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Mar 11, 2016

Work-at-Home: A Checklist for Success

Allison O'KellyBy Allison O’Kelly, CPA, CEO and founder of Corps Team

Workplace flexibility is becoming a higher priority for many employees. That includes men and women. Those with and without children. But is it unrealistic? Is it bad for businesses? No and no.

WomensHisMon_J_reducedIn a recent post Mom Corps shared the significant cost savings businesses can achieve by allowing employees to work from home (IBM and Sun Microsystems saving tens of millions of dollars). This Stanford study shows it improves employee productivity by 13 percent. Global Workplace Analytics shares research that companies see an increase in attendance and reduction in attrition when employees are given the option to telecommute. In the accounting world, companies such as Atkinson & Co. and Opsahl Dawson have leveraged technology to provide employees with flexible work options.

In addition to saving the employer, employees save time and money by eliminating or reducing travel to and from work. A worker’s average commute is 45 minutes each day, which costs about $2,600 per year. In addition to the savings, there are health benefits.

Working from home isn’t for everyone, though. So how do you decide if it’s right for you, and how can you succeed at working from home?

Start by first considering these questions:

  • What tools and technology do you need access to? (Cloud-based file sharing and virtual collaboration, video conferences, and other communication tools)
  • What kind of support is provided to ensure the success of working from home?
  • How are employees managed? (Results-based measurements vs. time and location, availability of management during off hours, and frequency of communication)
  • When asking management for the opportunity to work from home, provide examples of how you’ve demonstrated self-motivation and good time management skills

If you request to work from home was approved, here are some tips to help make it a success:

  • Have childcare arranged during work hours
  • Have a dedicated space to work (consider proper ergonomics, needed tools within reach for efficiency, professional backdrop if video conferencing, and quiet space for calls)
  • Set a schedule…and stick to it (It helps you focus and lets your co-workers and boss know when you are available)
  • Multitask with caution (Keep in mind work is the focus during work hours)
  • Get dressed (How we dress can influence how we carry and conduct ourselves)
  • Stay on top of communications (e-mails, voice mails, etc.)
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions

Allison O’Kelly, CPA, is the CEO and founder of Corps Team, which includes Mom Corps, Corps Search, and Corps Advisory. She is a PICPA member and a workplace expert who has been recognized by EY Winning Women, Working Mother, Inc 500. You can find her on Twitter @allisonokelly.

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  • Judy O'Dell | Mar 17, 2016

    I've "worked from home" as a sole proprietor since 2002. I agree with Antonia that unreliable internet connection is the biggest obstacle. I've scrapped the painfully slow DSL in one of my locations and the Time Warner connection in another and now use my Verizon Jet Pack because there is reliable 4G connection in both locations- expensive- yes- but time is money!

  • Allison O'Kelly | Mar 15, 2016
    Antonia - Yes, technology is key when working from home.  When all else fails, there's Starbucks!
  • Antonia M. Lafferty, CPA | Mar 14, 2016
    I found the biggest impediment to be the internet connection that isn't always stable.  I use Comcast internet and while it normally functions adequately, it can go on the fritz unexpectedly (yesterday for example).  Using Citrix for my connection to the office is also tricky, in part due to the fact that our organization frowns upon people working from home so Citrix is not aligned with the latest version of Explorer at our organization, which means I have to run two different internet programs.  All in all, though, I have been able to be very productive those times that I have had to work at home.

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