Work from home best practices for accountants

Work from home best practices for accountants

Covid-19 pandemic, Coronavirus vaccine, online, remote working, virtual meeting platforms, and work from home – these are some of the primary keywords that ruled the year 2020. Businesses across the world adopted remote work arrangements to ensure the safety of its employees. People accepted the working from the home arrangement and adopted best practices to work efficiently and effectively while maintaining work-life balance.  

Lots of companies and their employees have no experience of work from home. However, the pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns and restrictions ensured that employees adopt the practice of working remotely and get used to it until the situation is better. Anyone new to working from home may be a bit uncomfortable in the initial stages. However, if the best practices are followed sincerely, there are higher chances of benefitting from such an arrangement. 

Many organizations across the world were initially skeptical about the success of working remotely. However, they are trying to make their employees’ work from home as productive and comfortable as possible by providing the best available resources. Organizations provided employees with laptops, IT security solutions, data packages, virtual meeting platforms, and other support necessary to guarantee effective and efficient work from home.  

Accountants also joined the herd of people working from home. Although accounting is considered a traditional career field, accountants and auditing firms have to adjust to the new normal of remote work. While many businesses found themselves more free time, accountants like health workers and doctors got busier to address their clients’ concerns regarding recovery from the crisis. Therefore, accountants were inundated with two primary challenges – working from home, along with keeping the companies’ data safe.  

Below we provide you a guide on the best practices that the remote accountants can adapt to work from home efficiently and productively: 

A dedicated workstation for work from home arrangement will ensure productivity 

The first requirement of a work from home arrangement is a workstation where you can focus on your work and avoid any distractions. The onus lies on the accountant himself/herself to define such a place at your home.  

dedicated workstation

It must have the required sunlight and air so that you remain fresh and focused the entire day. It might be your living room, study room, a separate desk in your bedroom, or any other place. Specifically, you should be away from distractions, and it should be separate from the place where others in the house are sitting so that you can separate your work and home. Furthermore, when you are looking for 5-10 minutes of breathing space or a break, you can go to that place so that you feel you are away from work.  

Use the latest technologies while working remotely 

Organizations worldwide are ensuring the best technologies for their employees so that no time is wasted due to technological glitches. Remote accountants must let their companies know about the technology requirements at home, including cloud-based accounting software, computers or laptops, and other devices. Advanced and useful third-party add-ons must be added to your technology requirements to ensure maximum productivity with no delays.  

Reliable internet access and the right hardware are also key requirements

Work from home best practices for accountants

to ensure a productive workday at home. You should also be aware of the key point of IT contact in the company in the case of some issues with the device, internet, or other technology. The company must adopt the latest technologies to automate any tasks so that employees save their time and energy, and hence, efficiency is maintained.  

Work from home with increased data security 

The biggest risk of remote work is compromised by data security. Therefore, accountants need to keep the data safe as they handle their clients’ sensitive financial data. Specifically, a secure internet connection and updated, advanced antivirus software are sufficient to ensure data security. One can also opt for multi-factor authentication (MFA), specifically for email accounts, so that the security of data is not compromised. Before opting for any firewall, antivirus software, or MFA, it is a good practice for remote working accountants to contact an expert IT advisor to be aware of the best data security options in the industry.  

Schedule your tasks diligently to ensure efficient work from home 

Work from home best practices for accountants

We know the way accountants are busy during the tax season. Generally, they work long shifts to keep the accounts of clients updated always. To keep meeting the deadlines while working from home, remote accountants must essentially prepare a task schedule. It helps to give attainable deadlines to each of your tasks. Accountants must define the day of work from home in advance along with the workflows so that it becomes easier to put a tick mark when one task is completed and then move ahead.  

Furthermore, a scheduler ensures that a routine is being followed despite being away from the manager, who continuously supervises your work. It also ensures that you have time dedicated to your colleagues for project update discussion, clients for any queries or updates, and managers. If you are not going to follow the general office working hours, please mention it to your colleagues and managers so that any communication amongst your team members is not delayed. It is advised to follow the same schedule as the office hours with intermittent breaks to improve concentration at work and productivity.

Have a project update meeting frequently to update work from home status 

Update meetings are a common trend in offices. Continue this habit when working from home first thing in the morning, as it gives a feeling of a normal workday. It is critical because everyone working on the same project or for the same client must be aware of what the other team member is up to. It also allows accountants to be responsible and accountable for the work that they are managing from home.  

Furthermore, work time reporting is ensured, as everyone must join the meeting as the first task. Discussions can be on the update on the project, how much is

Work from home best practices for accountants

done, how much is pending, what each one is responsible for, any challenges that may delay the project, any new trick that may quicken a process, or any new development in the company that everyone should be aware of. Such meetings ensure that employees remain connected and are aware of the opportunities and challenges in the project.  

Manage a shared worksheet or dashboard for project status updates 

Although a status update meeting is held every day, it is good to make and manage a shared worksheet or dashboard. All the accountants working for the same client or the same project must update this worksheet or dashboard at the end of each day. In this way, remote accountants will not be required to send status emails daily while the manager will be saved from tons of such emails on a daily basis. Furthermore, seeing what and how much other accountants are doing, the team members will remain focussed and productive to generate results.  

Besides, such a shared sheet or dashboard ensures the manager that the work is going on as planned, and the team is productive enough to complete the project within the deadlines.  

Collaboration with colleagues while continuing with work from home is the key 

Collaboration is essential for the successful completion of any task or project. This is true whether you work from home or office. Remote accountants must remain connected with their colleagues and peers through multiple channels such as phone, emails, messengers, and meeting platforms. This ensures managed collaboration and timely submission of the tasks. Furthermore, when another accountant can start work only after completing your side of work, it becomes essential to keep them updated on your timelines. Therefore, discussion of your schedules, shift timings, and deadlines amongst the accountants can ensure better productivity of all the team members. 

Keep in constant touch with your clients  

The accountants need to keep the clients updated about the status of the work. Such frequent communication between clients and remote accountants is essential since accountants can discuss any new developments in the client’s accounts and ask for clarifications or more documents. Furthermore, clients can discuss their financial decisions, which require expert advice, considering the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic.  

In addition, 

Following are some other Dos and Don’ts: 

  • It is a good practice to stay away from distractions of any kind – be it social media notifications, news alerts, or online series and movies so that you finish your work on time on weekdays and have your weekends for relaxation and rejuvenation.  
  • Remote accountants must have coffee/tea breaks with colleagues virtually once or twice in a day so that the feel of working with co-workers remains and discussion on non-work topics gives you the necessary respite from too much stress.  
  • Employees working from home have the additional time that they save from commuting for work, which can be used to pursue a degree, do some short-term certifications, attend online webinars, or reading online journals to brush up on your skills and learn more for a better appraisal of your work. 
  • Work from home is a good opportunity for employees to engage in healthy eating and exercising to keep the brain, stomach, and body in the right frame, guarantees positive mood, enthusiasm, and improved stamina. 
  • While working from home, accountants must also engage in some fun activities with team members once a week, such as playing some games, giving a virtual tour of your home, or having some fun discussions to keep the spirits high.  
  • Accountants must ensure that the right work-life balance is maintained while working from home so that there is time for both the professional and personal duties, and one does not come in the way of another.

The pandemic has effectively given rise to a new normal of work from home; however, accountants’ work remains the same since clients still need you for bookkeeping, accounting, and other financial advisory services. Moreover, they need your help and support more in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.  

Therefore, remote accountants must try to imbibe these best practices to keep working their best and provide the same or more quality services to their clients. Work from home is the new reality for everyone across the world. Accountants must accept this reality and adopt the best communication, logistics, and efficiency solutions to work in the best way possible like they did from the offices. The transition from ‘work from office’ to ‘work from home,’ though difficult, is possible with these tips and tricks.  

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