Research Outline

Internal and External Audit: Remote Workforce Insights


To inform an audit services startup by providing insights into the current and future state of remote work by remote-ready freelancers in the Global Audit Services space, categorizing internal and external audits, but focusing more on internal audit services in general than services provided by the Big Four firms. Other valued insights could include hourly rates and the adoption of new technologies in this space.

Early Findings

The Current State of Remote Work in the Global Audit Services Space

  • The impact of COVID-19 on several industries led to the restructuring and implementation of new working arrangements, for which working remotely was prominent. For internal audit leaders, setting up structures for remote work in their departments was a vital part of this process.
  • According to a March 2020 poll conducted by the Audit Executive Center of the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA), 96% of internal audit respondents indicated that they had implemented remote working in their businesses.
  • "Industry leaders are also using video-conferencing and file-sharing tools to remain connected and manage work remotely, while some are leveraging technology to conduct virtual audits or portions of them."
  • According to a report by FlexJobs, the demand for remote freelance jobs in accounting and finance is increasing and will be among the most sought-after categories in 2021. This opportunity extends to professionals with tax-filing, finance, and auditing skills.
  • The gig-economy is enabling the outsourcing of short-term contracts, full-time jobs, and freelance work in this space. The increasing need for skilled professionals capable of responding quickly to tech and cyber risks also drove freelance opportunities in the internal audits space.
  • "Experts say there’s going to be a time when it’s just going to make more sense from a business standpoint to call up a service to locate short-term help when it comes to an internal audit task or advisory project. "

Future Projections

  • The rapid changes in work systems and processes in the audit services industry in 2020 led to the accelerated implementation and use of technology to drive communication, collaboration, and productivity, changing the way auditors work, their dependence on technology, and the need for collaboration/teamwork.
  • Some future projections for the state of audit work in the internal audit space include the increased adoption of remote teams, increased job flexibility, increased adoption of enabling technologies, and navigating collaboration and daily work.


  • There are some research areas to exploit regarding the adoption of new technologies in the global audit services industry with a focus on internal audit services. However, there is not a lot of information regarding the state of freelance work within this space. Most industry leaders implemented remote work due to the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Further research could determine if the industry would maintain this structure or if work will return the office or a blend of both.