Institute of Certified NZ Bookkeepers

We are feeling a little out of control… concerned for the future…. And we are all in the same boat. 

Keep yourself safe

Keeping yourself safe is the number one priority.  If you are feeling unwell, have recently returned from overseas or been in contact with someone recently back from overseas, you should:

  • Contact the Ministry of Health (MoH) on 0800 385 5453
  • Phone your GP (call ahead, a lot of medical centres are doing virtual consults in the first instance
  • Think about you have been in contact with - work/home/relatives - MoH can guide you on how to respond/what to do.

Practical steps to take personally:

  • Social distancing - 1-2m - no handshakes, hugs or hongis!
  • Washing your hands - regularly and thoroughly
  • Keep surfaces extra clean - remember about taps and door handles
    You can make your own hand sanitiser and cleaning sprays
  • Minimise your travel and trips for shopping, usual events like church, community groups etc
  • Put strategies in place for your immediate and wider family - keep communications open - especially with elderly parents/relatives - they are a high risk group for the virus.

Look after YOU first

Put your own safety mask on first.  You cannot help anyone else if you are not ok yourself.  Make sure you nourish yourself with good food, fresh air and time out.  We cannot make rational clear thought out decisions when we have cortisol running around in our heads.  Take control of what you can control. Stay in a good routine, people hang onto in times of crisis the things they find normal.  Keep your mind in a solution focussed state.

Keep a positive mindset.  There is an overload of information constantly in our faces.  Turn it off.  Only look at what you WANT to look at, not what is forced into your space.  We must remain agile and focus on what we can do.  Fear is uncertainty without direction.

Practical steps to take work-wise:

  • Work from home as much as possible
  • Keep anti-bacterial wipes in your car
  • Use keyboard antibacterial wipes for all devices used - both at home but particularly if shared at work/with clients
  • Keep work and desk surfaces regularly cleaned before starting and when finishing work for the day
  • Take your own water bottle and coffee cup with you - and back home again, wash thoroughly everyday

Things to consider with onsite clients:

  • Review your frequency of working onsite - can this be reduced /eliminated?  Can you work remotely?
  • What type of duties do you do - do you physically need to be there for all/some of those tasks?
  • If not already registered as a Bookkeeper and have MyIR access to client's applicable tax types, now is the time to do so.
  • Can you use shared document systems to share documents - eg Dropbox, Office365 
    (consider confidentiality issues first)
  • Set some parameters for regular communications - you don't want everyone bombarding you - make that a scheduled online meeting or phone call
  • What other online tools could you use to replace some of the onsite activities?
    Here are some ideas:
    - Loom to create 'how to' training videos with cloud software - Loom
    - Zoom for online meetings - Zoom
    - Calendly for clients to book time for a meeting with you automatically
    - Phone them soon if you haven't already - discuss how Covid19 is affecting your business and what changes you propose for working together in the next few weeks
  • Offer support and guidance.  You don’t have to have the answers, they are after certainty (that you are there) and communication. Share the official web links and guidelines with your clients that may be affected financially, you don't have to take full responsibility on their behalf - but can help.
  • With regards to filling in application forms, employers need employee’s permission to give their information to MSD – so ensure they get that in writing.  Create a form for them giving them permission.
  • Keep up-to-date daily as things are rapidly changing - you need to know what is going on for yourself personally, your own family, your business/work, and your clients - quite a lot of responsibility!

If you are fearful of facing those conversations with your clients because you don’t know what to do or say, just listen to them.   Keep it simple. 

Bookkeepers are well placed to offer and provide support.  You may wish to restrict the time spent on complimentary conversations by stating at the beginning of a call that you have 15 mins available.

Your clients are looking for certainty and connection at the moment. The certainty is that you are there for you them.  Empathise them and if you aren’t sure on something, be sure to let them know that you have heard their concerns and will come back to them, or that you don’t know. Its ok not to know.  You do not need to have all the of the answers.

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