An experience-share from a long term WFH’er.
I have been selling accounting practices and doing so by working from home (WFH) for over 10 years. I think my personality is well-suited for working from home. I don’t need or miss the chats at the coffee pot or the lunch table. I don’t need the background noise or energy that comes from a busy office.
The rest of our team started working from home since the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of them are back at the office now, but I’m happy to continue working remotely.
I can provide some tips, suggestions and frustrations that I have experienced over the years that might help accountants who are making the switch.
There is some conventional wisdom about working from home that I have adopted into my routines and several that I have not.
I tend to set good boundaries between “work” and “home”.
I am lucky to have dedicated office space. I leave my laptop in the office and the phone only rings in the office. This means that I am able to work at “work” and then leave it for the day. I am not tempted by laundry and dishes and dusting. I would much rather help my clients than complete those tasks. I have not had the problem of trying to do that at the same time as “work.”
The conventional wisdom tells you that you should get dressed for work every day. This is not a habit I have adopted. I very rarely get dressed in business attire for work and this works for me. One routine that makes for good days is to exercise first thing. My schedule is not regimented so I can exercise when the class time or weather permits. Poe Group Advisors is also incredibly supportive of working from home. Our technology is very good and this means that the client experience is seamless. We also work very hard on work/life balance and step in for each other when needed.
We are a results-oriented business, not tied to tasks.
I can’t see how this would work otherwise. I am fairly “self-managed” and have a lot of autonomy. This means that when I achieve a “result” I am finished.
This also means that I don’t often have hard deadlines, so I have to be creative to give myself some accountability. I spend time in the morning to plan my day. This gives me clarity on priorities and things that need to be accomplished. One part of my day that I find difficult to manage is getting back to work after lunch. The sofa or the lake view from my deck is tempting. I have developed strategies that sometimes help. I will reward myself with something for going back to work like an episode of my guilty pleasure, Young and the Restless. I think the key here is to recognize where you need help and accountability.
The Daily Huddle is key.
As mentioned, COVID-19 has meant that the team started working remotely as well. We have adopted and created some strategies and processes that have helped us navigate. One of the big concerns is our well-being and not getting too lonely. We also did not want to lose all of the good things that come out of having such a collaborative team. As a result, we have implemented a daily Zoom huddle.
At 10 a.m. every day, we gather on Zoom. We use this time to check in on each other. For years we have all had three weekly tasks that we want to accomplish. These are a mixture of personal and professional goals. We report to the group what they are and then we have to say if we accomplished them on the next Zoom. With the addition of our daily huddles we are adding daily tasks to tell the group about, and to let them hold us accountable. This has been so helpful as we have added things like online learning with our children, feeding hungry teenagers ALL DAY and the uncertainty of the virus. We use this time to ask quick questions we would have asked at the coffee pot, celebrate our wins and strategize about things we need help with. I would imagine that this is something we will continue in some version for some time. It has been so valuable to our mental health and productivity.
About Stephanie Smith: Stephanie is the leading Accounting Practice Intermediary with Poe Group Advisors. With over 12 years of proven sales and marketing experience in the banking sector, Stephanie brings a strong financial background to her position. This prior experience lending to and working with small business owners assists her as a skilled negotiator helping maximize value for both buyers and sellers.
Stephanie holds a bachelors degree from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, OK. When not assisting a client, Stephanie enjoys spending time with her family, tennis, knitting and travel.