• Career Center

    Is a Remote Accounting Job Right for You? Ask Yourself These 4 Questions

    By | April 17, 2017

    What’s your ideal definition of “going to work”? Once upon a time, that wouldn’t even be a question. You’d go to an office.

    Technology and the internet have changed that forever. Workplaces are portable, and remote work arrangements are increasingly common, even in the accounting. These days, CPAs seeking a remote accounting job have options. But such arrangements aren’t for everyone. If you’re thinking about applying for one, take a step back and ask yourself these four questions:

    Do you get distracted by bright shiny objects?

    There are lots of distractions at home. Television, laundry, kids, etc… To be successful you need to be able to do good work, be available for meetings and meet all your deadlines. Sure, you can work in comfy sweats if you so choose. But there are certain expectations to consider. It’s important to keep in mind that flexible hours can go both ways. You may have to adjust your personal schedule to take a Skype call at 7 PM or spend some time working over a weekend to meet an unexpected deadline. Are you willing (and able) to tune out distractions and be available when needed?

    Are you proactive?

    If you are someone who gets a lot of satisfaction from doing a good job and don’t need much guidance or feedback, a remote accounting job may be for you. On the flip side, it’s easy to get lost when you’re a remote worker. Out of sight, out of mind. If you choose this path, you need to commit to contributing to the team’s efforts by making suggestions and recommending solutions—and following up about whether they are implemented.

    Are you self-motivated?  

    One of the benefits of working this way is that you don’t have to be at your desk from 8 am to 6 pm. You make your own schedule on days there are no meetings. Lots of freedom. But you have to be motivated. It’s not always easy, like on a beautiful spring day. That’s what you are signing up for, though, and you need to be able to honor your commitment.

    Do you communicate well?

    When you work remotely, no one but you knows how hard you are working. In fact, the on-site team may have visions of you doing something fun while they are slaving away. You have to let them know that you are an important part of the team even though you’re not physically present. How? By looking for opportunities to learn new things, providing input, keeping in contact with team members on a regular basis (maybe schedule quarterly lunches), and offering to help others succeed (perhaps by making an introduction to someone they’d like to meet). There are lots of ways, and you have to be able to recognize the ones that work best for you.

    A remote accounting job is a wonderful option if you have the right personality for it. Some innovative CPA firms don’t even have physical offices anymore. That may be shocking in such a traditional profession, but possibly a harbinger of its future. If becoming a partner at such a firm is one of your career goals, you are in luck. There are more opportunities than ever for you to pursue this path.

    • Big4Veteran

      Whenever I hear anyone say they are “working from home” I immediately assume they are fucking around. Period. No exceptions. It doesn’t matter what level you are in the organization. If you are “working from home”, I am almost certain that you are not working.

      • Why?

        • Big4Veteran

          1. A lot of experience dealing with people who claim to be “working from home”.

          2. Based on my own experience when I’m “working from home”.

          • Reasonable Assurance

            I’m inclined to agree but a rare few times a year I do work from home for convenience. For example, if I have someone coming in to fix/replace an appliance. I’d rather not take the whole day off to get my dishwasher replaced.

            But yes, the casual oh I’m working from home Friday = mailing it in, not doing a damn thing.

            • Big4Veteran

              I don’t disagree with anything you said above. I have done the same myself. But on those days, I am working no where close to 8 hours. How about you?

              I didn’t say that NO work gets done when you are “working from home”. I’m saying that only a tiny fraction of the work actually gets done that you’d could’ve gotten done in that timeframe. The only work that gets done at home is the stuff you absolutely have to get done for fear of being called out on for dicking around at home on the company’s dime.

            • Reasonable Assurance

              You are wise. It’s not necessarily the full 8 because I’m home for a reason. Something else was going to occupy some time.

            • Big4Veteran

              Furthermore, when even someone as high up as my CFO tells me that he’s “working from home”, I generally assume he’s on the golf course or banging his mistress.

            • HWSquared

              “working from home” – I start at 6am, I stop around 10am, I’ve usually done as much as I would in a day in the office. The rest of the day goes by in a blur of gin and barbecue meat.

          • dumpus

            It reassures me to know that I’m not the only one who feels the same about #1 due to #2.

            Has GC done a poll/survey recently asking people how many hours per week they actually spend “working” vs “being at work”, and how many hours of work per day people actually spend “working” when “working from home”?

            Just curious. It’s one of those things that *never* gets talked about around the coffee machine.

      • Chris

        Speaking in absolutes here a bit don’t you think? My wife has been “working from home” for a large company for nearly three years now. She has been promoted in that timeframe. She also generally ends up working ALL the time.

      • Frank

        I’m glad your brain is tiny Big4Vet … it enables more opportunities for everyone else.

    • Non_chargeable

      Some of us actually work from home on the time weekend, it’s called busy season.

    • Lord Treasurer

      This is an area that has been piquing my interest lately. I read the sponsored post yesterday from Beechwood and remain intrigued. I just wonder how legitimate it truly is.

      Anyone on here have much experience doing this?

      • Big4Veteran

        Are you a Beechwood employee? Be honest.

        • Lord Treasurer

          I am not. I work for a large local firm

    • Non_chargeable

      I spend half of my day on social media, whether I’m at home or at the office “working”. So what difference does it make?

      • Big4Veteran

        I am saying you would still do a lot more work if you were in the office than if you were home. Am I wrong about this?

        • Non_chargeable

          It depends what day of the week we’re talking about. Friday’s are social media and instant message days on the company’s dime.

          • Big4Veteran

            But if you’re in the office those days, at least you are at your desk and can be made to work if necessary. If you’re at home, you aren’t even fucking around on social media…you’re probably doing something more fun.

            • Non_chargeable

              As mentioned earlier, I spend half of my day on social media, whether I’m at home or at work. I fit the millennial stereotype of constantly being on my phone following social media pages that add no real value to my life.

        • Frank

          Yes. We’re not expecting you to understand. You can give up the good fight, you deserve to retire b4v … give up the ghost. How about a champagne toast at a posh golf resort? I know peeps.

      • sludgemonkey

        No porn filters at home.

    • There are absolutely some people who can (and do) get work done while working from home, and there is an equally large (if not larger) number of people who could but don’t. But then there are people who do well with online classes and those who need to be in class. It isn’t always a discipline thing on the part of the remote worker. Sometimes it has to do with company culture, or the employer who isn’t providing training, formalized processes, clear communication or the right tools. But yeah, shiny.

      • Big4Veteran

        “There are absolutely some people who can (and do) get work done while working from home, and there is an equally large (if not larger) number of people who could but don’t.”


    • Just to throw a spanner in the works, when I have worked from home, I’ve found myself working longer hours to make up for all the distractions from being at home.

    • But don’t any of you go on completely unnecessary CPD days at a conference just to get out the office?

    • Biff Tannen

      Will working from home ever be validated as a legitimate enterprise and not as mere gold-bricking for the weak? I hope so. I think it would make the rat race of life slightly better. If we can all acknowledge that no one actually does 40 hours of pure work per week, and that commuting into large cities from affordable suburbs kills a person’s soul, then maybe working from home would be viewed more favorably.