Remote or In the Office

Do you think more gets done if your work is performed remote or in the office? This is really not a new question.

A Little Personal History

I can recall a number of times early in my career where I did a significant amount of work at home, while at the same time maintaining regular hours in the office. While this is not exactly along the lines of whether we are more productive working remotely or in the office, when I look back I can see some pros and cons then than are just as applicable now.

Focus

When considering whether remote or in the office makes the most sense, one of the first of many things that come to mind is the ability to stay focused. In those early career instances I mentioned I recall that sometimes there were things I needed to accomplish that really did not require input from anyone else. In fact, all I needed was some information and uninterrupted time to accomplish what needed to be done. In other words, I was able to focus without other distractions. Today, that ability is expanded with the addition of tele-commuting capabilities. While then I may have had to take paper work home, in many instances today all that is needed is a computer and sometimes but not always the ability to link back to the office. Again, the advantage is that you have the opportunity to work without being disrupted; that is if you have others on board with this necessity of uninterrupted time.

Recently I have been involved in implementing QuickBooks for a small company. While in years past this might have involved being onsite for most of the process, in this case the majority of the work has been performed from my own home. That work involved primarily setting up the essential aspects of QuickBooks, such as a chart of accounts, beginning balances, items, etc. Of course, before I could do this I did need to spend a little time discussing the client’s needs and wants, along with explaining some of the abilities and limitations of QuickBooks. After that, much of the initial work was more one of establishing a QuickBooks file with the basic structures in place. For that, time alone to focus and avoid distractions was very valuable. But, there is more to it than this.

Training

Even after creating an initial file for this company, it was still necessary to spend time training users on how to use QuickBooks. But, again, before doing this I took some time alone to sketch out what I needed to teach them. As a part of this training process the users actually entered historical data in a manner that mimicked what they would actually be doing when they begin using the system. Since I am more of a people person I really look forward to those times when I get to interact with others. If everything was done in a solo environment then it would get boring in real short order. Additionally, this time spent training gives me the opportunity to consider ways to improve the workflow. After all, a small business really wants to keep their accounting as simple as possible without forgoing good reporting capabilities. Speaking of reporting, that is another area where face-to-face interaction is important. Since many small business owners are not particularly knowledgeable of how to read financial reports, meeting with them in person is necessary to train them and address their concerns.

Just as importantly as what they learn, each time I work with a new client on anything I have the opportunity to learn more about the concerns of a small business.

So What’s the Answer

Although there are some people who just do better working alone almost exclusively while others require frequent interaction, I think most people are somewhat of a mixed bag. Of course, there are certain roles in a company that require a consistent on-site presence, such as a retail sales person. But, many roles from sales to accounting to operations may be more productive and happier with a mix.

If you are a business owner (particularly a small business owner) it may be difficult to let go of having someone there all the time, but you may be surprised to find that there is great benefit to a mixture of remote or in the office working arrangements.

If you want to know more, contact AimCFO – Contact

As always, your comments are welcomed.

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