Even before the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, the work-from-home model had gained traction in the corporate world. Gallup recently surveyed 15,000 working adults in the US and the study revealed that 43% of them spent at least some time working remotely during their work hours. The crisis only exacerbated the trend.
Keeping in mind that around 50% of millennials are freelancers, the drift is predicted to be even faster in the upcoming years. This shifting work model will impact every field, including outsourced financing and accounting. The emergence of this new working landscape has raised data security concerns and led to collaboration issues for some companies, while for others, it has improved the productivity of workforces and employee satisfaction.
At Fully Accountable, we understand the unique challenges and opportunities afforded by this shift to working from home. In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about work from home. Let’s begin with discussing what work from home is.
What is Work from Home?
Also known as a flexible workplace, remote working, or teleworking, work from home (WFH) is the process of completing job responsibilities from a remote setting or one’s home as opposed to traveling to and working from an office.
In the professional realm, communication is truly what makes the world go round. Thanks to technologies, such as cloud-based apps, like Slack, Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Facetime, etc., working professionals need not be physically present in the office to complete tasks, work together, and be recognized as productive team members. These tools have made it possible for employees to be just as efficient, if not more while working from home.
However, the work-from-home model hasn’t solely been made possible by the internet or new innovation. The phenomenon dates back to around 50 years. Let’s dig deeper into the history of work from home.
Work from Home History
According to Flexjobs, the work-from-home model was first introduced in the 1970s, when thirty federal government workers were told to work remotely to curb the costs. Considering the high costs associated with fuel and long gas lines, satellite offices were built in various areas to eliminate the need to commute to headquarters.
Similarly, JCPenney hired some home-based employees for its call center in the 1980s. From there, the idea spread to other industries and businesses.
Now that you know what work from home is and how the concept came into being, it’s time to determine how you can succeed while working from home. Keep reading to learn how you can set up a perfect work from home space.
How to Set Up a Productive Work from Home Environment
While having a dedicated home office certainly helps, it’s not necessary to have one. However, you’ll still need to organize a space where you only carry out work. It should be an environment that helps you efficiently perform your work. Follow these tips to set up such a space:
Identify Your Needs
The first step is to identify what you need to perform your work. Work needs vary from one employee to another. Depending on the nature and scope of your work, you may need a large space that accommodates your computer, files, and other physical tools, or only a small space to fit your laptop. Therefore, it’s important to develop a list of items you need. Once you’ve determined your needs, you can start planning for a space to meet those needs.
Select Your Space
While you can always choose to work from your bed or couch, we definitely don’t recommend it. Nor do we advise you to keep switching your working spots. Like we mentioned before, choose a space that keeps you productive while working. Ideally, you should use the area for office work only, and it should help you maintain a healthy work-life balance, too.
Organize Your In-Home Workstation
The next step is to organize your workspace in a way that makes sense for your workflow. Everything you need during the course of a workday should be within arm’s reach, such as your pens, tech tools, art supplies, files, notepad, and so on. This way, your in-home workstation will both be highly productive as well as feel more serene.
Once you’ve set up your work from home environment, your next big concern should be how you can stay productive with your new work setting.
How to Stay Productive While Working from Home
Although working from home offers a number of benefits, it has its own distractions. With chores, pets, family, children, and other errands, you can easily lose focus. If you don’t do anything about it, your efficiency and productivity may be affected. To avoid this, follow these work from home tips:
You can always mark your attendance in your night suit, but to ensure productivity and convince yourself you need to work, you need to change your clothes. Do your best to stick to your regular work routine, and that includes dressing professionally. With work from home, the only thing you’re taking out of the picture is the commutation, which should be replaced by some physical activity, such as some stretching or walking. Then, dress and take your breakfast as you normally do. Sticking to your professional attire will make you feel motivated.
Plan a Work-from-Home Schedule
To maintain a healthy work-life balance, you must separate your working hours and personal time. Once you have a schedule, prioritize your responsibilities each day according to the complexity, impact, and time investment.
Without a defined boundary between work and personal life, and without regular breaks, your work can lead to burn-out. Make sure all your colleagues and your manager are aware of your working schedule. At the end of the day, shut off your laptop or computer and avoid opening any online chat or email once you’ve signed off. Immediately move on to your evening plans, such as an outing with friends or a workout class.
Take Regular Breaks
Regardless of the work setting, when you don’t give your body and brain some time to rest, both productivity and health can suffer. Like other muscles, your brain needs rest too.
Therefore, no matter how busy you are, take the time to rest your brain, go outside, and do some stretching at pre-scheduled intervals. During this break, you can meditate, take a walk, read a chapter of a book, do a short yoga session, or listen to a podcast.
Put Your Smartphone Away
That smartphone on your workstation can prove to be the biggest distraction from work. From using social media apps to taking calls from family and friends, it has everything to keep you hooked all day. Ideally, you should have a separate phone for work that you only use for important calls. Put the other smartphone away and use it during breaks or after work.
Dedicate Some Time for House Chores
Doing chores during office hours can affect your productivity. To eliminate any distractions when you’re working, it’s best to dedicate up to an hour to house chores. Make sure to do everything you need to in this break so you can focus on your job afterward.
Make Sure You Have a Fast Internet
If you have children, their Xbox and FaceTiming habits may hamper your internet connection or slow it down. Slow internet speed, including download speed, can be extremely frustrating, which further hurts work efficiency. To avoid facing internet-related issues, try to set up your in-home workstation as close to the Wi-Fi router as possible.
Alternatively, you can switch to Ethernet. For this, you will require an Ethernet cable that connects your computer to the router. It will ensure a consistent connection, regardless of how far you are from the Wi-Fi router.
When working from home, it’s critical to remain accountable and maintain efficient communication with your team. Even if you’re located in a different time zone, be responsive to your colleagues, regardless of when they sent you a message or email. Communication is the key to any corporate relationship.
When communicating from a distance, the chances of miscommunication and misunderstandings tend to be higher. Even with the most sophisticated communication and collaboration tools, you can never achieve the clarity and transparency achieved through face-to-face communication.
One great strategy to avoid miscommunication is to talk on call. If you notice a negative tone creeping in or face the slightest of confusion, use it as a cue to place a phone or video call for clarification. Oftentimes, we end up perceiving neutral written messages or emails as negative, so it’s better to confirm things on call before making assumptions.
After going through the tips explained above, you should be in a much better position to stay productive when working from home. Now, let’s discuss some tools that facilitate remote work.
Work from Home Tools and Apps
Work from home is possible due to different technological tools and apps that work to enhance efficiency. Based on our research, here are the best apps you can use:
Meeting Owl is one of the best video conferencing tools out there. It features a 360-degree camera that will immediately focus on the person who is speaking during a video conferencing session. Remote attendants not only get a close-up view of the speakers, but they also get a panoramic view of all the other attendants present at the meeting.
When it comes to real-time team communication, nothing beats Slack. This is a corporate communication platform that comes with various IRC-style features such as chat rooms, direct messaging, and private groups. By sparing email inboxes and reducing the number of CCs and BCCs that need to be managed, Slack fosters more productive communication. You can make teams based on projects, departments, etc. You can send messages to full teams, small groups, or even specific groups.
Besides, you may also integrate Slack with DropBox, Google Docs, etc., allowing for efficient team collaboration. Hence, the app can be tailored to meet different team needs.
When sharing professional documents and emails, your grammar speaks volumes about your business. When sending proposals to potential clients, your grammar can create a positive or negative impression on them. This is where Grammarly comes in handy. It’s a cloud-based app backed by AI technology that helps you rectify any spelling and grammar issues. With this app, you should be much more confident when sending out business proposals or emails.
If you’re a project management professional, Trello is an ideal app for you. It offers incredible task and organizational task management power. The app revolves around bulletin boards, each of which represents a project, in which teams can create lists that are then populated using cards. These cards include comments and/or attachments and are labeled, given a deadline, and assigned to team members. If there’s any productive project management app in the world, it has to be Trello.
BENEFITS OF WORKING WITH AN OUTSOURCED ACCOUNT COMPANY
For many businesses, the shift to the work from home model has also revealed the benefits of handling their accounting needs through an outsourced accounting company. Here’s a look at some of the top benefits of working with an outsourced accounting firm:
While it might seem like hiring an outsourced accounting firm will drive up your expenses, this move can actually reduce your long-term, overall costs. With outsourcing, you can tailor your accounting setup, which means you’ll only receive the services you need. You’ll also save on personnel costs because you won’t need dedicated, in-house accounting employees.
Meeting full compliance standards.
Compliance standards and regulations are constantly changing and updating in the accounting industry. By outsourcing your accounting services, you don’t have to worry about keeping track of compliance standards. The professionals at these firms will stay on top of compliance issues for you.
Experience and expertise.
It’s hard to match the experience offered by a full team of professional accountants. Each team member is dedicated to accounting services and knowledgeable in all aspects of the industry. You’ll also benefit from the unique expertise and insight offered by these professionals, which could improve the efficiency of your company overall.
Save on time and resources.
By outsourcing your accounting needs, you can shift the focus of your own in-house team to other projects and tasks. This shift will save you on time and resources and allow your employees to focus on their own areas of expertise.
Peace of mind.
At the end of the day, we could all use a little more peace of mind—this is exactly what an outsourced accounting firm can give you. By working with a team of accounting professionals, you can rest easy knowing your accounting needs will be met by highly qualified professionals in the field.
By now you should have developed an in-depth idea about what work from home is and how you can improve your productivity in any work environment. This guide should help you plan your modern at-home workplace and not just survive—but thrive.
Remember one thing: if you’re setting up a home office for your own business, you’ll need to keep your personal and business purchases separate to comply with the tax law. If you want to take the full cost of your business equipment as a write-off, you’ll need to keep them separate from your personal equipment. If this sounds confusing to you, get in touch with Fully Accountable, a full-service outsourced accounting firm, for any of your accounting and taxation needs. You can also schedule a 30-minute consultation or request a free quote today!