Three Keys to Effectively Work from Home
by Jeanette Gribbin, Mazars USA, LLP –
September 25, 2017
Working from home is a great opportunity to achieve work/life balance, however it also takes a lot of discipline. What if a client needs you? What if a colleague needs you? How do you sit down and focus on work when there’s a sink full of dishes in the kitchen or a load of laundry that needs to be folded? Here are some mental and technological tools you can use to achieve balance and establish a routine.
1. Choose the Right Workspace
First, a dedicated workspace needs to be established — a quiet place where you can sit that is separate from your personal space. A home office is ideal, however, if that is not an option, the corner of a room can also work. The idea is to keep your personal and work spaces separate, so places like the dining room table are not suggested. Mentally, this establishes a boundary between your work and personal life so that you don’t always feel like you’re at work.
2. Establish a Routine
Take care of anything that would distract you (dirty dishes, clutter, walking the dog) before you begin your workday. Eliminating these distractions will help you to focus. Plan your week. Manage your workload by setting daily goals. Whether you write them in a planner, make post-its or track them on your favorite device, make lists that you can stick to and that hold you accountable. Communicate your workload with your team members, and schedule internal deadlines together to stay on track. Sometimes there is an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. Let your team know that you are available to answer questions. Use the tools below to help you establish your presence, even when you’re not in the office.
3. Leverage Technology
Now that you’ve got your workspace and routine in place and are ready to be productive, how do you interact with your colleagues and clients in an efficient manner? With today’s technology, there’s no reason to postpone projects or work because someone isn’t in the office. Below is a list of tools I use to stay productive and keep communication open between myself, my colleagues and my clients:
- Call Forwarding. I forward my work phone to my cell phone for several reasons: 1) It’s almost the end of the day when you suddenly realize you hadn’t checked your voicemail all day. Now you need to return client and coworker calls and potentially work on an immediate-need assignment that you hadn’t planned on. 2) I don’t have to give out my cell phone number to every client and coworker. 3) It provides your clients and coworkers one central way to contact you, rather than them having to track you down by calling several different numbers. 4) I answer the phone. My clients and coworkers rarely have to leave voicemails and wait for my call back.
- Screen Sharing. My firm uses Microsoft Lync. It’s a great tool for instant messaging someone in my office, and it provides a way for my colleagues and I to work through questions and issues together by looking at work papers and tax returns. I can easily answer questions and show a staff person how to do something as though I was sitting next to them.
- Paperless Work Environment. My firm is paperless — a major contributing factor to being able to work from home. A paperless environment enables employees to access files at any time, from anywhere. Assignments can be made regardless of where the employee performs the function. Work doesn’t need to be delayed because the files are only in one place.
- Remote Time Entry. Time entry is an essential part of our business, and tracking and entering time on a daily basis is critical. Remote time entry via the web, Citrix or an app ensures accurate and timely entry of hours.
Working from home can be a great benefit to both employees and employers. The keys are discipline and communication. Make sure your clients and colleagues know that you are available, establish your routine and stick to it.
Jeanette Gribbin is a manager with Mazars USA, LLP. She was the co-chair of the firm’s paperless initiative which resulted in a shared network between offices and significantly reduced the amount of paper the firm uses.
This article appeared in the September/October 2017 issue of New Jersey CPA magazine. Read the full issue.