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Open for discussion

by Anna Sharratt

Call it the big open-office rethink.  Though the design is still popular, employers are starting to notice its flaws.

Christopher Chapman has strolled through his share of open offices.  The Toronto-based president of Derailleur Consulting coaches firms on how to manage their software teams more effectively, and has seen how blowing open and office – removing cubicles and closed-door offices, and pooling different groups of people together in collaborative spaces – can backfire.

At one firm that massed its tech employees in one large room at communal tables, “the noise level was the most interesting thing. It increased through the day,”  says Chapman.  “People pulled out their Beats headphones – they were using them to dull the noise.”  Ironically, following the office redesign, employees had been gifted the $300 headphones by their firm as a Christmas bonus.

Chapman says that although certain groups enjoy working in these hubs (where many are separated solely by computer monitors) the more introverted staffers, those who make private calls as part of their duties or employees who perform high-level task that require a lot of attention are at a disadvantage.  “Some people thrive in this environment, but many can’t,” he says.  “There’s a lack of focused attention.  That runs counter to a sense of collaboration.”


The concept of open-office design, which peaked in the 1960s, has been picked up wholeheartedly by Canadian organizations in the past 10 years, with many new entrants, including high-profile accounting firms, in the past five.

What’s the perceived ROI?  may buy into the idea that open offices require less space (which drives down real estate cost), improve efficiencies and boost productivity, says Jennifer Vetch, an environmental psychologist and principal research officer at the National Research Council of Canada in Ottawa.  “That’s the simple economic driver”.



This article is reproduced from CPA Magazine, April 2016 issue, with permission of the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada, Toronto, Canada.

Any changes to the original material are the sole responsibility of EPR Canada Group Inc. and have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada.

Halifax, NS Recent Destination for EPR Canada Members


Sandy Pearce presenting to the members

Sandy Pearce presenting to the members

Halifax, NS was the recent destination for EPR Canada’s 2016 Best Practices Meetings. Held at the beautiful Prince George Hotel, the 2 days of meetings on June 2 & 3 were full of valuable professional development sessions, networking opportunities and social events for EPR Canada members, staff and guests.  The first day of PD sessions started with a morning of discussions and presentations lead by EPR members, Sandy Pearce, Patrick Smith, Elaine Stairs and David Holmes who shared their experiences for growth, continuation and valuation of accounting practices.  The afternoon was devoted to tax topics by EPR Canada’s Tax Committee members, Dave Armstrong, Adam Plank and Aaron Rumley.  Guest Speaker Michael Ell, CPA, CGA started us off on Day 2 with a standards update and the meeting was capped off in the afternoon with a review of member statistics and general discussion topics by Sheralynne Merritt and Verle Spindor, and updates on EPR Canada matters by our President and ED, Paul Walker and Jeannine Brooks.

EPR Canada members enjoying a Brewmaster Dinner at The Lower Deck

EPR Canada members enjoying a Brewmaster Dinner at The Lower Deck

The members were treated to a Brewmaster Dinner on Thursday evening at the historical Lower Deck, with each course prepared with a local beer and paired with a beer sampler.  A fitting venue for our meetings in the beautiful city of Halifax!

What Should I do if CRA Arbitrarily Assesses My Tax Return?

Canada Revenue Agency’s (“CRA’s”) arbitrary tax assessment, commonly known as notional or involuntary assessment is when you have not yet filed your tax return by the required deadline, usually April 30th for individuals, or June 15th for self-employed people, and CRA completes an assessment on your behalf by estimating (guessing) your income.� Such assessment is usually not in your best interest and usually results in taxes payable as well as associated penalty and interest.

There are a few ways CRA can have access to your unreported income information.� For example, tax slips could have been filed by someone else, or calls have been made to CRA[i].� Reporting of the tax evasion is most often used as a revenge for unreported income by former spouses or former business partners.

Once you have been involuntary assessed, you need to file a return right away as this may result in less taxes owing.� It is a good idea to retain a professional accountant who can assist you with the filing, as well as making installment arrangements with CRA on your behalf.

If you have received an arbitrary assessment and need assistance, please contact one of our tax professionals at 705.722.4272 or fill out the contact form on the right.

[i] Tax evasions can be reported via internet, by telephone, mail, or fax, or by visiting one of CRA�s tax services offices.

By David Holmes CPA, CA, CBV. a partner with our member firm Rumley Holmes LLP, Chartered Professional Accountants, of  Barrie, ON.



Out of office

by Sydney Loney

Here are some tips on how to lead effectively when you work from home.

“You’d be amazed at some of the places I’ve opened my laptop,” says Shabir Ladha, a partner at KBH Chartered Accountants in Edmonton.  “I’ve even worked in the stands during my daughter’s cheerleading competitions.”

When Ladha started with the firm 16 years ago, no one telecommuted.  Now, of the nine partners at KBH, all but one work remotely several days a week.  “The more senior you get, the more you do it because of the flexibility the job requires, the demands it puts on you and the nature of the work in general,” he says.  “Thanks to technology, I can turn any space into an office and work anywhere I need to.”

The days of spending nine to five in a traditional office environment are coming to an end, says Navroz Surani, the Toronto-based director of human resources for Pakistan’s Aga Khan University.  What’s more, it’s becoming more commonplace for managers to make hiring decisions without even glancing at their prospective hires’ locations.  “With globalization and new technology, businesses increasingly have more virtual teams and employees working in different places.”  The problem, Surani says, is that many managers use the same approach they used when they could just poke their head into employees’ offices and engage with them face-to-face.  “Most companies haven’t prepared their employees for how to interact virtually.  You need to make a conscious effort to keep everyone engaged because it doesn’t happen automatically anymore,” he says.  “Remote members need to feel very much a part of the organization.”

When Susan Hopkinson was hired as COO of Crowe Soberman LLP in Toronto nine years ago, there was resistance to telecommuting.  Read more…...


This article is published from CPA Magazine, March 2016 issue, with permission of the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada, Toronto, Canada.

Any changes to the original material are the sole responsibility of EPR Canada Group Inc. and have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chartered Professional Accountants.