[IMGCAP(1)]The accounting firm of the future looks something like this: no dress code, no walls over four feet high throughout the office with the exception of a few conference rooms, and no billable hours.

Let me say that again: no billable hours!

Relax, unwind, be open-minded and follow the reasoning behind the future of the accounting firm.

No Dress Code
Hopefully you have hired employees not because of the way they look, but rather because of their education, future potential, productivity history and experience. Employers tend to not employ others just to babysit them. An employer is looking to relieve pressure on the company by hiring someone to take over work that the employer or another employee was not able to do him or herself.

With that being said, why as the employer do I need to tell my staff what to wear and when to wear it? If I am giving responsibility to my employees, I should at the very least be able to trust that they can determine for themselves what to wear!

But what if a client comes in the office and sees a bunch of people in shorts and T-shirts, what would they think of these professional services? Your culture dictates your client’s expectations. If you incorporate the No Dress Code concept into your firm, you can tell your client that not having a dress code fosters diversity and enhances your employees’ ability to challenge one another for greater results and efficiency, among other things. Plus, we are comfortable, happy and productive!

No Offices
Sorry to you, “manager with 15 years of experience,” get over it! For too long, you have been holed up in your office telling people you are unable to have a two-minute powwow because you are too busy with an over loaded client project list. Go delegate some work to reduce the stress off your back, leverage your time and help your team grow.

There is very little that goes on in the office that is confidential inside the walls of an accounting firm. Yes, information that is discussed inside the office should not be discussed in public locations, but very rarely when a team is working on a project together is it efficient to have the team split up by paper-thin walls.

With the accessibility of laptop plugins, the firm of the future will have user stations around large desks so that teams who are working on projects together can sit together, communicate, listen and hear all of the conversation surrounding a specific client. Discussions no longer have to happen multiple times as everybody hears real time about what the clients’ needs and expectations are.

For those occasional private discussions or “distracting” celebrations, the firm of the future should ensure they have enough private meeting spaces (conference areas) in order to facilitate the limited private conversations that occur at any given time.

No Billable Hours
When your client comes to you with problem, I am guessing they rarely say to you, “How many billable hours do I need to purchase to fix the problem?” They probably ask, “How much will the project cost?” which should be entirely dependent on the value you provide rather than the time it will take you to complete the project.

Rather than discuss the disadvantages of the billable hour, I want to focus on the opportunities that the “no billable hour” creates. No billable hours means that everyone in your office can stop timing themselves on each project, giving your team more time to be productive in creating something of value. In addition, by focusing on the project, you end up concentrating on improving the process of the project, which is the point that creates the most value for your firm.

Furthermore, the “no billable hour” sets the stage for creative thinking and action. The shift to creative problem solving alleviates the stagnation that occurs when CPAs just follow last year’s inefficient process and hope for the best.

The future of the accounting firm should focus on changing the world working with one client at a time, not worrying about one’s billable hour goals. The ideas above are simple suggestions that will remove barriers from your firm to make a difference in the lives of your clients. In this age of constant distraction, concentrate on efficiencies that your firm can generate and have fun at the same time.

Adam Blitz, CPA, is a tax and consulting manager at Wiebe Hinton Hambalek, LLP in Fresno, Calif. Along with his CPA, Adam has a Masters of Arts in Leadership Studies from Fresno Pacific University. Adam authored a thesis entitled, "The Leading CPA—the value of the leading CPA." Adam is focused on working with his clients, colleagues, and industry professionals in enhancing the value of the CPA. For additional information, he can be contacted at Adamb@whhcpas.com or via Twitter @getblitzed.

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