Jim Bourke, a partner with more than 30 years of industry experience, is repeatedly named one of Accounting Today’s 100 Most Influential People and was one of the first CPAs in the nation to receive the AICPA’s Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP) credential. He is a past chair of the AICPA’s CITP Credentialing Committee and current AICPA ENGAGE Conference co-chair. As a tech leader focused on the adoption of blockchain, artificial intelligence and more, Jim discussed some of the tactics Withum used in its transition to a remote workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic.
How involved are you in Withum’s digital transformation and remote workplace transition?
“It’s pretty much what I do every day. Withum used to have 21 offices. Today, we have 1,300 offices. Why? Because all our staff are working remotely. I think the profession has finally realized you don’t need everybody in the office from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. You don’t need everybody working late hours all the time. You don’t have to come in before the partner does and stay until the partner leaves. I think people are seeing that maybe the younger staff were right and we need to be more flexible with work/life balance.”
How did Withum approach the sudden transition to a remote workplace earlier this year?
Like many firms, it was clunky at first. We noticed early on staff couldn’t work the same at home as they could in the office. In the office, you had everything: two or three monitors, a docking station, a wireless keyboard and a wireless mouse. But at home, many of our staff didn’t have that. So, we listened and said, “No problem. Buy what you need and put it on your expense report.” If you think about it, $500 or $600 doesn’t really matter if it helps our people be productive and make the most of their time. Once they did that and got into that flow, there was no turning back. We have had some amazing months, back to back. It has been a home run for us.
What role did technology play in your transition to a remote workplace?
One silver lining during this time has been our success with rapidly embracing Microsoft Teams. Our chief information officer and I talk each week, and our adoption of MS Teams was relatively low before the pandemic. Only a few forwardthinking people were using it. By March, adoption was way up and has stayed up all along. One of the things we did was provide in-depth training on Teams after everyone got used to it. We figured, “You know what? Everyone will learn through trial by fire, we’ll work the bugs out, and then we’ll take a detailed look at these applications and determine how best to use them.”
Read more about how Jim Bourke implemented tactics at Withum to help its transition to a remote workplace in the Winter 2020 edition of Growth Strategies on page 8.
About Mathew Conlin, CF APMP
Mathew Conlin, CF APMP is a Senior Business Development Specialist at BerryDunn.