Working from home can mean goodbye to packed trains and afternoon gridlock, and many job seekers value this perk. In fact, 77 per cent of the professionals who responded to a recent Robert Half survey said they’re more willing to accept a job offer if it came with the possibility of working remotely at least part of the time.
Telecommuting is a major aspect of the modern workplace, yet it’s not without its challenges. Not every accountant functions well outside of a traditional office environment. And if your boss senses that you’re one of them who doesn’t, you might lose this privilege. Here are six ways to make the most of this flexible work arrangement:
1. Get each day off to the right start. Telecommuting means you can work in your pyjamas, but that doesn’t mean you should. Many remote employees find they’re more productive if they approach each day as if they were going to the office. So get dressed, work at a desk (instead of in bed) and start the morning at the same time your other colleagues do — or before. This is a good way of focusing and staying in a professional mode throughout the day.
2. When you’re at work, be at work. Working from home has advantages, such as being able to sign for packages. But if you’re not disciplined, you may find yourself doing laundry and running to the store when you’re supposed to be reconciling accounts. Abuse of working hours is the biggest pitfall of telecommuting, according to the survey, which may be why some employers are reluctant to offer this perk. Unless you get permission from your boss to work nonstandard hours, such as when your clients are in a different time zone, make it a practice to work from 9 to 5 each day.
3. Stay in touch. Isolation is a major issue for telecommuters. In an office, you can simply pop over to a co-worker’s desk and ask questions or bounce ideas off them whenever you like. Collaboration is more challenging when you’re off-site, which means you’ll have to work harder to connect. One way is to make the most of technology, such as conference calls, video chats, IM and other tools like Slack or Google Hangouts.
4. Have clear objectives. Because supervisors can’t check in on teleworkers as easily, they rely on results. That’s why before you start working part-time or full-time from home, you should talk with your boss about their expectations and how they’ll measure your performance. Are there a certain number of tasks or deliverables that need to be completed? What does a productive day look like to your boss? Know what your target is, and make sure you hit it daily.
5. Optimise your tech setup. In an office environment, you can count on the IT department to take care of your internet connection, computer, phone and other equipment. Working remotely, however, you may be in charge of buying, troubleshooting and fixing the technology that makes telecommuting possible. Here are some tips:
Have a back-up plan in case you lose your home internet connection. Make sure you know how to tether your laptop to your mobile phone for a personal hotspot. Having a list of nearby public places that offer Wi-Fi, like coffee shops or libraries, can come into handy.
Purchase a good headset microphone for phone and video conference calls that won’t annoy other attendees. Also make sure you have access to a quiet room — preferably with an uncluttered background.
Update your computer with the latest security fixes and antivirus software.
Install a VPN (virtual private network) on your home router, laptop and smartphone to protect sensitive data. Your employer may cover the cost of a reliable VPN subscription. If you travel to countries whose government restricts internet access, a VPN is the only way to access the cloud-based tools you use regularly.
6. Get in face time. Business networking should always be a priority for finance professionals. It’s even more important for remote workers, especially networking within your own company. If you’re a full-time telecommuter, you probably don’t get much in-person time with your boss. To offset this pitfall, attend work parties, don’t skip optional social gatherings, and go to seminars and conferences. Let colleagues and managers know you’re a fully invested member of the team.
Telecommuting is a great perk that can help you juggle your professional and personal responsibilities. These six tips can help you make sure it doesn’t negatively impact your career.
This article is provided courtesy of Robert Half, parent company of Accountemps, Robert Half Finance & Accounting and Robert Half Management Resources. Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised staffing firm placing accounting and finance professionals on a temporary, full-time and project basis. For career and management advice, follow our blog at roberthalf.co.uk/blog.