- Name: Mandy Eldridge
- Title: Director of Tax and Operations
- Firm size: 6 employees
- How long at the firm: November 2016 (I also worked with the firm in its start-up phase in 2013/2014)
- How long have you been working remotely: Since January 2014, 5-7 days a week
The transition to working remotely
Do you work in a remote office/work space environment or work from home?
How did working remotely come about?
Initially, I helped get my current firm off the ground in 2013/2014. Part of the time I worked in Atlanta from home, and part of it, I was consulting in CO where the firm is located. I developed a seamless system working from home and ended up contracting for a CA based firm, which I took full-time employment with in the spring of 2014. At that point, I became a 100% virtual employee.
IT at your house
Do you use a desktop or laptop? If a laptop, do you have a docking station?
Laptop with a docking station
How many monitors do you have?
One additional monitor
Do you print at the house?
Not often, but when I do, I have a Canon.
Does the firm pay for your technology at home?
The CA firm I previously work for did pay for most of my technology, but I retained it when I resigned.
Do people in the office have the same IT setup at your firm?
CA firm, yes, current firm, no
How does the cloud impact working from home?
It is CRITICAL!!! I want to be able to work from anywhere I go. I enjoy traveling and often need to fit work in wherever I end up.
Being part of the firm
How do you socialize with other employees?
This was the toughest piece. I’m a very social individual and struggled with the isolation of my home office. I traveled to my CA office twice a year and really enjoyed that. I also kept relationships alive via daily Skype work and personal conversations. I really ended up cultivating great working relationships. I also briefly worked out of the Alpharetta Xcentric office once a week just to see real, live people.
Does your firm use any communication tools such as chat, intranet, etc?
Formerly – Skype. Currently – Slack. We also utilize GoToMeeting very regularly.
Do you use video at all, i.e. have video meetings with other firm employees or clients?
We use GTM often, however, video isn’t always used. Frankly, I wear workout clothes mostly every day.
What are the chances of you working for this firm if you were unable to work remotely?
Zero. I don’t intend to relocate my family.
Do other employees work from home?
At my current firm, everyone works from a home office.
Has your production increased or decreased?
I would say increased. I have become extremely self-motivated and have setup accountability measures to make sure I can “go to work” every day and keep it all about work. It helps that I have a dedicated office in my basement. I literally leave the main living level of the house and feel as if I’m entering an office.
How do you think working remotely will impact your success with your firm? Your career?
It’s been very good for me. I’ve managed to impress higher-ups at my prior firm and show them that a remote employee can manage a team as well as run firm processes and productivity. Currently, I’m on the partner level at my firm, so I would say I’ve achieved my goal!
Do your clients know you work remotely? If so, what have your clients said about you working remotely?
All of them do. I always make that very clear and let them know if they need a face-to-face meeting, I can rent a conference room for that. I can tell there is less of a negative connotation to that now than there was even three years ago.
Did you have to sign a work from home policy or have any other standards you must adhere to?
What advice would you give to another CPA firm employee looking to work remotely?
It isn’t for everyone. If one is able to compartmentalize easily, then he/she can be successful. If not, I wouldn’t recommend it.
What advice would you give another CPA firm looking to have more employees work from home?
Do it, but the firm needs to have a criteria to find the right people. That’s an ambiguous answer, but they need to hire well and then let those employees have freedom. They need to really believe in allowing those employees to “get the work done” and not try to micro-manage from afar.
What is a personal lesson you have learned to keep you more productive?
I’ve learned to always have a to-do list and plan ahead what I will accomplish each day.
Has accountability/production suffered in the past when it comes to your annual review? How has that changed since going remote?
Not at all. I feel like I always try to prove myself by doing an extra-good job as a remote employee.
What is the number one benefit of working remotely for you?
Availability to my children. I don’t ever rush them out the door. I allow them to wake up when they’re ready (which, let’s be real, is still too early!) and send them to pre-school at our leisure. That’s also the beauty of working for firms in later timezones. I always power through lunch and take meetings after the kids go to bed, but flexibility has been such a blessing for me and my family.
Remote series items
- How to Decide If a Remote Team Is Right For Your Firm webinar
- Remote Employees: Plan Ahead for the Inevitable
- Using the Ability to Go Remote As a Key Tactic in Your Retention Strategy
- How to Build a Remote Team & Best Practices whitepaper
- More blog posts featuring Q&A sessions from employees who work remotely