2020 saw a huge rise in work from home for professionals. Many still struggle with running teams and ensuring productivity when they don’t see their staff live, in person, in the office, every day. I have heard bosses complain that their direct reports might go put a load of laundry in the washer during work hours.
There is a time and place for the office. I have dear friends who just cannot work from home – they prefer a commute to the office and thrive on the hustle and bustle. Professionals who need to meet with clients in person are best served with a traditional office. And for many, a hybrid solution works best. I believe that’s where we are truly headed.
Remote work, however, is here to stay. So if you manage a remote team, how do you ensure they are productive?
For one thing, I avoid micro-managing my team. Do they need to toss clothes in the laundry? Great! Do they want to mow the lawn at 10am on Tuesday? No worries! All I am interested in is making sure that the work is being done, in a reasonable length of time, and that the information I need for payroll gets to me timely. I can generally tell with a glance at a timesheet if staff members are spending too long on a client – and that’s a different discussion.
I have found that communication is the key to managing a team remotely. I do prefer to keep my team members local, so we can enjoy regular luncheons and in person training, Christmas parties, and so forth. There is a lot of value to building those relationships that are best done in person. With the relationships in place, it’s then easier to pick up the phone and ask for help, talk about vacations, or discover where additional training might be necessary.
We also hold weekly staff meetings. Occasionally they are tied to a lunch, but usually they are virtual. We review our clients, we talk about whether there is higher level accounting involved that will affect pricing for that client, personal issues that may affect staff ability to fulfill obligations (everyone has these come up), and what I can do as the boss to support my staff.
As a result, my staff members are comfortable letting me know where they have questions, what is going on in their lives that is relevant to work – or not – and talking about what training they would like to participate in next. They are also loyal to me, to the company, and to our clients.
Building a team focused on client services has been our biggest goal. No one ever calls in and can’t reach their bookkeeper – there is always someone available to help.
If you’d like to have our bookkeeping team work for your business, please give us a call!
Donna Harris holds a BSci in Accounting and is the owner of Bookkeeping Made Simple. She is currently working on her MBA.
Donna Harris, BSci Accounting, MBA student, founded Bookkeeping Made Simple with the understanding that small businesses is the heart of the American economy. After offering to do books for a friend who said he didn't have enough work to keep someone in the office 20 hours a week, she recognized the need for an efficient, online system. She has 20 years of bookkeeping and accounting experience and is excited to help small business owners achieve their goals. She enjoys spending time with her family and traveling whenever possible. She also loves reading, hiking, camping, cooking, yoga, and fitness. A huge believer in lifelong education, she is currently working on her MBA.