By: Tonya Marshall
I’ll admit I’m not usually up on the latest technology. I don’t have a smart phone and my iPad gets most of its action from my five-year-old daughter. But when it comes to technology that allows me to do my job better, faster, or away from the office, I am much quicker to pick it up and run with it!
When I first began my career in public accounting, our working papers were still kept on paper (hey, it wasn’t that long ago.) Working from home was not something most people even considered, except the one workaholic who could be seen toting paper boxes full of stuff to and from her car many mornings and nights. Once we crossed the threshold of electronic engagement software and laptops, the possibility of working more efficiently from a client’s office, or from home, became real.
Since that first foray into remote computing and paperless working papers, telecommuting has taken many forms for me. We’ve gone through remote desktop connection, VPNs, files that were checked out and files that synchronize. The latest, of course, is “the cloud.” Everything is accessible as long as you have a connection.
I’ve learned a few tricks over the years to make the most of my time at home. First, schedule a time that works for you. I have small children and many aspects of my day revolve around them. I know the best time for me to work at home is after they are tucked in bed for the night.
You have to plan ahead and pick tasks that are going to work in your home environment. Reviewing less complex workpapers, doing light prep work, and reviewing financial statements are things that tend to be easier to manage from home. This is a two-fold step for me because I don’t have a dedicated work station with available space to spread out, and because my brain can’t handle more complex tasks late at night. Those are better left to well-rested brain cells.
If you’re lucky enough to have space dedicated as a home office, utilize that space as much as possible. This one isn’t from personal experience, except I’m extremely jealous of anyone who can have a more permanent setup with a docking station, extra monitors, printers, etc. If you’re in my boat, just make the best of the space you have. I have a power cord and monitor available if I need them, but mostly I just set up on a lap desk and go.
Lastly, don’t forget that technology is what makes it all work, but if it isn’t working for you, it’s probably working against you. Pay attention to what’s working for you and what isn’t. Maybe the VPN is too slow, or PDF files are difficult over the remote connection. Keep in touch with your IT department and take it upon yourself to become more informed about what’s out there to make your telecommuting experience more efficient. You don’t always get what you want, but you’ll be much more likely to get it if you ask. In my experience, employers like happy, efficient employees and are willing to make the investment because the return is there. They are accountants, after all.
Tonya focuses on providing not‐for‐profit, commercial, and governmental clients with consulting, finance and auditing services. With 9 years of public accounting experience, including all phases of audit and tax work, her extensive background includes significant work with counties, municipalities, construction contractors and not‐for‐profit organizations. As a manager, Tonya is responsible to ensure her audits are completed timely and is deeply involved in each engagement.