Posts Tagged ‘technology’

Did You Unplug This Summer?

Friday, August 26th, 2016
Vacation Time | Unplug From Work | Ohio CPA Firm

Employees shouldn’t be afraid of the off switch. Those who are overworked are oftentimes less productive and generally less happy, but time off can provide renewed energy to return refreshed and ready to take on whatever may come your way. For example, this season, find some time to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends. Keep reading to learn more.

As the summer is winding down, you are probably finding yourself preparing for fantasy and college football, bracing for pumpkin spice everything, and seeing the school buses out and about. Before you transition to your fall routine, it’s important to take a moment to reflect on the summer months.

The months of June, July, and August are synonymous with family vacations. School’s out. The weather is warm. The beach seems to be calling your name. Did you take advantage of the vacation time this year or was your work laptop nestled in with your luggage? You know, just in case…

If you are like a lot of business professionals, you have probably found yourself suffering from an inability to unplug from work. In the age of smartphones and laptops, we are finding ourselves more connected than ever before. And this increased connectivity has made it harder than ever to unplug from our professional selves.

It’s important to remember that your vacation is part of your compensation package. Not only do you work hard to earn a paycheck, you work hard to earn time away from the office – which means you’ve also earned the luxury of completely stepping away from technology – but it’s not going to be easy.

I recently read an article from CGMA Magazine that outlined five tips to help professionals getting more out of their time away from the office. In fact, the tips were so good that I wanted to pass them along!

  1. Embrace a pro-vacation culture
    If your employee handbook and company culture call out the importance of vacations, embrace the mantra and take the time allotted to you to recharge. Vacations aren’t just great for you, they can be very good for business as well! Well-rested employees are happier and more productive. So go ahead…book your next trip guilt free!
  2. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail
    If you are planning a two-week family vacation, you probably have a good idea when you will want to take it. Your employer should be kept in the loop too. Oftentimes, managers have no problem with long vacations – as long as they have enough time to plan for your absence. Once you have settled on which dates you need to take off, share that information with your manager and colleagues. It’s also good practice to set aside some time to meet with you manager on your first day back. This will help you catch up on important projects or issues you may have missed.
  3. Delegate work
    Work with your team to determine who is best suited to take the lead on key projects while you are out. This will help mitigate interruptions in productivity while you are away. Your vacation can also serve as a very important gauge for managers, as they will have an opportunity to evaluate whether the second-in-command might be ready to assume more responsibility in the future.
  4. Turn off the light…and the phone…and the laptop
    If you want to make the most of your vacation, set up your out of office email message and step away from the tech. If you don’t, you will be drawn into its bright, electronic glow. Managers have to be ready to play a huge part in changing the company’s culture. If checking in with work is necessary, establish one short window each day when you’ll be reachable and stick to it.
  5. Relax!
    While you are on vacation – regardless of how long or short it may be – you are allowed (and expected) to put your work worries aside. Once you do, you will return to your job feeling more energized and ready to tackle tough projects.

In other words, employees shouldn’t be afraid of the off switch. Those who are overworked are oftentimes less productive and generally less happy, but time off can provide renewed energy to return refreshed and ready to take on whatever may come your way.

If you are planning on taking some time off work this fall, take advantage of these tips. But if you are holding out for next year’s summer vacation with the family, save this article and make it a point to refer to it again later. That way, the next time you leave work for pleasure you will be able to unplug from technology and vacation like a pro!

By Nathan Esselburn, CPA (Dublin office)

Check out these articles for additional insight into some of the best habits of business owners.

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Research & Development Credit Benefits Businesses Of All Sizes

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015
Plan For The Future - Rea & Associates - Ohio CPA Firm

While the 2014 tax season is now over, it’s never too early to start strategizing to secure future tax savings. For example, have you thought about improving your current processes to become more efficient? Believe it or not, taking steps to make your company “lean” may be just what you need to qualify for future tax savings.

If you own a small-to-midsize company, you probably haven’t given much thought to how the Research & Development (R&D) tax credit could help you. You might even think that the R&D credit is reserved for big businesses with tons of money to spare on technological investments. If so, then you may want to change your thought process and your business strategy.

Planning ahead is a great way to save your company’s tax dollars and there are many successful strategies from which to choose.
Click here to find out if you should be making a big purchase for your company that will help cut your tax bill.

The R&D tax credit applies to more than just businesses that have research facilities. In fact, many businesses across a range of industries may qualify for this valuable credit, but instead of asking their financial advisor for guidance, they give in to the misconception that they are not “big enough” or that they have not “big enough investments in technology.”

I recommend you avoid this mindset at all costs.

Plan For The Future

While the 2014 tax season is now over, it’s never too early to start strategizing to secure future tax savings. For example, have you thought about improving your current processes to become more efficient? Believe it or not, taking steps to make your company “lean” may be just what you need to qualify for future tax savings.

Are you familiar with Lean Six Sigma and how it can help you improve efficiency and effectiveness?
Read: Can You Explain The Concept Of Waste In Lean Six Sigma? to learn more.

According to consulting firm Smart Devine, in order to qualify for the R&D credit, your company must engage in an activity or initiative that:

  • Is technological in nature – Meaning it must rely on at least one of the following: physical sciences, biological sciences, computer science and engineering.
  • Is being conducted for a permitted purpose – Meaning that it must be intended to improve functionality, performance, reliability and quality.
  • Involves the elimination of uncertainty – Meaning the activity must be intended to identify information required to eliminate technical uncertainty.
  • Involves an experimentation process – Meaning that there must be some elements of experimentation, such as trial and error testing, prototyping, development and analysis of hypothesis.

The expenses that will be used to calculate the credit include your wages for research, supplies and contract research expenses.

Still Not Sure?

OK, so maybe you haven’t committed to an extensive lean-oriented strategy yet. That’s alright. There are many ways to qualify for this credit. Start by asking yourself the following four questions:

  1. Are you constantly developing new products or altering old products for new uses?
  2. Have you had a lean event to try and increase the productivity of a manufacturing facility, a single manufacturing line, or even a specific machine?
  3. Have you developed internal software because you couldn’t find one that met your needs on the market?
  4. Do you constantly develop prototypes to make sure your machines can produce a product that meets customer specifications?

If you answered yes to any one of these scenarios, chances are good that you will qualify for the credit.

Next Steps

If you do indeed qualify to receive the R&D credit, make an extra effort to maintain adequate records to substantiate the credit. This may seem daunting, but you are probably gathering the necessary information already. You probably just need to filter or tweak what you are already doing.

Email Rea & Associates to learn more about the Research & Development Credit and how to identify expenses that could qualify while promoting your company’s overall growth and sustainability. You may also be eligible to claim the R&D credit retroactively, contact us to learn more.

By Ben Froese, CPA (Wooster office)

 

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