The auditors are given flexi work options, but many do not use such options in fear of getting penalised or being associated with negative work attitude by their employers. Flexi working still has connotations of being flaky or not committed to either the role or the organisation. However, their productivity might not be affected like what the management perceives; on the contrary, research has found that about 75% of accountants believed that they would be more successful if they could choose the hours they work.
Such flexi work options are all the more valuable to certain groups of employees such as parents or pregnant women. Sadly, due to rigid organisational culture, these employees might find themselves declining such options, very much against their own wishes. Flexibility could very well symbolise workplace inclusivity.
Flexibility could come in many forms: Most commonly, flexibility to work from home.(flexi-place); flexibility to work within the office premise but need not be desk-bound; flexibility to start one’s working hours and go for the break as and when one wishes (flexi-time).
Granted, the policy of working from home is prone to abuse by employees, creating a certain level of distrust between employees and employers. This would explain the management’s resistance to flexi working options.
Also, traditionally employers tend to correlate performance with the employees’ physical presence. As such, many employees choose not to use the flexible work options of fear that they may be penalized, effectively engaging soft-censorship practices.
What it does
Key Value Proposition
Transparency Managers are able to track the progress and productivity of auditors on and off site. This places a greater focus on the outcome, removing the stigma of absence in office being equivalent to not doing work. With these barriers broken, employees would be able to exercise flexi work options with a greater peace of mind.
Depending on the openness of the management, our software would encourage even the less open employers to trust that their employees will still deliver while working flexibly by giving them a means to track the latter’s work progress outside of the office.
For the new clients, advanced analytics is able to gauge the time needed to complete specific tasks, allowing employers to entrust such tasks to employees off site with a peace of mind. This is because employees are aware that their employers have knowledge of the duration reasonably expected of the new task and they would be restrained from abusing the flexi arrangement.
Incentive to implement Company: Reduce expensive office space; attract and retain talents who like flexible working options
Employees: Greater autonomy over where they do their work will lead to higher work satisfaction; not needing to waste time in traffic, higher efficiencies can be achieved. Employees can instead use the time to complete more work. For employees with special needs, such as pregnant women and parents with young children, the ability to work remotely without prejudice is a godsend.
How we built it
Challenges we ran into
We ran into challenges ideating. After consultation with the industry mentors, we found out that our original ideas were not feasible and our feasible ideas lacked the ‘x’ factor. Thus we spent much of the hackathon coming up with a plan.
Due to time constraints and limited technical experience, we did not integrate data analytics into our prototype. For preliminary testing of this function, we propose to use Keras, before switching to tensorflow for more flexibility in the data modeling.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We are proud that we tried our best. We are proud of submitting something despite the significant challenges we faced in syncing up our schedules, fixing technical bugs and fighting our fatigue. :)
What we learned
Understanding the industry and its pain points is critical in finding the root cause of most problems. Should not learn the development tools during the hackathon as learning + implementation results in significantly higher stress and time taken.
What's next for weFlex
Occasionally, an audit team would spend their working hours at their client’s place, in order to retrieve and verify important financial information. Clients would feel more reassured seeing the auditors around doing work, justifying the auditing fees they pay. A possible future direction would be to get clients to come on board this platform for them to monitor their auditors work progress digitally and still be comfortable with auditors working flexibly, not necessarily at the client’s company. To achieve such flexibility for auditors, the key would be to convince clients that this platform would add value to them.
We believe that the starting point for a new digital initiative should no longer be on how to improve capabilities, products and services; but rather how to add value to all stakeholders. As clients feed a sheer volume of their financial data onto this platform, auditors can generate and deliver deeper insights (such as areas to optimise) about the company and its industry through analytics found in our product. This analytics service is provided in conjunction with the audit service. This is in tandem with the evolving role of an auditor. However, we acknowledge the high cost of this analytics function to the audit company. We recommend the audit company to bundle their auditing and analytics services together which would be more favorable and cheaper to clients as compared to engaging both services separately. All in all, auditors get to enjoy flexi work options, clients get to enjoy value-added auditing service, and the audit company stands to forge closer customer and employee intimacy.
We also believe that our product could be expanded to other industries where remote computer work is prevalent, freelance programmers and designers for example would be able to justify their fees . However, every industry and its nature of work is very different. Hence, more research has to be done in order to better understand each industry and tailor our product accordingly.