COVID and the Work Environment: What Does it Look Like in the Denver Metro Area?

At TGRP Solutions, we talk often with our clients about how the pandemic has affected them. There isn’t a business in Colorado—or across the country—that hasn’t felt some impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, but if there’s one thing that has suddenly become more commonplace for many businesses, it is the introduction of remote working.

Generally, we hear one of three arrangements among our clients, which include some of the largest/publicly traded companies in Denver as well as privately owned businesses:

Clients that went fully remote in March 2020 and are still fully remote

Clients that went fully remote in March 2020 but have since adapted to more of a hybrid schedule, with some employees working in person and others working remotely

Clients that went fully remote in March 2020 and have called back employees to return to the office

A glance at the news websites tells the story of an empty downtown Denver, just as many other large metropolitan areas across the U.S. are experiencing. This Fox31 article says that during Q4 2020, the United States had its third-worst quarter on record for office space demand (according to Denver-based CBRE).

And here in the Mile High City, vacancies are high—16.8% vacant in Denver and 19.7% vacant in downtown Denver as of Q4 2021, in fact. That’s worse than the U.S. downtown office average vacancy of 15.1% (16% for U.S. cities). CPR shared in May 2021 that there was a whopping 1.9 million square feet of office space in Denver out for sublease—a jump of 48% from when the pandemic hit in March 2020.

Are Companies Returning to the Office More in 2021?

Now that it’s fall 2021, and the Delta variant of COVID-19 is in full force (and mask mandates back in place in some places), are companies returning to in-person working as we all assumed they would (many even announcing those plans)?

Not exactly. In fact, many businesses are in the midst of some difficult times, trying to determine what the right thing to do is. Twitter went full remote in October 2020. Apple is pushing a hybrid model, with teams working three days in the office, two days remote. This BusinessInsider article shares a list of companies that extended their remote work policies for the long term. Google was calling employees back to the office in September 2021, but delayed that mandatory return to January 10, 2022 just this past week. The company said it will require employees who return to work to be vaccinated.

Here in Colorado, we’re facing the same thing: companies currently making decisions with new information and new risks to weigh (because of the Delta variant). This CBS4 article talks about how many Coloradoans are seeking to change careers and find the flexibility that the pandemic offered them (or more accurately, forced upon them). We too have seen that companies that are forcing employees to return to the workplace with no flexible options are experiencing pushback and even some turnover.

Not Every Company Can Offer Remote Options.

The accounting and finance industry is one that lends itself well to remote working and we are seeing the vast majority of TGRP Solutions clients offering some form of flexibility to employees.  That said, not every company can accommodate this. There are some that did not have the digital infrastructure in place to continue remote very easily, and some whose businesses require people to work in person as often as possible.

Time Will Tell.

Like most areas of the country, Denver is experiencing a lot of uncertainty regarding the traditional workplace. Two years ago, most clients of ours at TGRP Solutions were traditional regarding work arrangements. They had offices where employees went every day to do their jobs, with a few exceptions.

Today is a different story, and even though it seemed that the worst of COVID-19 was behind us several months ago, the surge of the Delta variant is changing things once again.

This CPR article sums it up well: foot traffic downtown is nowhere near what it was pre-pandemic, but it is more than it was a year ago. The fall 2021 return-to-office plan that many businesses in Denver and around the U.S. had penciled is out the window for now.

Reopening Plans Will Likely Include Flexibility.

If there’s one thing that seems to be true, it is that office life has changed forever. Some companies have abandoned their office spaces, while others have scaled back and committed to remote work in some capacity going forward.

If you’re a professional looking to change jobs, this is certain to be a factor that you consider when evaluating future employers. Where remote work was once an uncommon perk, it is now an expectation among many accounting and finance professionals we work with.

If you’re a company looking to hire, things have gotten more complicated because of these changes. Interviewees might want to understand your short-term and long-term plans, even if you don’t have those ironed out yet. Your traditional idea of an office has obviously shifted, and it certainly has for the professional as well.

One thing is certain: nothing is certain! But if you’re looking to make your next career move and want to understand the landscape here in Denver, or you’re an employer wanting to understand how things have changed as far as employee expectations, call us. We’ll share what we know so you can stay apprised of this ever-changing conversation!

What’s Happening in the Denver Job Market?

At TGRP Solutions, we’re always keeping an eye on the job market here in the Mile High City. Anyone paying attention hears how “hot” Denver is and hears often about the strong housing market—rising home prices and the dramatic increase of home sales between 2020 and 2021 (starting well before that)—but exactly how strong is the economy in Colorado and Denver if you are job seeking?

Here are a few signs of the times that this is a good place to be searching for a job (and a good place to be looking for talent if you are a business that’s hiring):

Companies are still coming here. A quick perusal of the Denver Business Journal shows you that many companies continue to locate in the Centennial state:

·      Australian company Finder announced in June 2021 that Denver would be a second U.S. hub.

·      Palantir Technologies moved to Denver from Palo Alto in mid-2020.

·      FileInvite, which was founded in New Zealand, selected Colorado as its U.S. headquarters in June 2021.

·      And just last month, business-to-business payment platform Melio picked Colorado as its western U.S. headquarters.

These are just a few examples, but you get the picture. Read a much longer list of companies opening offices in Denver assembled by the Metro Denver Economic Development Council.

Smart people live here. More than 41% of metro Denver residents hold bachelor’s degrees or better. The lifestyle, weather and comparative cost of living (against cities in California and New York, for example) mean many of the best and brightest are attracted to this beautiful state and its variety of industries: aerospace, bioscience, energy, investment services, IT, and others.

Prosperity abounds (on several scales). The Metro Denver Economic Development Council shared in its “Toward a More Competitive Colorado 2020” report a few notable rankings about Colorado:

·      U.S. News & World Report ranked Colorado as the Top State Economy in 2020 for the 4th year in a row.

·      The Brookings Institute in 2020 identified that metro Denver was the only U.S. community that grew across four major indices: growth, prosperity, inclusion and inclusion by race.

·      The Milken Institute ranks Colorado 2nd nationally for top science and technology hubs (considering factors such as research and development inputs, risk capital and entrepreneurial infrastructure, human capital investment, technology and science workforce, and tech concentration and dynamism.

·      U.S. News & World Report ranked four Colorado communities in the top five places to live: Boulder (No. 1), Denver (No. 1), Colorado Springs (No. 4) and Fort Collins (No. 5). No wonder people love coming here!

There is a high concentration of accounting jobs in Colorado. If you’ve heard that Colorado is a great state for those in the accounting field, you’re correct. The Bureau of Labor Statistics backs this up too. Colorado ranked as having the second-highest concentration of accountant/auditor jobs in the country. The annual mean wage? $85,120. And among the top 10 metro areas with the highest concentration of jobs and location quotients (the ratio of area concentration to the national average concentration), two of them are in Colorado: Denver/Aurora/Lakewood and Boulder.

Colorado remains a strong economy and here at TGRP Solutions, we’re seeing it too. If you’re job hunting or just like to keep tabs on the job market, contact us. We’ll share more about the employers we work with that are hiring, our outlook on the future and more. 

How TGRP Consultants Can Help the CFO Organization

TGRP has a robust consulting practice that works with all types of businesses that are in a variety of stages. When you are growing rapidly or navigating challenging times, you might need additional support. We understand. Our consulting team consists of seasoned CPAs with an average of 15+ years of experience, most with Big 4 public accounting in their backgrounds. We work on many different types of projects—from process improvement to IPO readiness to technical accounting and SEC reporting projects (and beyond).

Advocates and advisors

Our consultants are more than just plug-and-play contractors. Our consultants are permanent employees of TGRP Solutions and consulting is their full-time job (not just a stop along the way as they look for permanent employment elsewhere). They’re your allies and advocates. They bring expertise to your organization, help you through challenging situations and because they’re permanent employees of TGRP Solutions, they can return to client organizations as needed which reduces risk and creates efficiency for our clients. We’re accustomed to taking the lead to guide our clients, but we can also integrate seamlessly into your team into more of a supporting role. Whatever you need, we can provide.

 TGRP Consultants at a glance

Many of our consultants have been with TGRP for several years, and our projects can range from a few months to several years long. Here are a few examples of consultants on our bench:

  • VP of Finance – This individual has worked as a VP of finance and has achieved excellent results re-engineering key financial processes for various organizations. They are skilled in Oracle, Hyperion and Excel and bring biotechnology, manufacturing, distribution, software, healthcare and consumer packaged goods industry experience to the table.
  • Fortune 1000/middle market pro – This TGRP consultant was a senior accounting manager for a global, publicly traded telecom company prior to joining TGRP. They are skilled with many different types of ERP software, including Oracle, SAP, JD Edwards and many others, and recently completed an ASC606 revenue recognition project for a software company and served as an interim accounting manager for an oil and gas company.
  •  SEC reporting expert – Prior to joining TGRP, this individual was the director of SEC reporting, technical accounting and consolidations for a worldwide, publicly traded retailer. With a Big 4 background, this consultant is perfect for IPO support and technical accounting projects and recently stepped into a role to develop SEC reporting processes and procedures, file Ks and Qs, research SEC and GAAP disclosure requirements and more.
  • Big 4 and big company professional – This individual has been consulting with TGRP for over three years and has stepped in as an acting controller in a company in desperate need of accounting process improvement, dramatically improving many different processes. They have also acted as a SOX project manager, completed a restatement project for a Fortune 100 telecom company, developed audit plans and tested controls for Fortune 500 companies to ensure SOX compliance and more. This consultant previously worked in Big 4 public accounting and several publicly traded companies with Denver offices.
  • Energy and telecom authority – During this consultant’s tenure with TGRP, they have worked frequently with an energy company as a SOX consultant, rewriting ITGC narratives, completing entity-level controls testing, doing COSO framework and mapping, and more. They have also helped a global telecom organization with everything from building new reconciliations to digging into fixed assets to SOX documentation and controls updates.

You get the idea: we have many experienced professionals on our team who are capable of everything from audit support to general ledger cleanup, from technical accounting research to augmenting your accounting team during month-end close.

These professionals have managed teams large and small and many of them have audit backgrounds in public accounting. Some have worked as senior associates, while others have led accounting and finance teams for big organizations. We are proud of our team here at TGRP and our high standards. We always want to ensure that our clients who need support can trust that any TGRP consultant they work with will meet—and hopefully exceed—their expectations.

What kind of support do you require? Are you…

  • Looking to improve your reporting processes?
  • Needing internal audit support?
  • Needing to fill a gap while a team member is out on leave for a set period of time?
  • Going through an IPO or considering doing so?
  • Needing an expert to advise you on correct revenue recognition rules and ongoing compliance?
  • Struggling with sloppy processes due to being understaffed?

We can help. Learn more about what our TGRP consulting team  can do for you as you navigate today’s ever-changing, fast-paced business environment!