Considerations for Professional Service Firms Working in a Remote Environment

In March, when most professional service firms were working tirelessly to get their employees operating in a remote environment as a result of COVID-19, internal controls, reconciliations, and review processes may have not been on the top of the priority list for most firms. Firms were focused on the safety of their employees, determining how to operate in a remote environment and within the state guidelines, how to continue to provide services to customers, how to continue to produce positive cash flow, and how to assist their customers in an uncertain time.

Since most firms have been operating in a remote environment for many months now, firms may want to revisit the processes that were originally in place prior to the shift in the work environment. Prior to working remotely, management took considerable action to ensure that there was proper segregation of duties, proper internal controls, and clearly defined roles for all employees surrounding financial reporting and interrelated cycles.  As firms continue to navigate through our new normal, processes should be revisited to ensure that they can still be followed while in a different environment.

Additionally, many employees are working with more distractions at home than previously within the office.  This can cause errors in a work product; therefore, it is more important than ever while working in the remote environment to ensure that there are adequate levels of review for all products being produced, whether that is reconciliation, analytical dashboards, reports, and more. Many firms have also instituted job sharing. If job sharing was introduced while working in a remote environment, firms should consider paying particular attention to those roles due to having two employees performing the job instead of one, which can lead to errors if the individuals performing the jobs are not consistently working in the same manner. Lastly, this is also a time to re-evaluate controls around email and data security as employees work remotely.  Please contact your Schneider Downs contact or any member of our team if you would like to discuss ways to improve internal controls, quality review processes, or data security in these ever-changing times.

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The Schneider Downs Our Thoughts On blog exists to create a dialogue on issues that are important to organizations and individuals. While we enjoy sharing our ideas and insights, we’re especially interested in what you may have to say. If you have a question or a comment about this article – or any article from the Our Thoughts On blog – we hope you’ll share it with us. After all, a dialogue is an exchange of ideas, and we’d like to hear from you. Email us at [email protected].

Material discussed is meant for informational purposes only, and it is not to be construed as investment, tax, or legal advice. Please note that individual situations can vary. Therefore, this information should be relied upon when coordinated with individual professional advice.

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