Always-On CPAs Demand Better Connectivity

business-traveler-at-airport-email-size.jpgMobile CPAs clamor for upgrades to stay competitive. Join the conversation. Take the survey. Get the answers.

By Rick Telberg
For the Finance Executive

Mark Hodell, director of audit and management services at a manufacturer of furniture and electronic assemblies in Jasper, Ind., spends up to 10 hours a week working from outside his company's offices. And he's quite pleased that he can.

Like many other accountants working in business and industry, Hodell rates the ability to work out of the office as an important ingredient in a achieving both a successful career and happy home life. He relies on a smartphone-the souped-up, e-mail-equipped version of the no-frills traditional cellphone-to increase his personal productivity, improve communication with colleagues, and balance his work life and personal life. He says it "allows more flexibility in your life."

Still, Hodell struggles with boundaries in this infinitely wireless age. "With these devices comes the expectation that you are always available without a division between work and your personal life," he noted in a Bay Street Group study of the mobile workforce in the accounting profession.

The Bay Street Group study found that while professionals in business and industry spend slightly less time working outside their offices than public practitioners, business and industry CPAs expect more from their devices and service providers.

But finance and accounting professionals are battling just as hard to find the right balance between being always accessible and having some healthy downtime.

"If you have such a device, you are expected to always be ‘on,'" said Louise Gold, a vice president with a high-technology company in Los Angeles. She'd like to "change expectations about work/home hours."

Business calls at home must be fairly common for Drew Godson, director of cost management for a truck manufacturer in Guelph, Ontario, whose mobile workforce wish is to "reduce tension in the household when a business issue does arise."

To be sure, corporate accountants had plenty of other complaints about the out-of-office work experience.

High percentages of accountants from both sides of the profession complained about their phone companies' dropped calls. Typical of the business and industry sentiment, one middle manager noted that he's just waiting for his cell phone contract to expire in order to replace the service.

Accountants, like many professionals these days, are just learning the advantages of these new technologies. And, with the new technologies, some new social customs and boundaries need to be developed too. Or you can just ignore the boss's phone calls every once in a while and blame the phone company.

JOIN THE SURVEY: How do CPAs stay connected? Get the answers.

COMMENT: Questions, rants or raves? Send comments to Rick Telberg.

Copyright © 2008 CPA Trendlines/BSG LLC. All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission. First published by the AICPA.

3 Responses to “Always-On CPAs Demand Better Connectivity”

  1. George Beard

    Rick;

    What concerns me and other CEO’s that I have spoken to is that some CPAs are not using POTS. Plain Old Telephone Service calls are analog and are protected against unwarranted searches.

    Conversely, cell phone data is recorded and the cell phone serves as an ankle bracelet. If the handset is a CPA’s and not a lawyer’s (“work product doctrine”) the CPA’s conversations, spreadsheets and all else transmitted are not only stored, they are “out of the bag” unless encrypted.

    CEO’s consider it unprofessional not to show considerable consideration for clients who, after all, pay CPAs their consideration.

    In your next survey, Rick, will you please ask CPAs if they believe encrypting cellular voice and data is more considerate of their client than having it stored and subject to unwarranted search?

    Ask them too if they call from their personal computers using P2P-encryption (Skype) or are just too inconsiderate.

    It has also been called to my attention that most CPAs are not considerate enough to use open e-mail encryption – GNU Privacy Guard’s PKI/PGP in GPG4win. GNUPG alias GPG is very easy to use under the free e-mail (Enigmail) plug-in for the open Firefox browser.

    Another open (free) program, GPGee works like a charm inside MS Explorer or Power Desk to encrypt any file. It is distributed in the free download along with GPG4win.

    Every CPA should make discipline their friend and show professional consideration for their clients.

    A survey can find out if there are still a few holdouts.

    I would love to have their answers to you survey because, you see I equate privacy and security with professionalism and even in this new millennium, there could remain among your fraternity a disrespectfully derelict bunch of slackers.

    That’s what other CEOs are telling me. I could not possibly comment without your survey results, Rick

    Most sincerely;

    George Beard
    Chairman, KeepTrack USA

  2. Casprogrp

    Communication devices are indeed great help in managing our schedule and contacting important people. Today’s revolutionary technological advances aid professionals in maintaining a balance professional and personal life.

  3. Bill Sheridan

    “But finance and accounting professionals are battling just as hard to find the right balance between being always accessible and having some healthy downtime.” THAT’S the hard part of working in an always-on environment. I work out of my home, and it’s terribly easy to be always-on at the expense of more important things. Here’s a great example: I’m in my home office typing this comment, and my 5-year-old daughter is outside riding her bike and soaking up the first warm day of the season. Think I’ll go join her. If only the decision were that easy ALL of the time …