When I decided to go back to school to become an accountant, part of the draw was the ability to work remotely. Thank goodness I made that decision seven years ago. My world would look totally different if I had continued working as a Montessori pre-school teacher.
My husband, part-owner of a bike store here in Boise, does not have the option to work remotely, and he can’t just “ride the pandemic out” from home (pun intended). Seeing him navigate and problem-solve in this new business climate – following the everchanging city ordinances while also working to keep his staff and customers happy and safe – has given me a newfound appreciation for my flexibility as an accountant. In this blog, I’ll share my experience making the unexpected shift from a typical 8-5 workday in the office to the remote-work life.
On Friday, March 13th, my CEO announced that we all needed to collect our necessities from the office and shift to working from home. At that point in time, the idea of working remotely until the end of May seemed reasonable.
Our office is a thriving accounting firm servicing the nonprofit sector, and I work on a small team specializing in 990s and state charitable solicitations. Not far from my office space is a breakroom, which houses our ping-pong and foosball tables, a keg, and a large television stocked with video games.
The breakroom always drew a steady stream of employees throughout the day. I often heard the ebb and flow of laughter as the breakroom door opened and closed. A friendly face stopping by for a quick chat was a regular occurrence for me before that Friday the 13th.
Now, my office mates include my ragdoll cat, who has taken up residence in the chair next to me, and my giant standard poodle who, I have learned, dreams a whole lot. I’ll be honest; they’re not the most productive office mates.
The first couple of months shifting to remote work was more challenging than I expected. I initially had worked two days a week from my home office, so I thought it would be an easy transition. Not so much.
I quickly discovered that I had been working more hours from home than I had at the office. As my commute became just a few steps from my bed to my home office, saving about an hour in driving and prep time, I had decided to hop on and start work a little early. And because I didn’t need to pack up and drive home at the end of the day, I found myself working just a little later.
The endless opportunity to snack became my real Achilles heel. My refrigerator, fully stocked and only 10 feet away, was irresistible. I sat there working, day after day, blissfully unaware that I was gaining weight as my yoga pants happily lied to me over those next two months. My unforgiving slacks would have told me the harsh truth.
As time crept by, and I started feeling out of sync and out of touch with my coworkers, with only the fear of the unknown to keep me company in my office.
At the end of May, our CEO announced that we would not be coming back to the office, and we would be working remotely indefinitely until further notice. Surprisingly, I felt a wave of relief; at least now I could fully commit to the work-from-home life. It was time to set up a new routine for the long haul.
The first thing I did was set up a weekly Zoom meeting with my manager. Even if the call is not 100% work-related, just having that scheduled weekly time to reconnect did wonders for us. I also reached out to my coworkers randomly just to see how they were doing. Even if I didn’t actually run into them much at the office, I wanted them to know I was thinking about them.
You never know how someone’s life has been affected by the pandemic. It was nice to hear how each one of my coworkers was coping.
The next thing I tackled was my uncontrollable snacking. I decided I would start rationing out my snacks each day to keep it under control. After a month of monitoring, I finally fit back into my slacks again.
I also adjusted my work schedule so that I would start when I typically did at the office and made sure I stopped working at my usual time. As I made these adjustments, I found the new rhythm to be much more comfortable, and I could fully embrace the remote-work life.
After switching to remote-work, I started noticing several benefits. One significant benefit was saving over an hour a day in transit and prep time. Working from home, I will save roughly 260 hours per year in transit and prep time. Think of how much more studying you can squeeze in for the CPA with that extra time saved!
Another benefit I experienced was working out on my lunch breaks; I couldn’t have done that before. I have a treadmill that I can hop on, which has been a fantastic break and stress reliever.
I also noticed by the budget has been looking better. Since I don’t eat out anymore, I’m saving at least $30 a week that I used to spend eating out with coworkers. I’m also saving well over $120 a month on gasoline.
In the end, I’m grateful to be working as an accountant during this crazy time and to have this opportunity to work remotely. If you’ve made the transition to working from home, I hope you’ve settled in by now, you’re staying healthy and safe, and that you’re crushing it!
– Laura D., guest blogger for UWorld Roger CPA Review
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