Guest Blog by Craig Billington – It’s work, but not as we know it

May 8, 2020 0 By Phil Gee
Guest Blog by Craig Billington – It’s work, but not as we know it

Craig is an accountant and business adviser at Kirkwood Wilson in Southport. He’s had to adapt, like the rest of us, to a new way of working. Here’s his account of dealing with furlough requests and handling new software…..

I sit at my desk as I write this blog, my computer on one side of me, my printer on the other side. The window slightly ajar, I can hear the song of the birds in the trees. My phone buzzes and yep, it’s a client getting in touch as they do each quarter to find out the dreaded VAT bill. 

You’d be forgiven for thinking that this was a normal day for me. I guess to some degree it is. I mean, the content of the day in many ways remains the same as it did 8 weeks ago. I still speak with Caroline more than I do the majority of my family members, the staff still groan when I make a cheesy joke mid-conversation and I still use Xero like it’s going out of fashion.

The difference is I do it all from home.

COVID-19 has arrived in the country like some sort of bullet train and we’ve all had to adjust to this ‘new normal’ whether we like it or not.

At Kirkwood Wilson, we actually began working from home before the lockdown was announced. Dan and I spent time ensuring that we had enough WiFi dongles that everyone could get set up at home. We even had a trial day where we each tested the systems we’d be using at home so we could be certain it would be very much business as usual.

And that’s exactly what it is for us: business as usual. Yes, the scenery is different but we work as efficiently as we ever have.

Questions about Benefits-in-Kind have now been replaced with queries about the various Coronavirus help schemes introduce by HMRC. VAT returns are in the majority filed and our focus is very much on completing the furlough claims for March and April for our clients. Year-end accounts have, for the last week or so at the very least, taken a sensible back seat whilst we concentrate on transferring payroll schemes from our old systems to the new Xero Payroll software.

We have never been busier nor needed more by our clients, but I truly believe we’ve excelled in challenging circumstances. The staff have pulled together in ways I don’t think any of us could have imagined. We have an incredible team at KW and each one brings something unique to our incredibly cohesive unit. Twice weekly meetings on Zoom now start our Monday and Thursday mornings in the best way possible.

Microsoft Teams has meant that we can still keep our juniors’ knowledge expanding on a daily basis and allows us to connect with our clients to get year-end meetings boxed off and accounts out of the door. Clients remain informed of tax liabilities well in advance of their deadlines.

Clients will be missing the sound of Ash or Jo’s friendly voices as they would usually pick up the phone and pass you over to one of the staff should you have a query for us. We’re now contactable by mobile phone and I for one can vouch that my phone’s been taking a beating with phone calls the last few weeks. 

What that’s meant though is for the client, everything appears seamlessly integrated with our former methods of working. The client experience, in our opinion remains as high, if not higher than ever and we really do believe this period is laying the foundations for the practise to move forward in the best shape possible.

The ‘new normal’? More than likely not forever. I for one think this will usher in a new way of working for everyone, and one in which adaptability becomes the new buzzword

You can visit their website at https://www.kirkwoodwilson.co.uk

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