The last six weeks has been the most overwhelming time I have had in the 16 years since I have been in business. The sheer volume of work created by the current situation which has not only significantly increased the time needed to do payroll four-fold but dealing with the almost continuous telephone calls and emails in that first two weeks from clients who just needed to talk things through and get some advice. I really enjoy talking to clients and supporting them particularly in a situation such as this but I felt under such pressure and so short of time. I know sometimes I probably came across as not my normal self but being the only one in the office I was the one whose concentration was frequently interrupted.
April is always our busiest month of the year with the new tax year for payroll, client year ends and lots of bookkeeping to complete VAT returns and the addition of furloughing and implementing new payroll software really didn't help! We are lucky to be busy when so many businesses cannot trade but of course there will be a knock-on effect for us in time.
But what has kept me going throughout has been my team who have achieved the almost impossible whilst working remotely and clients who have sent messages of appreciation. Those messages of support and understanding were a real boost when less understanding ones just made me want to give up.
No-one outside of payroll will really know how this has been for us and other payroll professionals. I do like to be challenged in my work but so much at once was exhausting and my head became so woolly by 7pm I just had to stop even though I hadn't been able to achieve everything I needed to.
Now we have moved into May I can look back and be really proud of what we did all achieve by the end of the month. We changed payroll software, we completed all our payrolls and submitted the majority of the furlough claims. We also completed most of the bookkeeping work and VAT returns that we would normally do.
Never has so much been done by so few in such a short period of time!
My team have been working remotely which is a challenge in itself when they are used to having everything to hand in the office and working alongside their colleagues. We have talked frequently, particularly over payroll, which has been really important, but even that has added more time than it would if we were all working together in the office.
I know payroll for May will be similarly time consuming as businesses are bringing employees back off furlough for short periods of time before furloughing them again but we do have a few more days this month than last month to prepare payrolls for pay day on the last Friday of the month. And now we know what to expect we can be ready.
I am so appreciative of what my staff have done over the last few weeks and to clients who have taken the time to say thank you. It has meant so much and has helped a very exhausted, and probably very irritable, business owner to keep going. Thank you to all of you including my husband who provided a listening ear, a much needed glass of wine and the opportunity to just sit in the garden for a while when I returned home each day.