From XU Magazine, 
Issue 18

Is it time to say goodbye to 9-5?

Technology shows the way…

Automation promised to bring us shorter work days and more time to do what we love. Now, that is finally starting to look like a reality. Technology is changing the face of productivity for good.
This article originated from the Xero blog. The XU Hub is an independent news and media platform - for Xero users, by Xero users. Any content, imagery and associated links below are directly from Xero and not produced by the XU Hub.
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What a way to make a living!

The classic ‘nine to five’ dates back to the nineteenth century, designed to regulate working conditions during the Industrial Revolution. Ever since, it has been a blueprint for businesses of all sizes and sectors. But, that’s now set to change.

In 2016, companies across Sweden trialled the impact of a shorter working day on productivity and happiness. A study among 70 Swedish nurses in a retirement home found that nurses felt happier and more energised, plus took less sick leave. Despite the impressive results, the shorter working day failed to stick. They had to hire more nurses to provide round-the-clock care, and the move proved too expensive.

However, small Swedish tech companies saw greater success. A Stockholm-based gaming company, Filimundus, reported a happier workplace with less conflict and more focus. What is more, their sick leave dropped by a quarter.

So, how does this relate to the accounting and bookkeeping industry? Unlike nursing, where being present is part of the service they provide, accounting and bookkeeping practices focus on delivering value to clients. If you can shift your focus from input and timesheets to output and deliverables, you can transform the way you approach the workday.

The price of efficiency

You have likely already come across the concept of matching output with pricing. Instead of billing by the hour, watching the clock and completing timesheets, value-based pricing emphasises the value you give to your end client rather than the hours you put in.

Particularly with time-saving technologies like Receipt Bank, you can raise your efficiency and provide the same value, in less time.

Finding the commercial value

To make six hour working days work, you need to work smarter.

Traditionally, an accountant or bookkeeper’s workload would include hours of data entry, sorting through emails to locate invoices and managing paperwork. With Receipt Bank, accountants and bookkeepers can cut the time spent on data by 50 – 70%.

There is a whole ecosystem of Cloud accounting software waiting at your feet, making everything from cash flow forecasting to payroll more efficient. These give you the chance to provide additional value-adding services, improve your profit margin and your end experience.

Setting internal KPIs

Moving to an output-focused working model requires you to set internal key performance indicators (KPIs) to effectively measure the what your team are producing, even if they are working remotely.

Here are some KPIs you can track to measure your efficiency:

  1. Processing Times: How long does it take to process the data and publish to the general ledger? This is key to making sure your clients’ information is up to date and useful.
  2. Bookkeeper to Client Ratio: How many clients can your bookkeepers or accountants look after? The more efficiently they work, the more clients they can manage.
  3. Response time: How long to clients have to wait when they send in a question? Are you making your clients feel valued?
  4. Net Promoter Score (NPS): How likely are your clients to recommend you to a friend or business-owner? This is key to creating a pipeline of referrals and recommendations.

Word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most powerful – and best of all, cost-effective – strategies in your marketing toolkit. Use it. Invest in technology that will enhance your end-client experience, and make working with you quick, simple and pleasurable.

What now?

Just as the Industrial Revolution transformed working conditions, the Fourth Industrial Revolution promises to usher in a happier, more productive way of working.

With technology like Receipt Bank, you have every opportunity to raise efficiency while making shorter working days a reality.


As one of the first 100% Cloud-based firms in the UK, Receipt Bank partner Farnell & Clarke are known for doing things a little differently. Earlier this year, they announced they were dropping the 37.5 hour working week and fixed annual holiday entitlement.

They now offer their team unlimited holiday and six-hour days to fit around their personal life, in exchange for exceptional performance.

“We asked our staff and 90% of our team thought they could do all their current work 6 hours. We trust our team to work well and how they want. If they choose to work more than 6 hours, that is fine! So as long as they are getting the work done and the client is happy, that is the key. And that is the thing with a flexible working culture. It requires a change in mindset. We give our team flexibility in exchange for exceptional performance. You must exceed expectations, and in return you have autonomy, freedom and the ability to focus on higher value needs.” Will Farnell Founder of Farnell & Clarke

Why leave it there?

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