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4 Features of the Ideal CA Office

 

4 Features of the Ideal CA Office
And how the pandemic has affected them

When you hear about a Chartered Accountant and the nature of their work, a very clear image forms in your mind- A highly qualified and specialized individual in a full but tidy office stacked with files, bills, receipts, and documents, structured and organized in a way that only they can navigate. Needless to say, a CA may be very keen about their office space preferences.


But what exactly does an Accounting Firm or Chartered Accountant look for in an office? What are the needs that an office needs to fulfill? Have these needs changed since the pandemic and lockdown?

Here’s what we found out after speaking to a number of professionals:

The unifying theme?
Every practicing CA or Accounting firm, first and foremost, needs an office setup that is ‘Neat, Clean and Organized’.

This is considered in the following aspects of office space:

1. Layout & Design

Design and layout require attention to detail, as the inadequacies of the same only become glaringly evident when in use. The office needs to be somewhat spacious, to avoid a feeling of being cramped even when meeting with clients. Privacy is a big must, both for focussed work and productive meetings. Lack of noise and disturbance-free locations are often a priority. A simple broad desk will suffice as long as ample storage space is accounted for. It helps to have this storage be easily accessible from the desk. 

2. Atmosphere

This covers the individual's experience while working in an office- the details that make an impact on you in the long term if not handled with care. Lighting is always a priority and natural light is always a welcome bonus. Loud colours within the space are generally avoided. White and off-white are usually preferred with non-reflective paints. Temperature control and air conditioning become essential for long work hours. 

3. Seating Arrangement

When your work requires being seated for prolonged periods, you need comfortable seating, keeping in mind ergonomics, and physical health. Ideally, the seating should be adjustable. Back-aches are a common ailment these days, due to poor seating. There also needs to be adequate seating for clients or collaborators, usually two seats across from the desk. Flexible setups can also be useful for accounting firms. The whole setup and furniture need to be arranged such that the area has some breathing room and is pleasant to the eye. Making an impression also matters. 

4. Storage Space

As mentioned before, the very nature of a CA’s work involves carefully keeping records and documents of their clients. This is especially important when an audit is being conducted at the CA’s own office. Add to this, the variety of relevant literature, case histories, and publications that the CA may need for reference means that a well-designed and sufficient system of storage is sought after. It also needs to be easily accessible and preferably at an arm's length from the desk. 

This is perhaps the most important factor when it comes to office space for CA’s and the pandemic has had a direct effect on it. Many mid-sized firms have begun using cloud storage for their data but the transition is difficult and cumbersome.

The pandemic has definitely put a wrench in the routines and work habits established by practiced professionals. We’re all struggling to adapt to this new environment. However, our basic office needs have not really changed- only the circumstances. ‘Work from home’ may be a feasible option for a few professions; even if just as a short-term solution, however, is it at all possible for CA’s and Accounting firms to do the same? Is it a better option? Are there any new needs that need to be addressed?

Below are testimonies from seasoned Accounts/Finance Managers and Chartered Accountants on how the pandemic has affected their day to day work life and how they have adapted.

Mr. Madhava

Finance/Accounts Manager

XYZ Company

As an Accounts Manager - Can Working From Home be a better option?
As a financial advisor, I would say yes, it is a welcoming option but being an Administrator with a team, we need an office space to work. It is a concern when working with a team as there should be coordination with everyone. If it is lacking, the task cannot be accomplished.

As a manager; yes an office space is a must for me to work as the client’s needs are the priority. At the end of the day, Accounting is all paperwork. It plays a vital role in my profession and I cannot handle the work alone. I need my team to support me sometimes. Due to this, having an office set up and office support is a must. The nature of our work is designed this way. I need to be physically present in the office as said our work relies on papers, files, and documents. 

Working online and storing data online would work to some extent but not up to offline work.

Are you Comfortable Working From Home or do you need an office?

Yes, we need an office. Earlier in March, due to stringent lockdown, we had to adapt to the ‘Work from Home’ culture but it was very difficult for us to continue our work. In the long run, we cannot adapt to Working From Home and have no way of getting comfortable with it.

The major firms are more likely to be using cloud-based technology, like cloud-based document management and online client portals and it is successful too. In the near future, online technology may be the new face of the business, but for now, offline work is necessary for us. 

For example, when we raise an invoice to a government or any other agency, they demand a hard copy of the invoice. Sometimes they don't consider the soft copy of an invoice, especially government agencies, who strictly ask for hard copies. Only with this will they release the funds, so we need a proper office to raise an invoice and submit it, not a home office setup.

In another scenario, banks will not accept anything through the mail and ask for hard copies of documents to be submitted with the company seal. Doing this from home is not very productive. 

In case I have to send any statutory form to the auditor/bank or government office, the company seal is mandatory and needs to be submitted as a hard copy.

So, in my opinion, I need an office to work and to be more productive because my work is highly dependent on Physical bills and documents. If not daily, at least thrice a week we need to get back to the office. It is difficult to carry huge bags, files, and documents from office to home and Vice Versa.



Mr. Yogesh K Shah

Chartered Accountant

Founder - Trof Training

As a Chartered Accountant - Can Working From Home be a better option?

Work From Home sounds better. However, during work from home, there is a lot of time taken up by the same work which could have been completed easily in office hours. Especially the discussions.

So while it looks better, the fact is you end up losing out on efficiency. Again that is one aspect of it. There are a lot of things which get easily completed by visiting clients which also takes a hit by work from home.

While this is one aspect, there are other things like making a report/ memo/ note, etc. For these things, work from home is like a boon where there is no much disturbance. So while work from home is better, it has to be carefully chosen on days where the work is of that manner. Not all the work can be completed just by sitting at home.

Are you Comfortable Working From Home or do you need an office?

The office certainly is more resonating than at home. So as mentioned in the first question, the office is the best option with some sort of mandatory days for work from home. For instance, 5 days in a month because there are 100% days where you want to work at your best.

In that way, you reduce both pressures of going up to the office and get a blend of both. But it should not be specific days. The days should be left to be chosen by individuals and the teams.

What are the Pros and Cons of Working from Home?

Efficiency for teamwork decreases but individual work increases.

Travel time reducing is a huge saviour in the work from home scenario. This was one of the biggest headaches. 

Collaboration is better at the office than at home. It takes more time to collaborate in the work from home scenarios.  

Working from home is a great solution as it helps in a lot of ways. But then again, it also matters on the individual work portfolio and client requirements. 



Anonymous

As a Chartered Accountant - Can Working From Home be a better option?

Not at all. As the nature of this profession requires,
Visits to client’s place to collect current files
Surprise checks and physical verification
Departmental works, like meeting officers to drop a case
Meetings with prospective clients (face to face is preferred)

Working from home has become the biggest barrier. Work has no progress except for back end works like accounting and others. We are unable to achieve satisfaction and work for the coming year has doubled as people working from home have caused an increase in loopholes.

Are you Comfortable Working From Home or do you need an office?

No, it’s not comfortable to work in a pandemic for this long. Two months were fine but it's more than 4 months (the lockdown began on 23rd march 2020) so it’s not comfortable.
Firstly, we’re unable to complete assignments as it requires meeting people which is not allowed. Thus, our payments are at hold as an assignment is due for completion. Secondly, Seasonal Business expansion (eg. IT and Tax audits) is almost nil as most of the major players/sectors are temporarily shut.

What are the Pros and Cons of Working from Home?

Family time is a major pro. The balance between work life and personal life is achieved.
Cons like I said, Payments are at hold (usually it is assignment basis) and expansion is a dream in 2020.


The above testimony from industry professionals, clearly states the need for an office. Working from home, from such a profession is preventing them from being productive. However, we must remember that the safety of our families and ourselves is always paramount. So what if there was another option? One that addresses the need for an office as well as the need for safety and privacy?

Golden Square offers Serviced Private Offices for precisely this reason. Being designed as private, quiet spaces tuned to productivity means that you control the degree of contact you have with the outside world. Our dedicated cabins check off every requirement on what makes an ideal CA’s office and the level of flexibility provided is guaranteed to accommodate any other needs one may have. This level of flexibility is also perfect during uncertain times, as it allows you to expand or downsize depending on your current situation. Having a registered, professional business address also assures you a level of certainty and stability. Competitive prices charged on a monthly basis allows you even more security. 

Learn more about how we can help you with your unique and specific needs.
Just call David: +91 99864 52888 for instant solutions. 


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