Online Degrees

Accounting Skills: A Lesson from The Office

Online DegreesAugust 13, 2015

The Office, an Emmy-award winning television show, is an entertaining example of the day to day work that goes on in the business world. Staged as a mockumentary about a group of employees at a paper company in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the show depicts, in a humorous, fun-loving way, the relationships and wide array of personalities found in a typical office environment. For anyone who would like to pursue an online degree to enhance their accounting skills, observing characters like Angela, Kevin and Oscar may help you to learn a bit about what a financial career entails, and which skills can help you succeed.


Level-headed Oscar is often the calm voice of reason, in contrast to manager Michael's disjointed ramblings. In the season five episode, "The Surplus," Oscar finds a $4,300 budget surplus that must be spent by the end of the day. Michael asks Oscar to elaborate further, saying "Why don't you explain this to me like I'm an eight year old?" Oscar then explains how the surplus came about and offers a solution on how the extra money should be used by suggesting the group purchase a new copier. In the real business world, accountants like Oscar often take on the role of financial experts in a company. Part of an accountant's job involves communicating financial results to fellow employees to help them make business decisions. To be a successful accountant, you must be able to clearly state monetary issues that arise and assist management in finding solutions.


Angela, who heads the small accounting department, is known for her lack of interpersonal skills, although, somewhat ironically, she rules the party planning committee. Her perfectionist nature is sometimes viewed negatively by coworkers, but she is generally well respected for her precise accounting skills. In the second season episode "The Dundie Awards," Michael describes Angela as "everybody's favorite stickler." Because accountants handle large amounts of data, opportunities arise for computational errors, even with today's improved technology. The ability to remain conscientious about your work and spend time checking and double checking results helps to ensure that the accounting statements you produce are a reliable and true snapshot of a company's financial position.


Kevin, the quiet accountant who managed to fly under the radar for most of the nine seasons of The Office, was finally let go in the show's finale. His famous mistake was inserting what he referred to as a "keleven" in his worksheets whenever he did not know an actual number. Kevin told Dwight that "a mistake plus keleven gets you home by seven." For this reason, Kevin's accounting skills rank the lowest of all the accountants featured on the show. All companies build checks and balances into their accounting systems and sooner or later, all "kelevns" will be discovered. What other skills did Kevin lack, according to Dwight? Math, time management and organization, are some factors, to name a few. Not all of these are essential for accounting success, but the ability to compute financial data in a clear, organized and timely fashion is a highly desirable attribute in any office environment. In spite of this, all was not lost for Kevin's career. Rather than finding another job in accounting, he found his true calling and purchased a bar. Photo Source: Flickr

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