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Audits: Remote control or the personal touch?

While the pandemic facilitated different ways of working, Kevin Hodgetts looks at the pros and cons of an on-site vs remote audit and explains why a tailored hybrid solution can give you the best advantage.

The days of a team of auditors swarming into your office for a week once a year became a dim and distant memory during 2020 and most of 2021. Covid changed the working landscape in so many ways. In order to make a difficult time more bearable we found a lot of clients did one of two things (and often a mixture of both). Firstly, they looked for the positives of the situation and, when it comes to remote audits, there are undeniably some. No auditor invading your space, no time wasted during an on site visit that could be spent on more value adding tasks, and less money spent on auditor travel expenses. The second approach we encountered was that our clients realised the pandemic was an extraordinary time and tried to maintain the belief that we would get out the other side and things would return to normal.

A hybrid approach

While Covid is still with us, 2022 has indeed seen the world open up again and working life return to something resembling what it was before. It also presents us with an opportunity to cherry pick the best bits of a workplace model to make it the very best experience for both us and our clients. While we haven’t completely ditched remote working, we’ve been keen to get teams back into the office, especially for our trainees. I would call it a hybrid approach with a bias towards getting back together in person.

The on-site advantage

We think that it’s really important and, notwithstanding the benefits I mentioned earlier, we believe it especially applies to audits as well. Our preference is to get back on site with you, if not for all of the time, then at least for some. There really is no substitute for face-to-face communication and you get a lot from body language, both as the auditor or a client. Important details can be lost in translation with emails and we believe it’s really important to be able to have conversations in person along with the chance to pick up on any anomalies as and when they crop up. Also, being on site enables us to focus attention on that particular client and that particular job. The danger when you’re working remotely all the time is that you’re being pulled in different directions by different people and you end up juggling and spinning more plates.

The best of both worlds

Of course, having the back-up of remote working and making the most of some of the technological advances that the pandemic accelerated means we have the best of both worlds.

More and more businesses keep their documents electronically, and we can get remote access to IT systems at any time and from anywhere. We have a cloud based portal which is effectively a management system to the audit.  Everything sits there whether we’re working away from the client or whether we’re on site with the client everything is done through that portal. It helps create a proper collaborative experience because it is a project management tool for both us and the client. It also means that there is less stress if someone on the client’s team needs to take annual leave while we’re conducting the audit, they can access the portal to see the exact situation in real time.

The importance of feeling important

We’ve come out of the pandemic with a much stronger hybrid model in the way that we work, but we don’t really see remote work ever fully replacing face-to-face contact with clients. Ultimately, we want to provide our clients with superlative service and value for money, but we also want them to know how important they are to us and, rather like those annoying recorded messages while you’re on hold, it’s almost impossible to make someone feel important over the phone or through a computer screen.

Interested in finding out more? Get in touch with our team today:

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