Are you and your accounting team ready to work from home efficiently? Check out these tips to get prepared
Let’s face it: we’re all tired of lockdowns, travel restrictions and any other COVID-related changes we didn’t sign up to. Two years have passed, and the prospect of yet another lockdown is still not off the table everywhere. But in the end, the involuntary experiment of working away from the office uncovered substantial advantages and more and more companies are now choosing to switch to remote or hybrid work permanently.
While the hardest yet maybe most important part is to embrace this move mentally, there are also practical things to consider. This article has some tips and suggestions with regard to accounting and bookkeeping processes that will help you get prepared for WFH.
1. Create proper conditions for working from home
If you or your team members are still working at the kitchen table, it might be time for a change. Being productive in a WFH environment does require a designated space. Ideally a separate room but if that’s not possible you should set up a workplace where you’ll be least distracted. Tell your family when they can and cannot disturb you, for instance by making a schedule or using a certain object on your desk to communicate when they shouldn’t interrupt.
Your internet connection is not always stable and reliable? Get it sorted. If you haven’t yet found the perfect solution for team communication, now is the time to look at the apps and processes in place – and make changes for the better. The point of the exercise is to cut as many distractions as possible and eliminate any stress factors so that you and your team can easily move the work forward. This includes educating your team on how to create a comfortable WFH environment fit for the job.
2. Introduce time management to improve the work-life balance
When you’re working from home, it is difficult to keep your work and personal life apart. A designated workspace does help but there’s always the temptation to leave that report for now and finish it later, with the risk of not getting round to it and being too exhausted from procrastinating to do it in the evening. We all have days like this and that’s okay, if it happens from time to time. But you’ll feel much better if you use time management techniques to help you focus.
There are plenty of approaches to time management. For example, the Pomodoro method: focus on the task at hand, batch similar tasks like approving invoices together, block designated time for deep work in your calendar, and so on. Don’t forget to share your favourite methods to assist your team with being more productive. It’s also a good idea to organise a workshop on time management for your accounting team and set up some common rules aimed at raising productivity. You can find more efficiency tips for accountants in this article.
3. Leverage cloud and automation tools for continuous operation
Working from home means you need digital tools to manage data and communicate with your colleagues and/or customers. Going back to using paper processes after two years of pandemic is highly unlikely, but there’s probably more room for improvement, such as introducing automation tools for tedious tasks like manual data entry or compiling reports from lots of spreadsheets. Accounting automation reduces costs and increases team efficiency by eliminating manual labour and human error. This lessens the workload and accountants can focus on high-value strategic tasks.
Cloud-based centralised data management will also cut costs and enhance collaboration. The right tools provide an easy way for capturing, accessing, sharing and analysing data. So, if there are still any inefficiencies in your accounting processes, now is the time to take action.
How ApprovalMax helps accountants and bookkeeping professionals work remotely
When it’s not possible to approve invoices and purchase orders on paper, your first thought is probably about using emails instead. Yet those who’ve tried will say that it’s pretty inconvenient and time-consuming as soon as there are more than 10 documents to approve each month: someone has to send out invoices, track the approval process and chase decision makers while approvers waste time on searching for invoices in their inboxes. Add this stress to the other hurdles of working from home, and you’ll quickly realise how far from perfect, or even just useful, this approach is.
ApprovalMax is one of the essential automation tools for accounts payable and accounts receivable. It’s designed to solve such problems and ensures efficiency in WFH environments. With our invoice approval system for Xero and QuickBooks Online, you set up a workflow just once and then it just runs like clockwork. Approvers get automated notifications and can make their decision wherever they are, without needing access to the general ledger. Once all approval steps have been completed, the document gets published to the accounting system. It’s an easy, quick and safe way to run approvals, even when working from home.
Our migration to a digital approval workflow was very timely during this pandemic. Approvals are now faster, well-documented, traceable and most of all paperless. This is our contribution to Mother Earth.Elvis Pronoso, Xero App Store review
The multi-tier workflow for the approval of invoices has streamlined processes in the school. It has introduced better expenditure control and the purchase order system is fantastic. Having this software interfacing with Xero has been amazing during the Covid-19 lockdown. Budget holders like to use the software. The Accounts department is now completely paperless.Susan Blok, Xero App Store review
Being in a lockdown is tough but if you organise your day using our tips and have the right tools for work, being productive away from the office will be a lot easier. Besides, studies show that WFH actually has some benefits for the environment. So, keep calm and be prepared — we’ve got your approval workflows covered!