Disconnect woes plague BV firms using remote staff

BVWireIssue #258-4
March 27, 2024

practice management and growth
valuation practice management, information technology, artificial intelligence

“Loss of human interaction” is the biggest drawback of a remote or hybrid work arrangement, cited by over half (53%) of BV firms recently polled. Other concerns include communication problems (18%) and productivity loss (11%). On the plus side, 43% of firms cited an improved work-life balance as the biggest advantage of a remote or hybrid setup, and 21% pointed to less commuting time.

Do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages? BV firms apparently think that they do, given that 89% of them are either on a hybrid or fully remote arrangement. But some experts warn that this is not the way to go. “The way we’re working is not working,” stated Penny Zenker (The Focusologist), during her keynote at the AICPA & CIMA Forensic and Valuation Services (FVS) Conference in Las Vegas this past November. She said that “disconnection is one of our greatest threats” and urged the valuation firm managers in the audience to address it and make it a priority to improve employee engagement.

Ideas: Bringing on new staff members who are remote poses a particular challenge, and BV firms are using increased communication to meet the challenge. Some firms require a period of in-office time of one to two weeks when a new hire joins the team. Many firms use “frequent and continued communications” for a new hire, and some start it weeks before the new hire comes on board. Several firms use a “buddy” system, i.e., assign someone specific the new hires can contact for general questions, concerns, and guidance.

The challenge is even greater with a new hire with no experience. Some firms say they won’t get into this situation, and others who have tried it report a “bad experience,” vowing “never to hire an entry-level remote employee again.”

This was the latest in our monthly “Two-Minute Practice Builder” surveys, and we thank those of you who participated. We will have another survey in next week’s issue.

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