There are plenty of advantages to pursuing a career in accounting. One of the perks that has become increasingly more common in today’s ever-connected world is the ability to work from home.
Accounting professionals who work with their clients on a mostly digital platform have the ability to work from virtually anywhere with an internet connection. Working from a home office has a plethora of benefits. These employees have total control over their environments, don’t have to worry about a commute time, and have the ability to address other life responsibilities, like walking the dog or being available to sign for a mid-day delivery.
However, no situation is perfect, and working from home does have its downsides. Wi-Fi connectivity problems are a home worker’s issue to solve on their own, for example. And, from chores to children, distractions at one’s own home abound. Luckily, there are some simple steps any work-from-home accountant can follow to ensure their domestic office is one of productivity, rather than procrastination.
1. Give up the commute, not the routine
Though working from your bed or sofa with your pajamas on might sound comfy, skipping your morning routine is a recipe for distraction.
Even though your commute to the office might be 30 seconds or less, still take the time to make the trek – so to speak – over to that desk before you sign in for the day, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants suggested. If you’re a morning shower person, don’t let your regular routine slip. By making an effort to get up and get ready for the day, you’re sending your mind cues that now is a time for productivity and concentration – not laziness.
Another perk of getting ready every morning? You’ll be prepared for a surprise video conference.
2. Don’t let computer problems get in your way
When an office computer gets glitchy, the company’s IT specialist is usually there to save the day. Not so at home. If your computer, internet, printer or another electronic work-from-home necessity encounters an issue, it may very well be up to you to fix it.
Though you’ll have plenty of experience dealing with computers after graduating from an online Bachelor of Science in Accounting program, you may still experience computer problems. To avoid tech issues from getting in the way of progress, be sure you know either how to fix common problems, or where to reach someone who does.
If you are working for a company that does have an IT specialist, perhaps you can reach out to that expert and ask for advice. If you choose to do this, be sure to thank that person for their time. A cup of coffee or a lunch gift card are always a good way to show your appreciation.
Find out where you can bring your computer for help should something go wrong. For example, a Best Buy will have plenty of resources, as will an Apple store for Mac users, Forbes contributor Kerry Hannon pointed out.
If you’re too far away from stores like these for such resources to be practical, it may be beneficial for you to invest in a computer class at a community college or online.
3. Dedicate a space for working
Whether it’s a home office or just a corner desk with a laptop, it’s important to have a dedicated space for your working hours. There are a few benefits of doing this.
First, it signals to others that you’re at work when you’re in this space. Family members may have the false notion that, since you’re home, you’re free to chat or help with housework, Rick Telberg of CPA Trendlines Research, explained in a LinkedIn article. Even though you’re likely happy to help out with chores once you’ve clocked out, doing these tasks during the workday means you’re not actually working.
“Family can constantly interfere with work, and since you are home they feel that you can walk away from it at a moment’s notice,” one Miami-based assistant finance director at a local university told Telberg. “Definitely have a separate office or room where you can separate your personal and business life.”
Another benefit of having your own specific working space is your ability to arrange, organize and decorate it for maximum productivity. Keep your best working tools in this space so they’re easily accessible when you need them: pens and paper, your laptop, a copier and chargers.
Finally, as Hannon pointed out and as many accounting professionals already know, having a home office opens up the possibility of a tax deduction.
4. Don’t let yourself fade into the background
The phrase “out of sight, out of mind” carries particular weight with employees who work from home. Since the higher-ups don’t see your face or hear your voice on a regular basis, it’s not uncommon for your name to slip their mind for a promotion or salary bump. Don’t let this happen to you.
“While working at home can be beneficial for both companies and workers, it can also lead to ‘invisibility’ that can limit opportunities for career advancement,” Ana Dutra, chief executive of Korn/Ferry Leadership and Talent Consulting, told Hannon. “It is important for telecommuters to remain networked as closely as possible with peers and leaders in the office.”
Make an effort to speak up during meetings, whether you’re phoning or video conferencing in or are there in person. Your education from a 100 percent online Bachelor of Science in Accounting program, such as that at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, will provide you with the know-how to initiate online discussions. If you live close enough to the office, come in for big meetings, office gatherings and other events.
Be sure to network with your peers and your company’s leadership, both online on platforms like LinkedIn, but also during the workday. If you have a subject that would be easier discussed via phone rather than an endless email chain, don’t hesitate to call. Not only will this show initiative and save everyone time and frustration, but it will also bring a human touch to the workday, AICPA pointed out.
Working from home can be a wonderful advantage. However, it’s important that professionals who do so make an effort to focus on progress and professionalism, and not give in to the common pitfalls of working from one’s own home. By taking these strategies in mind, home office employees can find success.
UAB’s Online Accounting Program
If you’re considering a career in accounting, consider the 100 percent online Bachelor of Science in Accounting degree program from the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Collat School of Business. The AACSB-accredited program is completely online, which will introduce you to the concept of working with peers online and further your experience of working remotely. To learn more, reach out to an enrollment advisor today.