New Work Environment – Greg Cargin, Partner, CPA
No different than everyone else, Gardiner + Company has also had to change the way we are accustomed to working, and remaining productive, while adhering to social distancing. A few years ago, our firm began talking about providing more flexible scheduling and remote working arrangement for our staff. We weren’t good at it, or ready for this, but we have learned quickly some of the tools that are out there and the benefits that remote working provides.
We have been able to complete a substantial portion of our “normal” fieldwork while staying away from your facilities and working to keep everyone safe in performing a few audits already this spring. We have seen more clients upload information to our portal, send and communicate information through other electronic means, and better use the technology that is available. Internally, we have started using Microsoft Teams for instant messaging inside our firm, and Zoom for larger group meetings. I think some clients have even setup Teams within their system and included members of our firm as well. We have used many Zoom meetings from anything to discussions and sharing of research on the CARES Act and other income tax and legislative events related to COVID-19, to a couple Friday afternoon social events to keep our staff members engaged. I think we have learned a lot, and continue to evolve on how we are communicating internally and externally.
Right now, we are starting to see discussions of how the United States will move forward from this and “open up” the economy. I think the big question is: What will business look like and (more importantly) how will business be conducted in the future? I don’t think there is one correct answer, but I think most everyone is in agreement that things certainly won’t be the same as they were on March 1, 2020 and most likely won’t even be close in the near future. What does this mean for your business? You will continue to adapt by asking your employees, customers, and vendors to make certain changes in order to have a safe working environment for your staff and customers. Our business will do the same. I anticipate we will continue to work remotely where and when feasible, conduct more staff meetings and other collaborative meetings using technology, and adapt how we “need” to work as opposed to how we are “used” to working. I bet all Companies will do the same. Will you conduct more meetings via Zoom or other technology now that we have all gotten used to it?
Many of our clients have fiscal year ends later this summer, which is normally our busy time of the year. We generally try to get a jump start on many of those engagements by coming out to your facilities and doing some early planning and preliminary work. Not knowing what the next few months are going to bring, rest assured we are going to want to continue to remain engaged and working with you on being ready for your audits as they approach. We will be asking you to send us more information electronically, trying to do more audit work from afar. Certainly we can’t perform our inventory measurements and checks from our office, but we may ask to even do some of those differently than in the past, maybe using video-conferencing or face-time to see your inventory without having to visit every location. We will continue to best evaluate the way we do things and how that may need to change while still meeting the requirements of Generally Accepted Auditing Standards as well as meeting your expectations of Gardiner + Company.