Welcome to the future! You can work from home now, and all of accounting is moving to remote work. Every so often the world turns upside down, and only the quick and nimble survive. Can your business keep up?
What is remote work?
Remote work as a concept is relatively simple to explain. You work remotely from the office your business rents or owns. Or maybe your business doesn’t have a centralized office, and the business works in a decentralized manner.
To better explain, remote work is best contrasted with traditional work environments.
Traditional Work Environments
We’ve all had the 9-5. You may not call it a traditional working environment, but you’ve likely experienced it at some point in your life because, up until recently, most jobs could not be done remotely.
In traditional work environments, you have a designated desk in an office. You must show up at a certain time to that desk to begin work, and you can’t leave work until enough hours of work have passed. Because you have to show up at a certain time, you need to commute to the office. For most of us, that could take 20 minutes to an hour. Not only that but having a specific desk to work from means you couldn’t be productive unless you were at your desk. Your manager or boss would equate productivity with your butt being in the seat because you were definitely not working when your butt was not in the seat.
This type of thinking has led to countless Dilbert cartoons of characters chained to desks wasting away their little illustrated lives.
Remote Work Environments
When you work from home, you don’t have to go to an office to do your job. Your manager can’t see if your butt is in a seat, so for remote work to work well, there has to be trust between Management and Employees.
This also makes remote work a more Result Only Work Environment (ROWE). You measure output, not presence. It doesn’t necessarily matter when you complete your work as long as your work gets done.
There is no commute time to add to your daily schedule; you can wake up and get right to work. You can work in your PJs if you want to. You can be productive from anywhere because your job does not demand you to be physically present in the office to be productive.
Why is remote work a “thing”?
Telecommuting has been steadily increasing over the last twenty years. In fact, it’s undoubtedly the future of knowledge work. A recent Google search trend graph illustrates this interest in remote work well:
More firms have been learning how to work remotely even before the COVID-19 pandemic forced companies worldwide to adopt a remote work policy. Countless firms who use Jetpack Workflow, have been managing remote employees for a few years now.
For at least 10 years, you’ve been able to work remotely; you just didn’t know it, or your company didn’t see the value in allowing you to do it.
What are some work from home best practices?
If you haven’t had a positive experience with telecommuting in your career, you might think that enabling remote work is an incredibly difficult and expensive process that will require a herculean effort to achieve.
Luckily, with the right tools, this is not the case for most firms.
The hardest part is adjusting your mindset from a traditional working environment to a remote working environment. The tools are there, but you have to be willing to let them work.
Mistakes to Avoid When Starting to Work Remotely
1. Being Haphazard In Your Processes and Unorganized In Your Documentation
Good or bad, you will inevitably live and die by the documentation you create. Make sure it’s well-organized information, and stay aligned with your mission and vision through consistency of message and behaviors. This is doubly important if you’re a leader of a team or firm.
2. Buying Expensive Headphones, Microphones, and Cameras
Setting yourself up for success when working from home doesn’t always mean buying the best gear. The best gear neither reduces any chance of poor performance nor makes you more productive.
Do you have a pair of those white headphones that come with every Apple product on the market? Those will do fine, we promise. You’re going to be working from home, not from the lion cage at the zoo during feeding time (but if you want to check in on live streams of wild animals, enjoy!).
If you’re really concerned about background noise, check out Krisp, which can cancel out some of that background noise.
As for video quality, your webcam on your laptop is perfectly adequate. You also have permission not to turn on the video.
BONUS: Invite your dog or cat to the meeting. It’s good to have a helping hand or paw. 🐾
3. Micromanaging Your Employees
This might be your natural tendency if you’re a manager at a firm that has a traditional working environment and is switching to remote work. You’re used to seeing people in their seats. You’re used to a team member walking up to your desk, and not being able to ignore them politely.
Sneaky Micromanaging Tendencies to Avoid:
- Requiring all employees to be in an all-day virtual meeting so you can see them work. (No one needs to be Big Brother.)
- Requiring employees to document specifically what they do every hour of the day and send that to you.
- Requiring employees’ statuses to never go idle in the chat tool.
- Require instant answers to your questions all the time. When everything is urgent, nothing is.
- Requiring people to respond during off-hours.
- Assuming the worst of other people because when you communicate via text, you lose nonverbal contexts like tone and body language.
Work From Home Guidelines
In a post-COVID-19 world, you will have to face the question, “Do we go back to a traditional work environment?” We suspect your answer will largely depend on how well you handle working remotely.
Luckily, we have a summary of what you need to do for the ultimate work from home best practices.
1. Understand remote work.
Figure out exactly what you can do remotely and what you cannot. Unless you’re working on highly classified materials that need to be securely contained in a locked-down facility and never leave, then you can do your work remotely. You can still meet with clients, you can still manage your team… You can do all the normal accounting work you’ve been doing, just from the comfort of your own home.
2. Work on your mindset.
Your mindset is key. There’s no need to be cynical or to doom remote work before you begin it. Instead, come into working remotely with a clean slate and an open mind. Remote work in accounting existed before the pandemic, and it’s unlikely to disappear afterward. This is the new normal, so we can fight it or embrace it.
3. Avoid the pitfalls of working remotely.
The worst pitfall to avoid is being a bad manager. The skills you’ve built up managing people in a traditional work environment aren’t enough for effectively managing folks remotely. Instead, trust your employees. Work with them, and see and assume the best in them.
On the flip side, you also still have to have the hard conversations when they need to be had – that’s why you’re paid more 😉.
4. Build a tech stack that works for your firm.
You don’t want to be in 15 different tools. Too many tools make working complicated and confusing for the whole team. We recommend choosing only the remote work tools that will allow for the most productivity and efficiency in your firm.
We love Google, but you might not be able to live without Excel, so maybe that’s Microsoft365 for your team. That’s ok! They’re both great.
But once you do your research and make a choice, stick with that choice. No one likes having to track down things in 100 different places, and it kills productivity.
SECRET: There are a lot of bright and shiny tools out there, and you don’t have to buy a single one!
You’ve Got This
Moving your firm to the cloud and radically trusting your employees is going to be a rewarding experience for you and your firm. We’re excited to help you along the way. Join us here at Jetpack Workflow to create a single source of truth for your client work, gain better transparency over your workflow, and never let something fall through the cracks again.
Share with us your best tips for how to work from home effectively!