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.