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Navigating a Second Year of Auditing During COVID-19

When National Audits Group was established 15 years ago, no forecasting models could have ever predicted the events we’ve experienced since 2020. 

Whether it’s managing changes to COVID-19 disclosure notes in our clients’ financial reports, the impact of the work-from-home restrictions on our clients or obtaining financial information and our clients maintaining adequate internal controls in entirely new ways, it’s been an interesting time for us auditing our clients’ financial statements and ensuring their reporting deadlines are met.

National Audits Group has experienced a myriad of changes over the last two years, some were made by choice, and some made in reaction to the ongoing COVID-19 Government restrictions. One thing is for sure, to get through a tough situation you need to stand by your values. And for National Audits Group, it has meant offering uncompromising standards of expertise and creativity in the delivery of our services to clients. 

Over the last two years we’ve grown from strength to strength by prioritising the engagement and motivation of our team and focused on more effective communication and flexibility. We’ve been able to apply the lessons discovered internally to offer better services to our clients.  

As businesses across Australia continue to experience lockdowns and other-related restrictions, National Audits Group has been able to remain a leader in the industry and uphold the highest quality of service. Auditing requires following rigorous processes so our strong focus on systemised procedure has been invaluable. 

When it comes to our team navigating a second year with COVID-19, we’ve had to act quickly to adapt. Finding how we balance work-from-home structures while keeping teams engaged and satisfied across multiple office locations in Australia has been a great learning experience. 

And we’re not alone, with thousands of businesses across the country all experiencing the same difficulties as well as newfound strengths. So, let’s explore the lessons National Audits Group has learned over the last two years.

Your team comes first 

From the highest-level managers to staff recently qualified in auditing, engaging, and motivating your team during lockdown has been a learning experience all round. National Audits Group has strived to find savvy ways to keep their staff engaged and motivated as we move into the second year of auditing during COVID-19.

Team engagement and onboarding

National Audits Group has grown significantly over the last few years. We’ve also expanded offices into the Gold Coast, Canberra, Melbourne, and the NSW Central Coast with clients now in every Australian state.  

In July 2021 our Wagga Wagga team headcount was sitting at 30, which has grown from 20, 12 months ago. Within that team is a new Business Manager assisting leading operations for the firm alongside our directors. This was a critically thought through position to enhance operational processes and streamline internal communication. In addition, the National Audit Group Leadership Team also grew with Danielle Nye recently appointed as an Executive Director in August this year.

On an ongoing basis, National Audits Group is coordinating bringing on new team members and we haven’t always been able to meet in person. With offices based across Australia, we’ve endeavored to prioritise developing team culture and a sense of belonging as early as the onboarding process.

Firstly, we focus on training with specific teams. Between 26-28 July this year we held an online External Audit and Financial Reporting Workshop via a Microsoft Teams video call. Our aim was to solidify newer employee’s knowledge surrounding crucial concepts and processes necessary to complete high-quality and efficient audits.

Not only is an event like this a fantastic way to cover vital information, such as audit reporting and engagement planning, it helps our team to strengthen their working relationships and gain a sense of connection.

Further, we engaged the entire National Audits Group team through our 2022 Strategic Planning Conference. Over two days, we came together in person and virtually to not only reflect on the 2021 financial year, but we also proactively collaborated to establish strategic direction for 2022. It’s important all team members are across the vision and goals of the business, as well as establishing this on an individual team level basis. 

It can be challenging for any employee to feel like they’re having quality team socialisation which leads to a more productive, cohesive, and rewarding working environment when working from home. It’s especially difficult for new team members across various locations in Australia, regardless of current COVID-19 restrictions.

By holding these kinds of virtual workshops and conferences for National Audits Group employees, we aim to foster interactive discussions, encourage innovation and collaboration while building solid bonds through team-centered activities.

Meetings and adaptability

As we roll into the second year of COVID-19, we have been encouraged by the latest lockdowns to work smarter not harder, particularly when it comes to communication within and between different teams and locations. To better respect people’s time – especially when juggling home-schooling with work – we’ve prioritised making our meetings more effective.

To do this we’ve started reassessing the critical business needs of certain people who attend each meeting. Sometimes a meeting may be made more productive by only including managers who can then relay information to their teams. Further, setting a clear agenda with structure allows each person to have their time to listen, speak, and ask questions, and helps avoid unnecessary chatter and wasting time.

Most of all, National Audits Group has always aimed and continues to be an employer of choice. To truly navigate the last two years, being adaptable to our employees’ needs has been fundamental. It’s understandable that interruptions will occur, and for many, the standard 9-5 office job will look a lot different in lockdown. We know that for many of our employees, they’re juggling work life with kids, many of whom need hands-on time for schooling.

This focus on flexibility has provided employees with a safe and open environment to communicate changes to their schedules. This has certainly helped to ensure our client’s needs are met, as opposed to forcing tough deadlines when their day now looks considerably different than when they were in office.

Always Available to Clients

Last financial year, National Audits Group’s goals were set at navigating the ever-changing environment created by COVID-19 and continue to deliver fantastic results to our clients.

Entering this new financial year, our clients seem to be operating better than before and are more prepared for any unexpected changes. In return, we’ve offered our clients a continued flow of communication paired with support from our national and local presence.

The Flow of Communication

As we move into this second year of auditing under pandemic-related restrictions, National Audits Group has refocused some of the ways we now work with and support our clients.

Due to the latest COVID-19 restrictions across Australia, many clients have shifted to online communication only. When our clients indicate there is a need for flexibility, we aim to offer the most appropriate solutions possible. In fact, in working with over 250 different clients, we’ve increased our online client communication to over 70% , which is up from approximately 50% earlier this year. We strive to develop an open and accommodating communication channel with our clients and always endeavor to be always approachable.

For some clients however, nothing will truly replace the values and benefits of a face-to-face meeting with a local National Audits Group team member. We understand it’s not one size fits all, especially for clients who may not be as technologically savvy. Many businesses can still take advantage of the excellent auditing services provided by their local National Audits Group office, in areas where lockdown restrictions do not apply.

We strive to make our communications with clients clear and consistent. Whether that be sending reminders about lodgment deadlines or suggestions on how to eliminate delays when submitting final reports. A simple piece of advice we provide our SMSF clients is to send all documents in the first instance. Simple, but crucial to make the process efficient for both the client and the owner of the SMSF fund. 

Our availability, transparency and attentiveness to clients has also been one of the benefits of working with the National Audits Group. After all, we are nationally based so there’s no restrictions on how we may be able to provide value and assist our clients. 

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