The next time you enter your office, pause for a moment and try to imagine how it would look to someone who’d never been there before. Is it inviting and attractive? The kind of place they would want to spend a career in?

More and more firms are recognizing that being a Best Place to Work also means being a more comfortable place to work—they’re refurbishing shabby décor, for instance, and embracing open-plan offices that let in light and encourage collaboration. Partner offices (if they still have them) are being moved to building cores, to let staff enjoy views and natural light, while common areas are being enhanced and improved.

Firms are paying more attention to amenities, too, adding exercise facilities on-site, relaxation rooms, and tricked-out break rooms, along with fully stocked kitchens.

Paradoxically, improving the environment for staff also often means letting them work somewhere else, and many of Accounting Today’s Best Firms to Work For have embraced remote-work capabilities.

To be sure, this is most often on a limited basis, and staff are usually given the necessary technologies and system access to work outside the office with the understanding that it will only be on an occasional basis.

At Kansas-based Best Firm Allen, Gibbs & Houlik, for instance, “Employees are allowed to work remotely from home if the need arises,” the firm reported. “Technology resources are provided to allow full access to the firm’s data and software, reducing the need to commute.”

Firms are also finding that being able to allow employees to work remotely means they can attract or keep talent they might otherwise lose. Porter Keadle Moore in Atlanta cited a number of examples of this: “One of our employee's husbands was relocating to Costa Rica for six months for his job. We allowed her to work remotely from Costa Rica for the six months so that they could be together. Another employee's husband is stationed in Japan, and so works remotely for one month in Japan every summer. We allowed two employees to relocate to other states and work 100-percent remotely to be with their spouses as they completed residency programs. And we hired another employee to work 100-percent remotely so he can be close to his family and assist with a sibling with special needs.”

Similarly, at Kentucky’s Rudler, “Our remote employee policy will enable a senior accountant to continue the career he established with us while supporting his spouse's career by traveling to Baltimore with her while she completes a year-long internship.”

In the end, employees who can work where they need and want to—wherever that may be—will be less likely to want to work somewhere else.

For more ways to create a top workplace, see 20 Days: Building a Better Firm.

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Daniel Hood

Daniel Hood

Daniel Hood is editor-in-chief of Accounting Today and Tax Pro Today, and has covered the tax and accounting field for over 20 years.