We have all been hearing about, and I would imagine many firms may also have been experiencing, the tough staffing market out there of late, with recruitment and retention front of mind for most within the professions. We previously reported how large sign on bonuses were being offered to personnel throughout Melbourne city and suburban firms, whilst also hearing from regional firms about the loss of staff to industry. Some northern NSW firms even reporting losing staff to Gold Coast firms. Additionally, many who depended on the outsourcing or offshoring of work to staff oversees found they too were experiencing difficulties in the second half of last year due to localised restrictions impacting on those personnel. So, as a profession, it’s all going on.

So, to then add to this, various locations through Australia, however mostly up and down the eastern seaboard, have been impacted by lockdowns, some extending for months. Talking with practitioners, and listening to the commentary more broadly, the ability to work from home has worked well for some and not so well for others. Reportedly, productivity has remained similar or slightly better, although there appears to now be less delineation between work and personal hours. It would also be interesting to see how efficiency faired during this time with the increased distractions of family, pets, chores, and the like, all front and centre to interrupt work focus and concentration. Regardless of the outcomes, it seems WFH is here to stay; we will just need to develop processes and procedures to help all parties achieve the desired goals.

More recently, as the regions came out of the last lockdown, boarders opened, both nationally and internationally, and governments advised it was now time to learn to live with COVID, families and businesses alike, have been significantly impacted by the rolling number of families and staff sick with, or having to isolate as a close contact of, COVID. I don’t think I have spoken to one firm in the past couple of months that has reported a good proportion of its personnel and partners off work with COVID. For some, it’s been as high as 30% – 40% COVID related leave at any one time. You would think, with all those recent rates of infection that a broader immunity would be developed across firms, but seemingly not at this time.  

Thus, as we approached our major tax lodgement deadlines and the end of the financial year, I wondered how all of these events had impacted, if at all, on firms’ abilities to meet their lodgement deadlines. Were firms in Melbourne the most under the pump with their lodgements and Perth practices least impacted? Were those locations which experienced the most significant and repeated lockdowns the greatest to be influenced? Or have firms from all over Australia been challenged this year with their lodgements? I would be really interested to hear. Please share your thoughts and experiences.

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