For many accounting professionals, working from home seems like a professional dream, especially when compared to long commutes and inflexible office hours. The reality, of course, is somewhere in the middle. Before you make the jump to a full-time telecommuting position, take time to weigh the pros and cons.
Flexibility is one of the most appealing aspects of working from home. Instead of waking up and heading to the office, you can pull your laptop into bed and answer client emails in your pajamas. If you prefer to handle long tax forms in the evening after your children are in bed, you're free to do so. During a long conference call, you can take care of the dishes and laundry without missing out on work. The majority of accounting tasks can be done without face-to-face client contact, so you can work from almost any location.
Better Work-life Balance
If you can create a distinct separation between work time and personal time, working from home can help you create a better work-life balance. Taking away the morning and evening commute adds extra time into your day for personal pursuits. Instead of resorting to junk food and couch-potato habits during tax time and the end of the fiscal year, you can break up your work hours to make healthy meals and exercise. And, when personal situations come up during the day, you can adjust your work schedule accordingly without having to make explanations for your absence in the office.
For accounting professionals, one of the biggest drawbacks to working from home is data security. When you are not in a protected office environment, you must be vigilant about the security of your clients' financial details. The extra precautions required from home-based accountants can be a significant hassle. All paper files must be kept in a safe and locked location, while digital data must be kept out of your personal records. Instead of saving and working on files on a local server, your company may require that you use a VPN to connect. What's more, many employers may have reservations about allowing sensitive data out of the office, which can lead to micromanagement and mistrust.
If you have plans to climb through the ranks of your company to a high-level financial position, working from home can put you at a disadvantage. Without a constant presence in the office, your work and efforts are not immediately visible to your boss. He will not see when a client thanks you profusely or leaves the office delighted after you've found a special tax break. He won't witness your long hours or comprehend the amount of time you spend combing through financial records to create an investment strategy. It can also lead to a breakdown of relationships and poor communication. When the time comes for promotions, the honors may be more likely to go to the person who comes in early, stays late and constantly showcases his work.
Working from home can be a fun and flexible alternative to a traditional nine-to-five schedule, but it is not without drawbacks. By analyzing your personal motivations, time-management skills and career goals, you can determine whether a telecommuting position is a smart choice.
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