Question for everyone: How are virtual bookkeeping companies staffed?

  • 18 November 2020
  • 3 replies

Userlevel 4
Badge +4

Hi All! 


I’ve received two great questions from @HOAFinancials that I thought I would share here for Community input. Does anyone have any resources or input on how staffing for virtual bookkeeping companies might be organized.


Also, what percentage of virtual bookkeeping practices has anyone seen using 1099s vs W2 employees located in the US?


We would love to hear your thoughts or review any resources you might have to share with us and@HOAFinancials 

3 replies

Userlevel 5
Badge +3

@HOAFinancials there is a bit of mixture. It really depends on the focus on the owner and their access to resources. This has also been thrown a bit of a wrench based on COVID-19. Some bookkeeping firms look to part-time resources and/or virtual employees that need flexibility (e.g. parents returning back to the workforce). Whether W2 or 1099 depends on how confident they are in the resource and how long they want the arrangement to last. If unsure or more short-term, 1099. If a unicorn resource that just needs flexibility, W2. Proximity used to be a major factor, but that has become less important as the availability of talent has continued to be hard to find and expectations (e.g. COVID-19) have shifted for possible employees that have many outside options. So, unfortunately, it depends.

Thoughts @joecpa @CarlaCaldwell @Victoria Peters?

Userlevel 2
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Great question.  We see both contractor and W2s frequently, though I do believe it leans more toward employees.  With all that went on this year, classification of staff has become an issue in some states, and even the US Dept of Labor seems to be weighing in.   Benefits can be a consideration (though that’s easier to offer than ever before), including inexpensive 401(k)s, remote work, and flex schedules.  There are also security protocols for data and confidential information, which may be easier to mandate for employees than contractors.

The mindset we see between contractor and employee should also be considered- especially for a bookkeeping firm that is in growth mode.  Also consider that with remote teams (whether contractor or employee) there is still a need to invest in culture and communication.  Karbon is at the core of this in our firm, with Slack, Zoom meetings, and when possible, good old fashioned face-to-face meetings and team building (especially over food!).  

At the core of all of this conversation should always be the strategy and goals of your firm and how best to achieve them.  And don’t forget- you can change your mind later as market and business needs change.  

Userlevel 7
Badge +10

We are in Canada and with the borders closed we don’t even have any staff on temporary travel to the US.  We issue income tax information slips based on residency status, as a Canadian company, we do not issue W2 or T1099.

We have staff members in 4 different Provinces (at the moment) and one overseas on extended travel so we make it a priority to ensure communication and build culture.  Our teams cover multiple time zones, communication through Karbon and Zoom meetings set up to accommodate the time of day each attendee is in and ‘communication windows’ are important to keep our team members in the loop.  We have a weekly All Team Zoom meeting and record video updates that go out weekly from our CEO. our teams have regular training and meetings at the team level and by role (our production team meets with COO and CIO without their direct managers). 

The freedom for our staff to be able to move (changing Province, downsizing, upsizing, moving out of the city) based on what is best for their family not based on the commute has been amazing to watch.  Being able to recruit across the country has expanded the talent pool. 

We are working hard to smooth out the hiccups with onboarding a remote employee and keeping current employees engaged using tools like Karbon which offers such visibility and Zoom which allows for face to face and Slack which has evolved into ‘water cooler’.  We are setting up a Learning Management System to meet individual training needs and we use Kahoots for fun and to test how much is being absorbed.   While the message is consistent our experience has been that it is best heard when delivered in a variety of ways.

Bottom line - we are finding that a clear and creative communication strategy is key to keeping our staff engaged and accountable.