So, your accounting firm has likely closed due to COVID-19 and you’re charged with working remotely or setting up your company's remote office, maybe even for the first time. What now?
Thankfully, companies have long been using technology platforms and apps to eliminate office headaches, whether planning for more efficient communication, collaboration or processing - and there are more options today than ever before.
Let’s dive into some technology options for getting started working remotely.
In this post, you’ll learn tips on how to optimize your remote accounting home office, what tools Vic.ai leans on itself, options for cloud accounting, and thoughts on how to protect your data.
It’s the foundation of your home office that might be most important for a successful approach to working remotely. This is the set-up that you’ll use all the time and is responsible for keeping you comfortable, even after the fourth conference call of the day.
Pro-tip: Make sure whatever space you’re using as a home office has a clean, bright, and appropriate background for any video calls you’ll be making (unless you want your colleagues to ask non-stop questions about your pet iguana, Fez, or see the Post-it with your laptop password; which BTW is a bad idea all around).
- Desk: If you’re looking to stretch your legs, try a standing desk. Amazon carries a wide variety in all shapes and sizes. If you need a desk that does it all, from standing and sitting to relaxing on the couch or bed, CozyDesk is it. But we recommend not using it as a bed desk if you’re going to be on video calls.
- Chairs, keyboards, keyboard trays, and mice: You’re going to be sitting for a while so ergonomic chairs are great when possible, but anything that gives you back support is going to be the way to go here. Additionally, Logitech and various other brands make curved keyboards and wireless mics that allow for better posture, less strain, and more wrist support.
- External webcam, microphone, and headset: Yes, these items are already built into your laptop, but depending on the model, your webcam’s default angle may be giving people a better look up your nostrils than at your face. Here’s a list of the best webcams to get you started. Additionally, many built-in microphones and headsets will leave you constantly asking your colleagues if they can hear you now. Or you’ll sound underwater or as if you’re in a tunnel. If you don’t want to go with something bulky, you can always defer to AirBuds or something similar.
What We Use at Vic.ai
In the spirit of sharing, here are a few of the tools we at Vic.ai, a globally dispersed company with a largely remote workforce, use daily for everything from communication to collaboration.
- Slack: We heavily lean into using Slack not just for 1.1 messaging, but with the channel feature to reach a group of team members in a specific department or location, like all members of Vic.ai’s NYC office. It’s an easy way to communicate and even survey a large group quickly, and you can create some lighter, work averse channels like a birthday or pets channel - for when you need a break from processing another invoice.
- Zoom: With pricing options for free all the way to the enterprise, it’s no wonder it’s one of the leading platforms for video meetings and webinars on your laptop or phone. It’s simple enough to work even for those who dread connecting to video conferences - and of course, you don’t have to show your face (it can be used for voice only dial-ins).
Pro-tip: If you don’t want people to know you’re working from your kitchen table, upload one of your images or videos as a virtual background and make your colleagues think you’re working from your beach house in Hawaii.
- G Suite: Like with many startups, Google’s G Suite apps and Google Drive offer a low-cost way to drive collaboration, communication, and access to all files everywhere in the cloud and on all devices. Additionally, G Suite gives your employees the closest feel to using a consumer-based product they’re already familiar with.
- WorkBoard: Especially as a remote focused company, when you’re not connecting with employees and colleagues in person, you need a way to align and measure the company’s performance activity and see what OKRs are being hit - and missed. For overall company management, we use Workboard to make sure we’re achieving our strategic priorities.
- DocuSign: If you’re a CPA still relying on hard documentation to get your clients’ John Hancock, it’s time to move to a paperless (and headache-less) signature solution like DocuSign. No more waiting on faxes, certified mail or worse, finding out that a client forgot to sign one page. A great tool to streamline work, both remotely and even when you get back to the office.
Blast Off to the Cloud with Your Accounting Tools and Tech Stack
If your accounting practice still depends on desktop or legacy client/server software, you’re going to find it way more difficult, perhaps impossible, to be successful with WFH accounting.
Regardless of whether you’re thinking about accounting software, enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, or payment processing platforms, the cloud is a remote employee’s best friend.
Remote accounting practices lean on popular software within their tech stack such as:
Note: All of these platforms either currently integrate with Vic.ai or will in the near future.
Lastly, Don’t Forget to Protect
It's easy to take security measures for granted when you’re in a corporate office. IT typically is responsible for deploying widespread, automated systems that protect your computer and WiFi systems. But in the confines of your home, there are a few items you’ll have to pay extra attention to:
- VPN: Your firm likely has a virtual private network that you should be logging into, even as you work from home. This encrypted network is an extension of your company’s network, protecting the work you send and receive, and limiting access only to your company. So that you can’t be hacked by those who may be on devices around you.
- Antivirus Software: Your firm may have deployed existing antivirus software like Norton or McAfee, but it’s important now more than ever to make sure you’re accepting requests to update this software when they pop up.
- Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): Whenever two-factor authentication is available, make sure you’re availing yourself of it. This means providing at least two pieces of evidence to the system to confirm your identity (typically your email and phone number or a code you receive via SMS, for example).
That should be enough to get you on the right track for now as you test drive WFH, but what technologies have you or your accounting firm used that have proved to be lifesavers? Let us know in the comments.
And if you’re serious about taking your remote accounting office setup to the next level, be sure to download our free eBook on The Future of Accounting Technology (Preparing for Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning).