Talent + Tech = a match made in heaven

As we mark nearly a full year since COVID became reality and #teambreakwater started working primarily from home, we’re reflecting on the many changes we’ve encountered over the last 12 months. Almost overnight we shifted from mainly a collaborative, lively, office-based environment to sitting at kitchen tables with laptops making sure our clients knew they were cared for and their accounting was safe.

Fortunately, we were ahead of the curve. As early adopters of cloud technology, we were able to shift our locations with minimal disruption to our clients and team. #teambreakwater is used to working with cutting edge accounting tools, and most of our systems and tools were already web based and secure. Our accounting stars helped many of our clients weather the pandemic, and #teambreakwater continued to grow. We welcomed new hires and new clients to our ranks. We figured out new ways to collaborate and continue to “get sh*t done.”

And as ahead of the curve as we were, one thing remained clear … in our new, uncertain environment; technology skills and a comfort in learning new systems were not just important, but an absolute must for our organization.

While our existing team already had expertise in our tech stack, we knew we would have to approach hiring and training in a new way. Where we were once sitting together for training and shadowing, we’re now sharing screens. Where candidates would meet us face to face at our office, we’re now sending Zoom invitations and apologizing for our dogs barking.

And we’re not alone. In its “The Practice of Now 2020” survey, Sage reported a few relevant findings: 

  • 83% of accountants agree that new technologies and a culture of digitalization means they have had to invest more, and quickly, in order to keep pace with the market.
  • 84% of our survey respondents agreed that as ‘digital natives,’ prospective employees from younger generations have progressive expectations, attitudes and talents that will need to be reflected and nurtured by accounting firms if they hope to attract them.
  • 82% of Sage’s surveyed clients report their “expectations of accountants and bookkeepers have widened to include services such as advising on relevant finance and accounting technologies.”

At breakwater, to match our new, virtual environment, we’ve moved our interview process entirely online. While somewhat awkward at first, many of our meetings are via Zoom, and we’ve found it helpful to set that expectation from the beginning.

We’re recording many of our training sessions. We’ve found that the recordings are not only helpful for reminders on how to complete a task, but also for reviewing the content, discussion points, and body language of the participants. This is helping us spot inefficiencies in our delivery and content faster than if we had not recorded the session.

And like many other companies, we’re leveraging more online communication tools. Messaging apps like Slack and the collaborative features of Google apps are helping us avoid getting bogged down in meetings while keeping work and conversations flowing.

What are some ways your team and hiring process are adapting to the workplace changes the ongoing pandemic has caused?

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