Boomer’s Blueprint: 10 tips for working from home
A crisis is often an accelerator, and businesses, especially CPA firms, are learning that people can be productive working from home. Unfortunately, most accounting firms were not ready for “stay at home orders.”
In a recent survey, over 80 percent of firms said that their remote workers were performing better than anticipated. Sadly, many businesses and firms were not prepared and learned that mindsets, skill sets and toolsets are essential when it comes to a remote workforce. Just having the hardware and internet connection is not enough. The learning curve can be accelerated, and it has been for the past few weeks.
Here, I will provide 10 tips for improving the experience, as well as examples from innovative peers and businesses. Please remember that many of the firms in the Boomer Technology Circles have been utilizing video conferencing for 10 years or more. Yet most were not expecting a pandemic where the majority of the workforce was required to work remotely.
The biggest obstacle: paper! Some firms have been struggling to get paper documents into a digital format, so they are accessible from any location while remaining secure.
The biggest advantage: the cloud. Firms who are in the cloud have a significant advantage over those using on-premise solutions. Hopefully, this will prompt the core accounting vendors and lagging firms to focus on cloud-based applications rather than virtual desktops.
The next biggest advantage is employees who were already working remotely. They have the processes and systems in place, plus the required skills.
Fortunately, I have been utilizing video conferencing since 1992 and primarily working from a virtual office for over five years. The equipment back in 1992 was much larger, more expensive, and difficult to utilize. An IT person was generally needed to ensure a successful meeting. The line charges were about $150 per hour, yet it saved travel time and reduced costs. Today, most people have high-speed internet connections. Still, many have not been trained with best practices for group meetings and digital document management. Security can also be an issue with home computers.
Here are a few tips; while they are basic and focused primarily on technology, they are essential, especially if your firm is just getting started and wants to accelerate the return on investment. Remote-worker agreements, 90-day game plans and accountability reviews are also crucial in managing a remote workforce. Lastly, don’t forget about your video-conferencing attire — sweatpants are optional. Think — plan — grow!