5 Fixable office issues are sapping time from your workforce – and costing you money.


Time is your most valuable resource, especially when you’re running a busy office. A lack of productivity doesn’t just leave you paying peoples’ salaries without much return – it also saps morale when people need to work late hours or through lunch to accomplish what should be done in the normal work day. Here are five fixable thieves of time in the office.


Going Off-Site

Sometimes, you simply need to go to a client or partner’s office and thrash out an important issue. But not every time. When you look at the time spent on meetings outside the office and the return on that investment, it’s usually obvious that several trips are unnecessary. Especially with established clients, try to arrange one monthly face-to-face meeting where issues of strategy are discussed, and relegate day-to-day matters to the phone, email and Skype.


Meeting Run-Ons

We’ve all been in meetings where the productive business was effectively done in the first twenty minutes, but the room has been booked for an hour and everyone plays along. You can save your time, and that of your employees, by working through an organised agenda, agreeing the consensus or necessary action on each item, and wrapping up once everybody is satisfied. Chairing meetings in this efficient way will free your staff up to work productively elsewhere in the business.


Lunch at the Desk

Some people make it a perverse point of pride to skip lunch as proof of how hard their working. In reality, failing to take a mid-day break saps productivity and morale. Meanwhile, a ‘half lunch’ at the desk blurs the line between rest and work, leading to an extended period of half-hearted effort. Don’t reward or encourage this ostensibly dedicated but ultimately ineffectual carry on, and set an example yourself by getting out of the office at lunchtime.


Unclear Priorities

Organised people get more done. It’s not because they’re inherently more intelligent, creative or dedicated: it’s simply because they know what they’re doing from minute to minute. If you’re working in an environment where priorities shift, and you need to jump from one task to another with little notice, you won’t accomplish half as much as you will when you know your priorities at 9 O’clock and can get stuck into one task after another. make sure your team know what they’re meant to be working on from day to day rather than frantically reacting to unforseen developments.


Personal Sites

The internet is always seen as a major thief of time in the workplace, and it’s easy for otherwise good employees to waste hours on personal browsing. Many large organisations have struggled with this phenomenon. You can take a proscriptive approach by blocking certain sites on company computers, or simply let your staff know that their use is continually monitored – that information alone encourages restraint.


Eamonn Garvey


DCA Accountants and Business Advisors


Having gone to the trouble of finding an investor, you may not want to question your luck. But understanding an investor’s suitability is vital.

Most people don’t like to look gift horses in the mouth. And, having gone through the long process of finding an investor to take your business to the next level, someone offering vital capital seems like quite the horse. However, not all investors are created equal, and tying yourself legally to a bad partner can be a fatal mistake. You need to ask yourself a few questions, therefore, to determine whether an investor is right for you.


Can my investor deliver?

It’s bizarre to think that somebody would commit themselves to investing funds that they do not have. Unfortunately, strange things happen in businesses, and we have seen cases where companies have been left waiting for a cheque that never comes. Do your homework on an investor’s past career and investment history to see whether there are any red flags. A prospective investor may be willing to talk about their past enterprises, and accounts filed with the Companies Registration Office (CRO) will let you check them out.


Does my investor have realistic expectations?

You’re obviously optimistic about your company’s future, and your prospective investor presumably shares that view. It’s important to make sure, however, that his or her optimism is grounded in reality. Your investor’s expectations in terms of growth and profitability need to be in line with your own – otherwise, you risk being tied to a partner who feels let down, maybe even cheated. In this situation, an investor can become obstructive, and create a pretty toxic working environment.


Does my investor’s vision match my own?

People invest in businesses for all sorts of reasons. Some buy in to the strategy of a company, while others see more value in radically realigning the business. Assuming you believe in your business plan, you want to attract the former and be wary of the latter. If an investor is taking a stake in your company where they can dictate or at least influence its direction, you both need to be broadly in agreement about your core business for the foreseeable future, what markets you will target, and products or services you will bring to those markets. Otherwise, you’re signing up to endless disagreements over strategy.


Can my investor add value?

An investor doesn’t need to be an expert in the field to help a business. He or she can have contacts in your targeted market, could offer insight to improve your business internally, or even have an idea for a related product or service that you can offer. Offering this added value isn’t essential for an investor – most entrepreneurs are happy for someone to offer capital and take a hands-off approach. However, you should think about areas of your company that an investor’s skills, contacts or knowledge can improve.


The right investor isn’t just someone willing to stump up cash – it’s somebody with the capital to actually meet their commitments, a realistic expectation regarding their return, and a shared vision for the business. If they can also use their talents to boost your company beyond the bottom line, then you’ve got a winning formula for a long-term partnership. At DCA, we assist many companies going through the process of finding an investor and sealing a deal – our experience has helped numerous businesspeople in entering appropriate partnerships, and avoiding bad ones. Just contact us if you would like to set up an initial, no-obligation meeting.


Eamonn Garvey


DCA Accountants and Business Advisors


Q: My business struggled in the past with meeting tax obligations, and has been selected for an audit covering 2011 and 2012. Having gone through the accounts for these years, I’m pretty confident that there are no problems. However, I’m concerned about a claim made for the 2010 tax year – new guidance issued by Revenue on allowable expenses and subsistence makes me worry that there would be an issue with it. The amount isn’t huge – I could afford to pay any tax bill arising from it – but I’m now somewhat worried that it could result in a significant fine or more problems. Should I disclose it, and what would the likely attitude be.


A: Yes. It might sound glib to say, but paying your taxes is the right thing to do – and, if you leave this to lie, it will be a constant source of stress.


There are very few arguments to support not disclosing the matter. If I were to play Devil’s Advocate, I’d say that Revenue are unlikely to look back into your 2010 accounts if 2011 and 2012 prove squeaky clean. But you’d be taking a major chance – and the longer it lies, the worse it will look.


If Revenue you make this as an unprompted disclosure, then you may be surprised at how flexible they can be. As you explain it, this appears to be a genuine mistake arising  from your misinterpretation of the law in lieu of Revenue guidance – I can’t speak without knowing all the details, but I would be optimistic about your chances of a settlement to pay any outstanding amount with some interest rather than a fine.


If you have been are preparing for this audit and disclosure yourself until now, I’d highly recommend getting professional advice. At DCA, we often go through a client’s books and help clear up issues like this. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you would like an initial, no-obligation meeting to discuss your options.


Declan Dolan

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