Remote onboarding has gained significant relevance in recent years for accounting and finance firms seeking to hire offshore accountants. This approach offers substantial advantages, including cost savings and access to a broader talent pool, especially in the context of a tightening job market.
Effectively integrating new hires into a company's culture, policies, procedures, and systems, all without the need for physical office presence, presents undeniable challenges. This is particularly true when a company is on the verge of rapid expansion and needs to execute the process efficiently and swiftly.
To address these challenges, accounting and finance firms must employ the right tools and strategies to establish a seamless and successful remote onboarding experience.
The Advantages of Building a Remote Accounting Team
Building a remote accounting team can offer many benefits for accounting and finance firms, such as:
By hiring accountants offshore, you can reduce your labor costs, as well as your overhead expenses such as office rent, utilities, equipment, and travel.
According to a study by Global Workplace Analytics, a typical employer can save an average of $11,000 per year for every employee who works remotely half of the time. Moreover, you can easily find highly qualified accountants in regions with lower labor costs, allowing you to reduce your overall operational expenses by up to 60%.
Access to Global Talent Pool
One of the most significant advantages of building a remote accounting team is the access to a global talent pool. By expanding your hiring reach beyond your local area, you can tap into a diverse range of skills and expertise. This is particularly beneficial when seeking specialized accounting professionals or when you need to scale your team quickly.
You can also benefit from having a diverse team that can offer different perspectives, insights, and ideas. You can hire talent from different cultural backgrounds and regions, fostering diversity within your organization. This diversity can bring fresh perspectives and ideas to your accounting processes.
Productivity and efficiency
Remote work promotes a better work-life balance for your team members. Accountants can work from the comfort of their homes, eliminating the need for long commutes and providing more time for personal pursuits. This, in turn, can lead to increased job satisfaction and productivity.
By offering remote work opportunities, you can improve your employee satisfaction and retention by providing them with more work-life balance, comfort, convenience, and happiness. A study by Owl Labs found that remote workers are 29% more likely to be happy in their jobs than on-site workers.
Best Practices to Build a Successful Remote Team
Building a remote accounting team is not just about hiring the right talent; it also requires creating an environment conducive to productivity and collaboration. Here are some best practices to help you build a successful remote team:
Clear Communication Channels
Establish clear communication channels to ensure that your remote team members can easily reach out to one another and share information. Utilize instant messaging tools, video conferencing, and project management software to facilitate seamless communication.
Define Roles and Responsibilities
Clearly define each team member's roles and responsibilities. This ensures that everyone understands their tasks and objectives, reducing confusion and duplicative efforts. Create job descriptions and project outlines to provide clarity.
Set clear expectations for performance, deadlines, and availability. Remote team members should know what is expected of them and when they are expected to be online and available for work. Consistency in expectations is key to success.
Provide Training and Resources
Invest in training and provide the necessary resources for your remote accounting team to excel. This may include access to accounting software, ongoing professional development, and support from senior team members.
Foster Team Bonding
Remote teams can sometimes feel isolated. To counteract this, organize virtual team-building activities and meetings. Encourage team members to interact socially, even if it's through online games or casual conversations.
Leverage technology to streamline processes and collaboration. Implement cloud-based accounting software, document-sharing platforms, and project management tools that facilitate remote work.
Top 5 Best Tools for Remote Onboarding
To make your remote onboarding process more efficient and effective, you need to use the best tools that can help you automate workflows, streamline tasks, collect data, provide training, communicate feedback, and measure outcomes.
Here are our top 5 picks for the best tools for remote onboarding:
Video conferencing tools like Zoom are essential for remote onboarding. Conduct virtual orientation sessions, one-on-one meetings, and training sessions with ease. Zoom's screen-sharing and recording features are particularly useful for explaining processes and procedures to new hires.
Slack is a versatile messaging platform that can enhance communication during remote onboarding. Create dedicated channels for onboarding topics, and encourage new hires to ask questions and share their experiences. Slack's integration with other apps allows you to connect it with your chosen HR and onboarding software for a seamless experience.
Paylocity is a cloud-based solution that can help you streamline employee onboarding and many administrative tasks as well. With Paylocity, you can create customized onboarding workflows that can automate data collection from new hires; generate electronic forms such as contracts; assign tasks such as orientation sessions; send reminders; integrate with payroll; store documents securely; report compliance; etc.
Paylocity also offers features such as performance management, learning management, benefits administration, time and attendance, etc. Paylocity costs start at $8 per month per user.
ProProfs Employee Training
ProProfs employee training software is the top choice for companies across industries and niches. This tool helps you create an online employee handbook to familiarize new hires with your firm’s work dynamics, policies, vision, mission, and, most importantly, the role that remote employees are going to play in your organization. You don’t want your new hires to get bombarded with emails on the very first day of their joining. So, it’s best to offer them a platform that provides them all the relevant information they need to get started.
ProProfs employee training software also helps you create online courses and quizzes that can help you train your remote accountants on various topics such as accounting software, tax laws, financial reporting, etc. You can also track their progress and performance with reports and analytics. ProProfs employee training software costs start at $0.10 per learner per month5.
Whale is a knowledge management platform that can help you onboard and train your remote accountants by creating and sharing bite-sized content such as videos, articles, checklists, etc. With Whale, you can create a centralized knowledge base that can store all the information and resources that your remote accountants need to know and access.
You can also create interactive onboarding guides that can walk them through the steps and tasks they need to complete. Whale also integrates with tools such as Slack, Gmail, Zoom, etc., to make communication and collaboration easier. Whale costs start at $49 per month for up to 10 users6.
SAP Litmos is a learning management system (LMS) that can help you onboard and train your remote accountants by creating and delivering engaging online courses and programs. With SAP Litmos, you can create courses using various formats such as videos, audio, text, images, etc., and add quizzes, surveys, assessments, etc., to test their knowledge and skills.
You can also assign courses to your remote accountants based on their roles, levels, goals, etc., and track their completion and progress with reports and dashboards. SAP Litmos also offers features such as gamification, badges, certificates, leaderboards, etc., to motivate and reward your remote accountants. SAP Litmos costs start at $4 per user per month7.
Acuvate is an artificial intelligence (AI) platform that can help you onboard and train your remote accountants by providing them with a virtual assistant that can answer their queries, guide them through processes, provide feedback, etc.
With Acuvate, you can create a chatbot that can interact with your remote accountants via text or voice using natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML). You can also customize the chatbot to suit your company’s brand, tone, style, etc., and integrate it with tools such as Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business, SharePoint Online, etc., to make it accessible and convenient for your remote accountants. Acuvate costs start at $1 per user per month.
Tools for Onboarding Offshore Teams
This is a web app that allows you to keep track of where and when your team members are. You can create a team page that shows the current time, location, and availability of each team member in a simple and visual way. This can help you plan meetings, deadlines, and collaborations across different time zones. You can also see the team’s working hours and overlap with other time zones. Timezone.io is free to use and used by companies such as Buffer, Trello, and Discourse.
World Time Buddy
This is a website that helps you compare and convert time zones across the world. You can add multiple locations to your dashboard and see the current time and date in each one. You can also drag and drop the time slider to see the corresponding time in other locations. This can help you schedule meetings, calls, and events with your offshore team members without confusion or hassle. World Time Buddy also offers features such as calendar integration, email reminders, widgets, etc. World Time Buddy costs start at $2.99 per month.
This is a video recording and sharing tool that helps you communicate asynchronously with your offshore team members. You can record your screen, camera, or both, and add voice and annotations to create personalized videos. You can then share your videos via email, chat, or link with your team members who can watch them at their own convenience. This can help you onboard your offshore team members by providing them with welcome messages, introductions, instructions, feedback, etc. Loom costs start at $8 per month per user.
Streamline the signing of employment contracts, NDAs, and other important documents with this electronic signature platform.
With DocuSign, you can:
- Send and sign documents online from any device and any location
- Create customized workflows that automate data collection, form generation, task assignment, and reminders
- Integrate with popular apps such as Gmail, Google Drive, Outlook, Dropbox, Microsoft Word, etc.
- Ensure the security, legality, and compliance of your signatures and transactions
- Access features designed for teams, organizations, and enterprises such as centralized billing, account roles and permissions, custom branding, signer authentication, etc.
Ensure that communication and documentation from your team members are free from grammatical errors and typos, especially if they come from other countries with different languages. Grammarly is a tool that provides writing suggestions, tone detection, and spell check. With Grammarly, you can:
It’s very easy to use and it integrates with almost every dashboard tool to use on the go.
- Catch grammatical, spelling, punctuation, and fluency errors in your writing
- Find compelling alternatives to overused words or clichés
- Rewrite hard-to-read sentences for clarity and conciseness
- Adjust the mood and attitude of your writing to suit your audience and purpose
- Ensure your writing is respectful and inclusive of diverse perspectives
- Check your writing for plagiarism and generate citations in various styles
- Use generative AI to help you write, rewrite, ideate, and reply with simple prompts or at the click of a button
Remote onboarding for offshore accounting teams is a strategic move that offers numerous benefits to accounting and finance firms. By embracing the advantages of building a remote accounting team and implementing best practices, you can create an environment conducive to success.
Furthermore, the selection of the right tools, as showcased in our top five choices, can significantly enhance your remote onboarding process. Remember that the key to success lies in continuous improvement, adaptability, and a commitment to providing a positive and inclusive remote work experience.
As you embark on your journey to build a remote accounting team, remember that the remote work landscape is continually evolving. Staying informed about the latest technologies and best practices is essential to remain competitive and deliver the highest level of service to your clients.