In this new age and time of the “new normal,” auditing too is taking a turn towards working remotely. Though the physical presence of the auditor or the auditee is not necessary, what is needed is useful and meaningful communication between the teams involved, the department of audit, and the auditee. Mindful communication amongst the people involved builds trust, and working together becomes more comfortable.
Communicating with the audit department:
The ease of interaction within the audit department that comes with an office environment may be lost in a remote setting. The ease with which we have a casual conversation with our colleagues in an office environment can be achieved through regular interactions, timely check-ins with the group, and frequent, planned meetings. The meetings should be informative and productive;hence, planning them is crucial.
These gatherings can be made interactive and fun by scheduling certain minor events such as a virtual tea party or happy hours,or can they can also be converted into a virtual team lunch/dinner. Keeping things engaging and informal will help bond the team members better,helping them know, understand each other and eventually build trust, which is highly essential for any organization to run smoothly.
Communicating with the team:
Though working in any setting doesn’t change the lifecycle of an audit, having both formal and informal conversations with the team helps them know that they can rely on someone for help or assistance. Formal check-ins to ensure that the assigned tasks will be delivered on the agreed timeline and informal check-ins to keep the team motivated and help them reach out to you in case they’re facing any challenges or shortcomings.
Working in a remote setting doesn’t come naturally to everyone,and hence, it is upon the management to tailor the communication needs according to their team and team members’ abilities. Some organizations are highly comfortable working remotely. However, a few need communication with their leadership to know more about their work expectations. Looking at the current scenario of the world, companies should work more towards making almost all of their employees comfortable working remotely.
Communicating with the auditee:
Just like the other teams, communicating clearly and timely with the auditee is vital. Having a conversation with the auditee as and when necessary helps them be aligned with the auditing
process. These conversations with the auditee are required to highly formal. Communication with the auditee could be thought an email, a phone call, or a video call. If the conversation is through an email or on the phone, the auditee should be handheld through the entire discussion,helping them understand the nuances of the audit and sharing all the required links and documents for their understanding is needed. However, if the meeting is virtual, a video call then, the auditee can have a look at the detailed information on a screen,helping them understand better,leaving less to no room for miscommunication. A virtual meeting is a best and most effective way of communicating with an auditee;it is highly recommended too.
Sending an email, conversation on the phone, or sending a text to the auditee is less effective as a nonverbal communication helps understand the extent of an auditee’s grasping, their facial expression, and the need for adding or removing details. An email and phone conversation is less valid and reduces communication experience.
Remote conversations should not ideally exceed more than 30-60 minutes in length. It is needed that the meeting invite should have the agenda of the meeting, any necessary links for reference, and expectation of the inviting party such as the attire, if it needs to be formal or could be informal, the camera needs to be turned on, etc. It is best if both the parties, the inviter, and the invitee join the call 2-3 minutes before the scheduled time,as that would show the respect that both the parties share towards each other. Also, being present on time helps wrap the meeting on time in a planned manner leaving room for any essential discussions, if required.
It is expected of the invitee to be on the call before the invitee joins so that they have time to set things up and be ready with the presentation. The presentation can be made using tools such as Google slides or PowerPoint, which are the most popular software used. Before beginning the meeting,it is appreciable if the agenda of the meeting and the topics that will be discussed are made manifest. Also, a crisp introduction of everyone who has joined the conference from both parties.
Since this is a remote conversation, a video call, establishing a face-to-face contact can be challenging but recommended. The same can be achieved by switching the camera on and talking to the person on the other side of the camera, when not presenting the slide. Looking at the auditee while explaining the contents of the slides helps read their facial expressions and know if they need to intend to converse. Understanding the auditee’s requirements beforehand helps build a healthy relationship.
Working remotely is not a conventional method yet;however, it is something that the world is moving towards and is looking forward to it. To overcome any awkwardness with the auditee, practice with the internal teams, tools, and software before the actual meeting would help in having better communication.