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Five things we learned from the Xerocon London breakout sessions


Jul 26, 2022

Xerocon London 2022 boasted everything from inspirational keynotes, to major product announcements, and fantastic guest speakers. But, most importantly, it offered us an opportunity to come together and reconnect with our amazing community. It’s time to take a breath and reflect on an awesome event

With this in mind, we’ll take a look back and share some of our key learnings from the Xerocon London breakout sessions. 

Accountants and bookkeepers can help businesses be more sustainable

During our session on the macro trends impacting small businesses and accountants, Jo Copestake, UK Sales Director, Xero, Kate Hayward, Director of Operations, Xero, and Scott Johnson, Founder of Kung Fu Accounting, discussed the practical steps accountants can take to help clients be more sustainable. 

First, is to carry out sustainability audits. These are all-round assessments of a client’s operations to identify opportunities to improve, whether that’s energy suppliers or consumables (for example, cups, printing or catering).

Second, is supply chain assessments. A review of a client’s top suppliers can establish if there are less expensive and more sustainable options.

And there are more steps that can be taken, including encouraging carbon measurement and management, and active transport policy support to subsidise public transport. 

Most importantly, accountants can remind clients that they can be sustainable businesses if they operate with sustainability as the underlying principle in everything you do.

Tips for providing an inclusive and equitable environment

In the Competing for Talent session, Jen Surtees, Director of People Experience, Xero, spoke about how to provide an inclusive and equitable environment where everyone can bring their whole selves to work and feel like they belong. 

From ensuring you have representative, diverse leadership teams, to building a sense of community with your employees, there are vital steps you can take to deliver an inclusive workplace. 

This includes making sure working spaces allow for inclusion and also support differences, from secluded work spaces, to quiet zones, unisex bathrooms, assisted door opening and more, and ensuring policies align and enable all circumstances and sectionality. For example, making sure parental leave policies don’t refer to gender or gender-based roles.

HMRC delivers its vision

Stuart Miller, Head of Product Compliance and Industry Engagement at Xero, was joined on stage by Joanna Rowland, Director General of Transformation at HMRC, to discuss the next 10 years of HMRC’s digital strategy. 

This vision has three elements. First, for policy, it means a progressive extension of HMRC’s Making Tax Digital (MTD) work. With sole traders and landlords now gearing up for MTD for Income Tax Self Assessment (MTD for ITSA), the government’s push to digitise tax is continuing to gather pace. 

Second, for systems, it means exploring appropriate timing and frequency for the payment of different taxes, and the technology infrastructure needed to support that. 

And finally, for law and practice, it means a reform of the tax administration framework itself. 

Joanna added that this vision will be delivered incrementally and consultatively, and HMRC will involve tax payers, agents, and software providers in taking forward this vision, and work closely with representative bodies, including the Office of Tax Simplification, to develop these elements.

Digital transformation is a marathon, not a sprint

Kat Bond, Xero’s Head of Partner Consulting and Verticals in the UK, was joined by Sheetal Shah, DSK Partners, Fraser Campbell, Azets, Ellie Dignam, BHP, and Ben Steele, Steele Financial Ltd, to discuss digital transformation. 

While this can be daunting for many small businesses and their advisors, the benefits are clear – helping organisations become more nimble, flexible, and responsive. However, achieving these benefits won’t happen overnight. 

First, the panel recommended that businesses start with an ending – a successful transformation needs a shared vision and an idea of where you are trying to get to, and what you’re hoping to achieve.

That said, expecting perfection is unrealistic, so aim for progress, continual improvement and be ready to refine and tweak.

Finally, set achievable goals for yourself and your teams, and build on those goals as you progress through your digital journey.

How to build a culture of wellbeing

In our session on Wellbeing, Liz Crump and Sam Ducker, People Experience Business Partners at Xero, were joined by Steve Peralta, Chief Wellbeing Office at Unmind. They discussed the importance of building a culture that enhances the wellbeing of employees.

The panel tackled how many people still accept that work comes with chronic stress and a negative impact on our mental and emotional wellbeing. In order to address this, organisations need to embrace real, intentional cultural change. 

For many, this means a shift away from seeing the workplace as a productivity machine where employees are inputs that generate outputs. Instead, recognise that a workplace is a living, breathing organism made up of human beings with very real human needs. If these needs aren’t met then humans suffer, and the whole organism suffers too.

So, what conditions does your culture need to foster to best support the health and performance of employees to drive a flourishing organisation? By looking after employee wellbeing, your business as a whole can thrive.

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