During the COVID pandemic, millions of employees were displaced or transitioned to work remotely for months, and many are staying that way into the future. If you are a CPA who began working remotely due to the pandemic or if you are simply interested in transitioning to working from home, there are a few tips to keep in mind to help you stay focused and professional.
Creating a Professional Home Office
Creating a professional home office or workspace is the first step towards working remotely full-time. Even if you do not have an entire room dedicated to your office, there are many ways to work in smaller spaces while still optimizing your time and maximizing your productivity.
The Importance of Separating Your Office
Having a designated and separate professional home office to work from is key for anyone working remotely. Without a designated workspace, you are likely to find yourself frazzled and much more stressed out, especially if you require time alone to think and concentrate.
Separating your workspace from where you typically eat, sleep, and spend time with loved ones is also important for your mindset. Working in the same area in which you play and relax can cause you to feel stressed out and overwhelmed much quicker during your workdays.
Ergonomic Furniture and Proper Layout
Ensure that when you are working from home you are doing so with a comfortable office chair and ergonomic furniture that is optimal for your body and needs. If you intend to work sitting down for most of the day, invest in a high-quality professional chair with lumbar support and plenty of adjustable features.
Seek out ergonomically designed furniture to minimize back pain and pressure throughout your body when working from home, especially when working an office job or one that requires you to be at a computer for most of your day. Consider investing in a standing or adjustable desk that is optimized for both sitting and standing.
Remain Organized and Clutter-Free
Remaining organized and clutter-free is imperative for anyone working from home or remotely, even if you are only doing so part-time. Ensure that your office desk remains clean and clear from clutter, food wrappers, and unnecessary trash at all times. Keep walkways and surroundings in your office clear from clutter to provide you with optimal thinking and focusing space when you are working.
Use organization tools, equipment, and furniture to keep your office supplies, belongings, and even important work documents in order. Use file cabinets, calendars, and planners to keep track of appointments, important dates, and other tasks that require attention.
Create the Right Atmosphere
Create an inviting yet sleek atmosphere in your office workspace. The right atmosphere can help you to remain motivated and excited to get to work. Choose lighting that works for you and that is not distracting.
Avoid lighting that is too bright or too dark. Opt for a desk lamp, a standing lamp, or even an overhead light that is not too bright or blinding. Traditional offices that utilize fluorescent lights often receive complaints from employees due to the headaches triggered by the overwhelming brightness day in and day out.
Tips for Meetings
Although working at home provides an entirely new atmosphere and environment that is opposite of traditional workplaces, you will likely still need to host or attend meetings with clients and other associates you work with regularly. When hosting meetings, there are a few at-home tips that can help you to transition to working from home seamlessly and without too many changes to your daily routine.
Create a Meeting Space
As a CPA, you likely have many meetings throughout the day. Whenever you are planning to host or attend a meeting, it is highly advisable to do so by designating a meeting space with a proper background or backdrop in place. Whether you have a green screen of your own or opt for a natural screen or backdrop, having a place to host and attend virtual meetings is a way to maintain a steady workflow even when you are working from home or outside of the office.
Some video chatting programs and streaming services also provide automatic backgrounds and backdrops. Spend time researching and comparing video streaming options to find a solution that works for you and for your clients or associates. When using a program or chatting solution that provides backgrounds, select a neutral background or backdrop to minimize distractions while still appearing as if you are in a professional setting.
Video and Volume Check
Before going live with any video meeting, be sure to conduct a volume and video check using the software program or streaming service of your choice. Test the volume of your microphone and verify that your video camera is on and working to avoid wasting time once you are ready to begin the meeting with a business associate, partner, or even your own client.
Dress the Part
Even though you likely feel much more comfortable and at ease when working from home, it is still important to appear professional, legitimate, and trustworthy, especially as a CPA or when working in finance. Dressing the part of a CPA can help to gain the trust of new prospective clients while also helping other professionals and associates to take you more seriously.
When hosting or attending virtual meetings, it is highly advisable to look directly at the camera as opposed to looking at your screen the entire time. While you may need to glance at your computer screen or monitor occasionally for information or talking points, looking directly into the camera will help you to make better connections with those on the receiving end of your video.
Avoid mumbling or talking too low. Instead, speak as if you are talking to a small room of individuals who are eager to hear what you have to say. Knowing how to communicate virtually is just as important as when you are working with an individual in person.
Working successfully and productively as a CPA requires more than simply understanding accounting and how to properly manage finances. When you are working from home as a CPA, you should utilize strategies and tools that can help you remain productive. With the right productivity strategies, you’ll discover how you can optimize your time while still enjoying the comforts of your own home.
Create an At-Home Routine
Although you are now working at home as a CPA, it is still wise to maintain a set work schedule. Wake up early so that you have plenty of time to get ready. This can help you stay on track as you adjust to your remote environment. Starting off your day earlier can prevent slacking or putting off work later in the day, which often results in feeling overwhelmed or bogged down due to working from home.
When you have a set schedule and you stick to it without letting your work hours bleed into your off-time, you are much more likely to feel well-adjusted to the remote work lifestyle.
Keep Track of Time and Tasks
Similarly to working in an office, it is equally as important to keep track of the time you work even when you are doing so from home. Use various tools, timers, and even traditional clocks to keep track of your work hours and the tasks you need to complete each day.
Whether you prefer using handheld or digital planners and calendars, it is still essential to keep track of your tasks, projects, and even upcoming meetings when working remotely. At the end of the work day, review the next day’s tasks and meetings so that you come in prepared. This is especially important during the busy tax season; planning ahead can help cut back on having to work overtime.
If you are having trouble with keeping track of time and tasks, consider browser plugins or utilize methods such as the Pomodoro method to help track your time without getting bored or distracted online. Without oversight or supervisors, you will need to create a routine to ensure you remain working during your designated work hours.
Take Breaks to Prevent and Avoid Burnout
Even though you may love working at home and feel excited each time you step into your home office, you will still require downtime and time away from your work to protect your mental health and emotional wellbeing. Make sure to take breaks and step away from your workspace throughout the day.
Taking these breaks regularly when working not only gives you a mental break and peace of mind, but it also allows for physical exercise. During your breaks, get up and walk around your home. Take a walk around your block if possible, or run an errand that provides you with time in the sunshine or outdoors. Complete stretch routines and basic weight lifting exercise routines at home to avoid missing out on reaching or maintaining your fitness goals.
It is also necessary to discover and cultivate hobbies outside of work, even if they are also indoor hobbies or hobbies on your computer. Ensuring that you have hobbies and activities that bring you joy aside from work is a way to keep from feeling burnt out or unmotivated. When you feel fulfilled in all of the most important areas of your life, you are less likely to break from your routine and more likely to persevere and remain successful.
Know When to Turn Off
Working remotely and from home can quickly blur the lines between working and playing or relaxing. Knowing when to turn off and leave work for another day is one of the most important aspects of working from home while still maintaining a proper work/life balance.
It is also highly recommended to utilize a “do not disturb” feature on your phone as well as on your computer whenever possible while you are working. There are even browser plugins that can prevent access to specific websites such as social media platforms or other entertainment websites that are most likely to cause distractions for you while you are working. Use plugins to monitor your web activity and to also keep better track of just how well you are able to manage your time with and without website-blocking plugins in place.
Exercise Each Day
Whenever possible, exercise – even when you are doing so from your home office itself. Exercise on your lunch break, before work, or even after your last meeting of the day. A simple walk around the block, a quick jog, or even jumping jacks done at your desk can benefit you mentally, emotionally, and physically.
Additionally, getting enough exercise throughout your day and during the afternoon can help to keep you refreshed later on in the evening, even after you are done with your work for the day.
To rest and exercise your mind, indulge in meditation as well as brain exercises. Take time to listen to your body to determine what you need throughout your days to avoid overworking yourself or feeling burnt out. The more in tune you become with your body and mind, the less likely you are to begin slacking off or losing sight of what is most important for your job as a CPA.
Working as a CPA from home is one of the best ways to achieve complete and total time flexibility and freedom, especially if you are doing so independently or with your very own firm. Whether you have only recently begun working from home as a CPA due to the COVID pandemic or if you simply wish to transition to working remotely for financial and flexibility purposes, CPAs have virtually endless opportunities when it comes to building their career online and from home.