21

May 2020

Australian accountants working at home-is the myth of the full time home worker finally over

Australian accountants working at home: Is the myth of the full time home worker finally over?

By: Odyssey Outsourcing
Tags: accountants, Ad hoc work, Australian Accounting, work life balance, working from home

For those of us that have been trying to work from home, while at the same time keeping a glancing eye on our children also doing school from at home, there must have been some questions in the backs of our minds, especially related to the fees we are paying for our children’s education. Regardless of whether our children are in private (direct payment) or public (indirect/taxes) schools, there is a duty of care for the teaching service to be provided at the best level possible.

But more directly, from first hand observation, we’ve seen children who are home-schooled roll out of bed at 8:20 am, sign into google hangouts, and tick the yes I’m here box. Some classes have 9 out of 20 participants turn up. And what of the teaching. One student reported over-hearing her teacher listening to a video of another teacher at the same school, after the teacher gave the students a session project but was online in case of students need. Another teacher pre-recorded and released a video to get ahead of classes, but was available on google hangouts. Another teacher was no longer in the country, instead choosing to return to her homeland, and due to time differences was pre-recording sessions. This begs the question: if you aren’t paying for face-to-face (or online equivalent), then what are you actually paying for.

Many private schools are trying to maintain a façade that remote teaching is “as good as” face-to-face teaching, though probably more concerned that they have pre-committed to salaries of teachers, than the actual academic results.

So looking at the news, where the expectation is Australia’s cohorts finishing their HSC will expected to be facing less rigorous examinations, and comments that private schools (with more face to face time) will be at an advantage, there seems a common agreement that home schooling isn’t as good as on-site schooling. Perhaps it is the intention the pre-HSC students will work extra hard to make up for the missing schooling.

But certainly the universities must be applying appropriate pressure to allow the release of the next HSC graduates into their ever more expensive university courses, especially with the overseas students missing from the fee paying base.

So if we’ve been misled as to the actual efficiency of home schooling, it’s hard to imagine the pundits (whoever they are in this unusual black swan event) giving their expert opinion on the “death of the office”.

One question perhaps relates to the efficiency of staff. If staff are only legally required to work 38 hours a week, what happens to the “to and from” travel time. Is that used to make up for inefficiencies in working? Likely not.

It seems more likely that the inefficiencies of home work are sucked into the financials of the firm, and spat out as a reduction in profit.

This makes an argument for the job worker, being paid for output and not for turning up to that zoom meeting. Certainly the owners of the companies of the offshore labour force engaged on a full-time basis must be slightly nervous at work-from-home arrangements, having for years explained work-from-home workforce have security issues, privacy issues etc. Strangely these matters have been now swept under the magic carpet under obligatory work-from-home arrangements. We guess if everyone is in the same boat and it’s leaking then the inefficiencies apply to the whole system.

Not quite, those firms which are engaged on a job basis, such as Odyssey, are still only paid for an end product, and the risk from inefficiencies from work-from-home arrangements are absorbed by the supplier, much like the foreign currency risk is met by the supplier who quotes in Australian dollars.

If you’d like to talk more about how Odyssey can assist with your work on an ad-hoc job basis then drop us a line.