This post was contributed by airCFO Tax Intern, Bill Xu.
I started my internship with airCFO’s Tax Team in April 2021, right after finishing a busy season internship at a regional CPA firm. During my time here, I have had the privilege of working with all sorts of different start-up stage companies, ranging from more traditional businesses to cutting-edge technology companies. However, it was seeing how airCFO has built such a collaborative remote work environment that really impressed me. Instead of struggling to overcome the challenges of remote work, airCFO manages to capitalize on being a remote organization to improve teamwork and better serve their clients.
A common issue I have seen discussed when it comes to remote work during the pandemic is communication. Employees feel isolated from their coworkers without the opportunity for “water cooler” bonding, and new employees have trouble finding their place in the team. When I first started with airCFO, I was afraid that it would be difficult to get help with my questions or collaborate with coworkers that are based on the other side of the country. Nothing could have been further from the truth. My teammates on the Tax Team have been incredibly kind, providing me with mentorship and support throughout my internship. My coworkers in other departments have been friendly and helpful whenever we have to work together on a client. The leadership team is incredibly accessible, with office hours replacing the more standard “open door” policy. Even the CEO took the time to have a one-on-one meeting to welcome me when I first started my internship. I have felt warmly welcomed since my first day and in the months since have come to feel that I am a valued member of the team whose feedback will contribute to a better organization.
Of course, none of this would be possible without technology. AirCFO uses a vast array of different collaborative software platforms, many of which are start-ups themselves, to support its cloud-based remote system. I have found that airCFO has invested in both easing communication between employees as well as creating a transparent workspace that allows employees to access client data without having to get in contact with the client manager in the first place. We use Slack to maintain quick and easy communication both between coworkers and with clients, Front to manage both internal and external communications via a series of inboxes accessible firm-wide, Notion to store helpful resources and track the changing requirements and progress of any team projects, and 1Password to securely store client data in a way that is accessible to the greater organization, just to name a few. This might seem like a lot to juggle at first, but most of the software is designed to be intuitive and user-friendly. Thus, there is not much of a learning curve to integrating everything into your work life, and you hardly feel the physical distance between you and your coworkers.
I have seen first-hand airCFO’s constant quest for process improvement. The Slack chat channels are often full of discussion of new software and how they might be used to our benefit. Even in the short time that I have been with the firm, we have switched up some of our software and implemented process changes in pursuit of better workflow. Discussion with my colleagues told me that this was not just an unusual period of change. Cycling software platforms can sometimes be difficult to keep up with, but I have seen that it benefits the organization overall to get rid of products that do not best serve its needs and find new products that might solve an organizational problem in an elegant and innovative way. This benefits clients as well since airCFO often uses similar general administrative software and can make recommendations when clients want to know what is a good software to use or how to solve workflow problems that they have encountered. Perhaps it is because airCFO is a start-up itself, but I have found it quite incredible how in-tune the company can be with the needs of its clients.
After almost a year now with airCFO, I have developed a new perspective on and appreciation for the companies that make up the cutting edge of the start-up world. Seeing how airCFO manages its remote workforce has inspired me as to the possibilities that planning and innovation can create, and having the opportunity to work with all the incredible up-and-coming companies feels like getting a glimpse of the future. I will be wrapping up my internship at the end of May 2022, but I will be taking all the lessons I have learned here with me as I start my career.
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