Softworks Blog

Oliver Mitchell

Oliver Mitchell is head of finance at Softworks

Recent Posts

Juggling the Work/Life Balance with Flexitime

Posted by Oliver Mitchell on Thu, Aug 31, 2017

The now famous 30 second speech given by the former CEO of Coca Cola Bryan Dyson (86-91), identified work as one of five components of life. It went along the lines of:

"Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling five balls in the air.  You name them - Work, Family, Health. Friends and Spirit - and you're keeping all of these in the air. You'll soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls- Family,Health,Friends and Spirit -  are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed,marked,nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for it. Work efficiently during the office hours and leave on time. Give the required time to your family, friends and have proper rest. Value has a value only if it's value is valued."

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Life today is very different from the 1980's. Technology has made the world a much smaller place. Communicaton methods are constantly evolving and a vast amount of people post their every movement and interaction on some form of social media to share with the world. But that in itself is a whole other conversation!

Work is also a much more fluid environment nowadays. My colleagues are spread over 4 different time zones , with customers and suppliers in numerous others. But with the range of devices now available we are practically contactable 24/7 almost anywhere in the world.  So I ask the question: "Are we truly ever off the clock?" 

Don't get me wrong, I think it's amazing that we can be at home, out for a walk, having dinner with friends or doing any number of things and can solve an issue or respond to a question from someone who needs an answer during their working day, and vice versa. Without a doubt this makes the work flow quicker and easier, but it also blurs the lines of what Bryan Dyson was trying to get across. In his speech, there is seemingly a clear divide between the 5 elements we're all  constantly struggling to juggle. In today's reality, they all intermingle, blend together and managing your time ensuring each one is kept in the air is one of modern life's biggest challenges. 

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Using Flexitime within your organisation can assist employee's with managing this quandary. Having freedom to choose your start and end time to your office day can help you to deal with the other things that life throws at you from time to time. From the employers point of view, knowing that your employee is monitoring their hours to ensure they work the contracted amount of time over a week or month gives you some peace of mind too. It doesn't neccessarily cover the extra little segments of time that get spent on those late night emails or phone calls but it does offer more balance than the traditional office hours.  

In essence, having flexibility around the demands of work enables a person to better juggle all the balls they have in the air at any given time and that, I believe, encapsulates the message that Bryan Dyson was conveying in his 30 second speech. 

Topics: Time & Attendance, Flexitime / Flexible Working Hours Arrangement, Flexible Working, Workforce Management

Numbers may be everything but information is key for accountants today

Posted by Oliver Mitchell on Tue, Jan 10, 2017

Accountants deal with numbers all day, every day. It’s a fact of life as an accountant, whether it’s a book-keeper for a sole trader or a CFO for a large PLC, numbers are everything in this role.

We analyse the numbers, we test the numbers, we double check the numbers, we maintain them and finally we report them.

In all of that work and apart from the reporting techniques and parameters, we don’t try to affect them. They are the reality, they are the real financial snapshot of where a business is at in any given moment.

The modern day accountant is not just a number cruncher any longer. Of course that’s still the primary role, but it’s no secret that now more than ever companies are tapping into the other attributes that accountants typically have to help them in other areas of their business. An understanding of the intricate relationships between their activities and each financial aspect of them enables an accountant to have a very broad perception of a company.

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There is a saying that ‘Money is everything’, and who understands money better than an accountant? After all, that’s what a majority of their day is spent working with. But maybe the word ‘everything’ in that saying is more about the ability to have an influence on everything within the business as a whole.

Numbers don’t grow by themselves. It takes a team of people to make a business tick; Sales, Marketing, Production to name but a few and within each of these areas’ accountants can add something of value. It might not be a game changer, it might not result in doubling of profits, but then that’s not an accountant’s function. We’re not the specialist in every field, usually just in one, but, within that field of expertise there is a chance to be unique from any other function and make contributions to every facet of a company. A review of a sales structure, a tweak of payments terms, efficiency exercise on costs, it all adds up.

Softworks solutions can operate as another tool in the armoury of an accountant. Yes it provides timesheets, rostering solutions and absence requests but it also provides information on specific activities within every aspect of a business in the form of time expended and its related cost and who better to analyse these numbers and identify ways to make improvements than an accountant.

Topics: Accountants, Performance, Timesheets