reveals:

  • How confident accountants are feeling about the future of their business
  • How long accountants expect it take to return to pre-pandemic trading levels
  • How accountants have fared since lockdown
  • What their biggest challenges have been

To discover the answers, read our report in full. It’s free to download.

Get your copy of ‘Accountancy in the next normal – thriving amid rapid change’ here.