Promoting a Healthy Work-Life Balance for Remote Accounting Teams
May 28, 2020 | By John Siegel
Just when accountants thought they were starting to figure out the work-life balance thing (or at least knew what it was supposed to look like), a global pandemic hit, sending office dwellers into quarantine and a life of full-time remote work.
As a result, it soon became apparent that work-life balance for traditional employees and work life balance for remote accounting teams were entirely different.
As the saying goes, strong culture starts at the top. Here are a few tips that will help leaders support their team and help establish a healthy work-life balance for remote accounting teams as the "concept" of normal takes on a new meaning.
3 Tips For Promoting Work-life Balance for Remote Accounting Teams
Set Clear Expectations
We aren’t going where you think we are with this one. The times of day employees are working during the quarantine is probably not 8-5. If they are juggling children and spouses at home, they may be taking work in shifts. This may result in early mornings or late evening work hours with emails being sent at 5 a.m. or 9 p.m.
Employees are compelled to respond to communication from leaders during work hours because it's their job, but an unforeseen result of the shelter-in-place order is that staff may be compelled to respond no matter what time it is, given the level of uncertainty everyone is facing.
Make sure you are clear with your staff about your response time expectations — that includes when they DON’T have to respond.
Draw the Line in the Sand
Encourage your staff to set boundaries around their own work hours. Check in with them and ask how it is going. Be willing to offer support through a listening ear or find potential ways to draw the boundaries they may not have thought of. Remember that we are all struggling with uncertainty, possibly illness or other significant demands we have never had to face before. Also, modeling the behavior you expect of your employees is just as important in this tip as the previous.
Loosen the Purse Strings
The majority of our staff members did not have a dedicated home office pre quarantine. Be willing to provide additional office equipment or supplies to help your staff be as comfortable and productive as reasonably possible. A new mouse, additional monitor, or an office chair will cost you a lot less than the loss of productivity in the long run. These gestures also go a long way towards promoting loyalty and employee happiness.
We love leadership’s perspectives for maintaining a comfortable work-life balance — but sometimes it is easier said than done.
3 Tips to Ensure YOU are Getting a Healthy Work-life Balance
Shut the Door
Distractions are always a productivity killer no matter where we are working, but for some of us, working from home takes distractions to an entirely new level. Studies show it takes us 15 minutes to get back into a good level of concentration. If we are constantly getting interrupted by the dog wanting us to throw the ball or the kids asking for something, our productivity plummets.
Try your best to create a distraction- free space to work. If you have the luxury of an office (or dedicated room) to work in, shut the door. Add a sign or sticky note for your family or roommates so they know when you can not be interrupted. If you work well listening to music, put your headphones in and dig into your work.
Getting our work completed in an efficient manner will allow for more free time.
Working from home can be both a blessing and a curse. Need to put your laundry in the dryer? No problem, hop to it. Five minutes and you are back to work. Have a hankering for a bagel and cream cheese? Five minutes and you are back at work enjoying your snack.
I am sure you can see where we are going with this — every five minutes adds up and before you know it, you are cleaning your apartment or mowing your lawn and haven’t gotten any work done.
Working from home requires a lot of self-discipline, especially when your motivation is low.
Explore different time management strategies to find what works for you. Some of our favorites are apps for your phone that include a “focus” timer. You can also set time limits to complete tasks or projects. This method tricks you into thinking you have a deadline and increases your commitment to finishing. Another effective time management tool is focusing your morning on your most important tasks. We are usually more focused in the morning, and you will enjoy the feeling of accomplishment for the rest of the day.
Set Boundaries Around Your Work Time
The good, the bad, and the ugly side of working from home includes the ability to work 24/7. If we aren’t careful, our desire to “...just get one more thing done...” will result in working many more hours than we would have otherwise.
To the extent possible, set your work hours and stick to them. When your day is done, turn your computer off and shut your office door. Resist the temptation to respond to emails from the couch while watching a movie.
Some of us will find working from home to be a good fit, and some will find it is not. Either way, this is a new reality for many of us and could continue for the next several months. Whether you fit in the “love it” or “hate it” camp, choose one of our tips to implement starting tomorrow. You won’t be sorry!