TMA02 Tidy Books Bookkeeping Solutions Case

Tidy Books Bookkeeping Solutions

Written by Anja Schaefer

In 2011 Laura Randles started Tidy Books Bookkeeping Solutions, a small business that provides bookkeeping services to other firms. She still is the sole owner of the business and runs it herself. Her clients are predominantly other small and micro-businesses. Many of them are based in the same area as Tidy Books but some come from all over the United Kingdom. Laura employs five full-time qualified bookkeepers. She employs three further bookkeepers on a flexible, part-time basis. Their working hours average 20 hours a week but vary significantly depending on demand. In the busiest period between December and January, the part-time bookkeepers can work for up to 50 hours a week, with much lower weekly working hours at other times of the year. Laura herself does most of the work around acquiring new customers and keeping customers happy, but she also employs a part-time sales manager, who works 20 hours per week. Much of the regular contact with clients is done by the bookkeeper who works on that client’s accounts. In order to keep the office running smoothly, she also employs a full-time office manager.

Up to March 2020, Laura, the full time bookkeepers and the office manager all worked out of a small office space in a building next to Laura’s home. The bookkeepers would also regularly visit some clients who lived in the area and preferred the direct personal contact with the person doing their accounts. In the office space, Laura and the office manager each had a small office to themselves. There are two further offices, which were shared by two of the full-time bookkeepers each. The part-time bookkeepers did much of their work from home but came into the office at least once a week, when they had use of three hot-desks. These were located in an open-plan space that connects the other offices. That open plan space also has a meeting area and a small kitchen area. The sales manager spent much of his time travelling to clients and working from home, but also came in once a day for about half a day, when he also had access to one of the hot desks.

Laura liked to start and finish each working day with a short staff meeting, which were attended by all full-time members of staff and any part-time staff who worked in the office that day. She expected all members of staff to attend at least one staff meeting a week.

Working hours for the full-time bookkeepers and the office manager were from 9 to 5, five days a week. When the workload was very high, they would sometimes stay in the office longer, or take work home at the end of the working day. The hours worked in addition to the normal working day were taken as leave at other, quieter times of the year. The part-time bookkeepers worked flexible hours, which were agreed at the end of each week for the following week. In accordance with UK law, each full-time member of staff is entitled to 20 days of paid leave per year. Part-time members of staff are entitled to 10 days of paid leave per year.

From late March 2020, with the start of the global Covid-19 pandemic, working arrangements at Tidy Books changed considerably, the same as for many other businesses. As bookkeeping is a job that can be done remotely from different locations, Laura decided that all members of staff should work from home for the duration of the lockdown. As the pandemic continued, Tidy Books employees all continued to work from home. This situation continues at present.

Initially, Laura was very pleased with how she saw all members of staff making extra efforts to make the homeworking a success and keep the business running. Business continued to come in. Although some clients had reduced their operations due to the pandemic, they still needed bookkeeping services, so Laura’s business was not affected at that time. Since then, however, several of the small businesses who were Laura’s clients have failed due to reduced demand during the pandemic. Rather than making any of her own staff redundant, Laura decided to reduce the working hours of some of the part-time bookkeepers, particularly those who were working more than 20 hours a week on a regular basis.

Laura and the office manager were quite concerned that it would be difficult to manage her employees in the same manner as before if everybody worked from home and nobody came into the office. They decided to still run the daily staff meetings and to have two half-hour online meetings, attended by all members of staff, one at 9.00 and one at 16.30. The office manager would also check in with each member of staff individually by video link once a day, to make sure everybody knew what they were working on and that work progressed as planned. This was in addition to email contact as needed. Most members of staff would receive several emails a day from Laura or from Tina, the office manager.

Despite these efforts, Tina began to notice that members of staff were slower to respond to emails after several months of working from home and that work wasn’t always completed as quickly as before. Laura also noticed that staff often looked tired or distracted during the twice-daily team meetings and many were joining the conference call at the last minute. The team meetings, particularly those in the afternoon, were also frequently interrupted by team members’ children coming into the room where their parent was working, and asking questions.

At the annual appraisal meetings in early 2021, Laura therefore decided to take some time asking each team member how they had been and how the new working arrangements were working for them. Here is what some of them told her:

Phil, part-time bookkeeper:

My wife is self-employed and her business has been suffering really badly during lockdown. I also understand that business has been a bit slow here and why you had to reduce my working hours from 30 to 25 hours a week on average. But because of that we’re struggling financially. We were wanting to do something to our house and we’re considering starting a family. We may have to put this on hold until we can both earn a bit more money. So, yeah, life is a bit tough at the moment.

Anna, full-time bookkeeper:

I had Covid in autumn 2020 and then my partner fell ill as well. She’s still feeling quite poorly, I think it’s long Covid. I’m still feeling a bit weak myself. I’m not sure what plans I have for my career at the moment, I’m just trying to get by week-by-week. We also have a young daughter and I need to make sure she does all her school work and gets to go out in the park for some time each day. By the time I get to late afternoon, I just want to make our evening meal and then go to sleep. I wish we didn’t always have the late afternoon team meetings as that is the time when I really need to juggle a lot of things.

Sue, full-time bookkeeper:

To be honest, I miss coming into the office and seeing my colleagues. The twice-daily team meetings don’t really make up for that social contact we used to have. Other than that I’m okay, I suppose. Not that I have any big plans career wise; I’m 62, I just want to see how things are when we get back to the office and then I’ll see.

John, full-time bookkeeper:

Life is both a bit boring and a bit crazy at the moment. My partner also works full time and has a lot of business meetings all day. So I try to fit in my work between looking after our two school-age children. To be honest, I could do with reducing my hours a bit. I had really hoped that working from home would give me a bit more flexibility and also that I’d save the half hour each morning and afternoon commuting to the office. But that time is all eaten up by family commitments. Also, working from home is difficult as I get interrupted so much. The constant emails, twice-daily meetings and then the video calls with Tina don’t really help. I can see that we need to make sure everyone is working okay but they eat into my productive time. While I’m in a meeting, I can’t actually do work for a client.

Sarah, part-time bookkeeper:

I work 20 hours a week, and that hasn’t changed. So that’s fine with me. But I’ve noticed that my time now seems far more strictly structured, with the team meetings in the morning and the afternoon. I know they took place before, in the office, but then I only had to take part if I was working from the office on that morning or afternoon. So now I feel like I’m working part time but I still need to be present first thing in the morning and last thing in the afternoon. So, I’m finding it really hard to plan my work so that it’s really only part time. I could also do with fewer internal emails as they always take some time to answer to and, to be honest, I find it a bit too much. I’ve been doing this for quite some time, so I think you could probably trust me a bit more to get on with the work for the clients.

Lara, full-time bookkeeper:

As you know, I’d like to keep training and get my other accounting qualifications so that I can be a fully qualified financial accountant at some point, not just a bookkeeper. But I’ve put this on hold for a bit as I’m just so tired at the moment. I think it’s also that I’m quite anxious about the whole situation, worried that I might catch Covid, or what is happening with my old parents. I also rarely see anybody, what with lockdown and working from home, and living on my own. It was better when we all came into the office, it was nicely social. I hope we get back to that in the future. I think I’m sometimes a bit short on the phone when Tina calls, because I’m just so tired. I kind of like that she calls, because it’s a social contact, but then I also worry whether I’ve done all the work I needed to do that day.

Part 1

  • How have you used the feedback you received from your tutor on TMA01 to help you prepare TMA02. Give one concrete example of how feedback from TMA01 has informed what you have written in TMA02.

[Guidance to students:

Here you should select one piece of feedback you have received on TMA01 and then explain how you have used this to improve your work on TMA02. Be specific in explaining how the feedback has helped you to address one or several tasks in TMA02.]

(Approximately 100 words)

Part 2

[Guidance to students:

Start your answer by briefly introducing Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and Vroom’s expectancy theory. Briefly say what these theories are about. Use your own words as much as possible and make sure you add references to Block 2 materials.

Then explain what you think caused the changes in motivation in Laura’s employees, using concepts from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs AND Vroom’s expectancy theory. For example, have some needs changed and/or are no longer satisfied in the changed circumstances? Or have employees’ expectations changed and/or are no longer met?

In analysing the case study, make sure you use concepts from B100 Reading 12explicitly. Also make sure you add references to this reading wherever you are using concepts and ideas that come from it. Go for a bit of detail. For example, don’t just refer to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs but refer to specific elements within that model.]

(Approximately 300 words for this question)

[Guidance to students:

Start your answer by briefly introducing Hackman and Oldham’ Jobs Characteristics model. Briefly say what the model is about. Use your own words as much as possible and make sure you add a reference to Block 2 materials.

Then describe the job design that, as far as you can tell from the case study, applies to the bookkeepers employed by Tidy Books. Go through each element of the model in your analysis. Where there is not enough case information about an element of the model, say so in your answer.]

(Use approximately 300 words for this question)

[Guidance to students:

Start this answer by explaining which areas of the current job design are most likely to lead to a lack of motivation among the bookkeepers. Base your answer here on your analysis of the motivation of the bookkeepers in Q2 and on your analysis of the job design in Q3.

Then make recommendations about changes to one or more core dimension of job design in order to improve one or more psychological state and increase motivation. Make your recommendation specific, i.e. suggest something concrete that Laura could do.]

(Approximately 200 words for this question)

Part 3

  • Explain how you have participated in ONE TGF activity related to Block 2 and what you have learned from participating in that activity.

(Approximately 100 words for this part)

[Guidance to students:

Briefly describe what the TGF discussion was about and how you contributed. To explain what you feel you have learned from participating in this discussion you could try to link the content of the discussion to module concepts, or you could consider how your working practices or your study skills have benefitted from participating in the discussion.]

(Approximately 100 words for this part)


[Guidance to students:

Put the full references to every source you have cited in the text here. Refer to the assignment booklet for the format in which these references should appear. At a minimum, you should cite the relevant B100 Block 4 Readings. To reference the case scenario:

  • In-text reference like: ‘According to Schaefer (2021), …’ OR ‘……. (Schaefer, 2021)’
  • Full reference here: Schaefer, A. (2021) Marketing a new coffee shop in exceptional circumstances. B100 2021J Assessment Booklet

Your tutor or marker must be able to see that you have studied B100. Your main source of information on concepts for this TMA should be the B100 Block 1 Readings and you are expected to cite and reference these here. You can use additional other sources, but these should be supplementary to the B100 Block 1 Readings, not replace them.]

(The references in this reference list do not count towards your word limit)