Although COVID-19 may never completely disappear at this point as the virus has become part of the world's new normal, many pandemic-era protocols have disappeared since the height of the pandemic throughout 2020 and 2021.
One thing that hasn't gone away, though, is the desire to work from home. A Forbes report from February 2022 noted:
2021 was the year the world stayed remote, and 90% of the 2,050 full-time remote workers surveyed said they were as productive or more productive working remotely, compared to when they toiled in the office. Another 74% said after the pandemic, working from home is better for their mental health, and 84% reported that working remotely after the pandemic would make them happier, with many even willing to take a pay cut.
While some industries, like software development and graphic design, have long allowed for remote work, this is a new ideal in many other fields, including accounting.
CPAs, however, are loving the newfound flexibility of at-home work, and their willingness to join the global Great Resignation proves it.
The Journal of Accountancy recently interviewed Kristy Illuzzi, a principal of SME/SMP and Research at IFAC, the International Federation of Accountants, who shared her thoughts on the shift in work-life balance within the accounting and tax preparation industry.
When asked how the Great Resignation -- an ongoing economic trend in which employees are voluntarily quitting their jobs when they don't offer the perks they desire -- has impacted accountants, Illuzzi said:
"You were forced to work from home almost no matter what industry you are in, and I think it caused a lot of people also to just rethink their priorities. They were home, spending more time with family, perhaps caring for ill family members, small children that were home, and priorities shifted. And I think a lot of people got used to that, and in some cases they are now demanding the flexibility and the ability to continue to do their jobs that way."
Illuzzi continued, discussing the shift in priorities that occurred when accountants were allowed to work remotely, most of them for the very first time:
"So we are starting to see in a lot of parts of the world things opening back up. In some cases you have firms that are now requiring people to come back to the office, and in some cases they are having people revolt, if you will, and essentially saying, I got used to this work from home, this flexibility, this type of environment, and I'm not going to go back to the office, and in some cases they are going to places that will allow for that flexibility."
"In some cases you also have people, I think that their priorities shifted. They might have gone into a different or have different passions and decided that accounting just was not the industry for them so there are some just leaving industry altogether."
As the push for remote and hybrid work continues in the accounting industry, major players have had to adapt.
Big Four firm Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) famously began allowing long-term work-from-home options in September 2021. Now, small and mid-size firms nationwide are following suit.