Blog Series: Real Tips from Real Accountants: Working Virtually

H&M has temporarily shifted to a virtual office environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Much like many other businesses, our team members are working remotely in an effort to keep themselves and our clients safe and healthy. While this is right and needed thing to do, that does not mean it doesn’t come without challenges. Continue reading below as some of our team members share their tips and best practices for being productive while working remotely. Also, it seems as though we have some new remote team members on staff….  of the furry kind. Check them out in the included photos and also take a look at a few of our team member remote work spaces.  

My best tips include, trying to wake up at the same time you normally would, try to mimic your normal day as best as you can. Also, try video chatting instead of phone calls. This helps create a sense of interacting without being around clients/colleagues. Lastly, take breaks or you will go insane… go for a walk, throw the ball with your dog, anything to break-up the day. – Zac Anderson, Senior Accountant

For me, it is all about getting into the zone work wise. I am not sure if I could accomplish this without the technology that is available to me and my colleagues. Our at-home set ups are identical to what we have at the office. There is nothing we can’t accomplish virtually. Knowing I have what I need to check off the items on my to-do list allows me to get in the zone and be productive. Coffee helps too!- Molly Pensyl, Marketing & Business Development Manager 

For me the best way to get things done is to break the day down in sections.  It’s not going to be the same as in the office.  For better or worse accept that and make the best of it.  I try to start the day be going through emails and figuring out what needs attention.  I also set aside time for breakfast and lunch with the kids since they are home.  Since the entire family is also home I try to get an early start so I can get a full day in even though there may be interruptions throughout the day. – Bryan Davidson, Manager

Working at home all day instead of in the actual office has been a big adjustment.  However, Holbrook & Manter successfully managed to keep our productivity consistent throughout the day while working from home by supplying us with the correct tools. Having the same office setup and same technology at home as in the office made the switch to the virtual office a smooth transition.  In addition, I still try to be online or available at the same time each morning just as I would be if I traveled to the office.  I also make sure to take a few breaks throughout the day to exercise, walk outside, or catch up with family- Jennifer Moore, Senior Accountant

Sticking to a schedule and a routine while working virtually, keeps me the most productive.  It can be easy to get distracted by other things in the house while working at home, but if I keep the same mindset and schedule I had while working in the office, I am able to stay focused on my work.- Natalie Bruns, Senior Accountant

My wife brings me coffee every morning and that helps to start the day off on the right foot!- Bradley Ridge, Managing Principal

My biggest tip would be finding a quiet space in your home to designate as your workspace and limiting as many distractions as possible while in this space. I have also found that designating specific times throughout the day to take ‘brain breaks’ and get outside for some fresh air/exercise has helped me to stay energized and more focused! I share my “office” with my COVID-19 workers… aka my dogs… Leo and Esee! They are pretty lousy accountants, sleep on the job, and seem to only be motivated to do anything when I have a treat in my hand.. but they are a great positive energy around the ‘office’!- Jennie K. Schott, Audit and Assurance Services Senior Associate

Communicating with teammates frequently using Microsoft Teams helps me. My current work set up consists of my laptop and second monitor on a TV tray and a barstool so it probably wouldn’t be an impressive picture.- Christian Oliver, Staff Accountant

You need to make sure your internet and computer can handle working virtually.  Is your internet speed sufficient?  Is your computer set up with everything needed?  Also, make sure you have everything you need near you (pencils, paper, phone charger, etc).  I keep a notebook and pen close by.  This way I can take notes that I can refer to later or work through problems. Even though I’m working at home, I try to keep home distractions to a minimum.  If I was at work I wouldn’t be able to do dishes or laundry, so I should save those chores for after work hours.- Julie Roe, Staff Accountant

My best advice is to try to keep as normal routine as possible- get up at same time, get ready, etc.  Be flexible though and stay calm.- Carmen George, Director

My advice is simple… maintain a routine and stick to it.- Joee Brandfass, Senior Assistant Accountant

My suggestion is to post a calendar & clock within view – as we hunker down in our corners to work – we often forget the day / time because our normal daily rhythm & flow have been disrupted.- Tammy Westbrook,  Staff Accountant

Find a work space that works best for you. For me, that has become my kitchen table. I have an assistant while working at home… my dog Max! He hasn’t shaved since the outbreak and he works for bones! –Dave Gruber, Director

Some of my tips… make your workspace your own. If that means that you need a quiet location, find a quiet location in your home. If you work better with music or a TV on for background noise, make sure that you have that set up to make your work experience better. Also, make sure that you are comfortable. If you need a more comfortable chair, invest in it. If you work better in sweatpants, go for it! Lastly, make sure that your internet speed and routers are up to the task. Test your internet speed at your home. If you find that it is too slow, talk to your internet provider to isolate the problems that your setup is having. It may be that your need a newer router, a faster internet speed or maybe both. I upgraded my router about 3 months ago and it made all the difference in the world. Take advantage of the fact that you can work from home. If that means that you want to sit out on your patio because you need a little sunlight in your life, take a break and do it! If you want to work late at night – go for it!- Mark Rhea, Senior Assistant Accountant