TIPS FOR SUCESSFUL WORK HABITS FOR REMOTE EMPLOYEES
November 30, 2023
Working 100% remote and in a different time zone can be hard and it may take some time to fully adjust and be comfortable with the work setup. Meeting expectations could be more challenging in the first couple of weeks— adjusting in different areas such as time zone, firm culture and policies, IT, and accounting standards. In this regard, I want to share my experience and tips as a remote international employee at Larson & Company.
WORKING IN A DIFFERENT TIME ZONE
Philippine employees have different work shifts— some start their shift at 10:00PM to 7:00AM PH time while others do overlap shift from 3:00AM to 12:00PM PH time. Personally, I have adapted to working at night (10:00PM). If I am being honest, I am not a morning person and rather, more active at night. I see this fact as the primary driver why I was able to adjust to this work schedule quickly. However, everyone is unique in their own way! We all have diverse ways of dealing with changes, different sleeping patterns, or different personal situations. The article 12 Healthy Tips for Working Night Shift | USAHS was helpful for me during my adjustment. If one finds that their current night shift does not seem to work well for them, I recommend communicating their struggles with their managers or partners so they can help determine an overlap shift that may work best for you. In my experience, Larson & Company stands ready to help make this a rewarding experience for all and is open to figuring out a plan that is best for you.
successful Work HABITS
The activities listed below are some tips that help me ensure I am prepared for any engagement I am assigned. These tips have, by far, helped me stay on top of my assignments.
- I make sure my Outlook and Teams are always running from beginning until end of day. That helps me monitor and respond to my team and client needs in a timely manner. Moreover, Outlook Calendar helps me monitor my scheduled meetings during the day and assigned tasks for the week. That lets me know what tasks should be prioritized first.
- I list and monitor my priorities/to-dos every day. At end of day, I make sure to plan for my goals for the following day, specifically, what tasks to be completed by the next day. This way, I am setting an internal deadline for myself which helps me monitor my efficiency. I also update my priority/to-do list at end of day for planned tasks already accomplished.
- In prioritizing tasks, I focus first on tasks or engagements assigned for the week. If I find myself at a stopping point with my current task, I also revisit my previous weeks’ engagements to make sure my assignments are complete. If I still have more capacity after going back to my previous weeks’ engagements, I then reach out to managers or partners to see if there is anything additional they may want me to help with.
- Sometimes there are tasks with strict deadlines that need to remain on the high priority list even if there is another engagement that I am assigned already. Communicating those needs to the managers or supervisors for the engagement I am assigned for that week is the best way for teams to plan ahead, help identify what tasks to prioritize, and/or make changes to assignments if necessary. This is what I love about Larson as they are always focused on working as a team!
- Maintaining regular communication with the team is very important for a remote work environment. Here are some situations where timely and effective communication with the team is needed:
- During fieldwork, I ask questions to seniors or managers in a timely manner for items I am not sure of relating to client industry, accounting standards, audit approach or procedures, and the like. I also do quick research first regarding my questions either from the internet, Larson’s internal resources, or prior year audit workpapers if available. However, if I find myself just spinning wheels without much progress after 15 minutes, I reach out to seniors or managers to ask for help immediately. All managers and supervisors at Larson & Company are happy to help whenever a question arises. This is an area I love about Larson & Company that is different from other firms I have experienced.
- I make sure I attend every scheduled status call with my team. In this meeting, I can clearly express my thoughts and updates about my tasks and clarify questions when needed. In return, seniors and managers can help provide clear answers or recommendations without delays. This also helps seniors and managers track the progress of the engagement and assess whether adjustments to assignments are necessary.
- If I am running late for a meeting for whatever reason, I communicate the same to my team. I also communicate my personal, vacation, and holiday leaves in a timely manner. This helps the team plan ahead and reallocate tasks if necessary during the days that I am out of the office.
- When communicating to clients, I make sure that I copy my seniors and/or managers on emails for them to also track progress of communication. This lets them provide answers or recommendations for high level concerns on the engagement. Most importantly, I make sure I maintain professionalism when communicating with clients both through email and calls.
- I email Larson Support immediately for any IT related concern I encounter. Our IT personnel at Larson are very approachable and respond in a timely manner. This ensures that I have all the resources I need to be efficient and effective.
- At the end of each day, I make sure I file my time report for the day in our time tracking system. This information is helpful for my team to understand the engagement’s progress as well as to understand what area the engagement may need manager's or senior’s assistance to help obtain quicker responses from clients, training needed to help improve efficiency, or to timely communicate with a client regarding any findings and exceptions that may occur as a result of our engagements.
As a remote employee, I have learned that the rule of thumb to an effective remote work setup is maintaining effective and timely communication. Whether it is about concerns on tasks, feedback, vacations, or general questions, timely communication of such could help the team plan and provide appropriate adjustments or solutions to complete our engagements efficiently and effectively. Such communication also helps build trusting relationships to foster growth and advancement. Personally, I make sure to message at least one person (senior, manager, or partner) from my engagement team every day especially when it is not busy season.
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AT LARSON
When I joined Larson & Company in 2022, the first engagements assigned to me were audits of Captive Insurance Companies and Non-profit Organizations which I had no experience of working with before. I would say, aside from shifting to working at night, having no previous experience in these industries seemed to me at the time a major challenge. Thankfully, Larson & Company has in-house technical training about these industries. Additionally, knowledgeable seniors, managers, and partners are willing to answer industry-specific questions and are always open to hop on a call to do one on one training. Aside from technical training, Larson & Company also offers soft skill training which helps develop effective communication skills, teamwork, professionalism, and positive working habits, among others. All of these trainings have helped me improve my technical and non-technical knowledge and grow professionally.
WHAT MOTIVATES ME
The positive feedback, recognition, financial reward, and the sense of accomplishment when my team delivers a high-quality engagement on-time and on-budget are things that motivate me. The weekly feedback from a senior or manager lets me know of the areas I should work on and areas I excel in. The regular mentorship program with my mentor lets me express my thoughts about work and outside work and lets my mentor give advice or recommendations. Also, the annual Expectation Agreement with the guidance of a partner-in-charge helps me set my professional and personal goals. This culture of continuous improvement at Larson helps me grow to the professional and person I hope to be. Larson’s motto of “Achievement Through Constant Improvement” permeates everything that we do.
INCLUSIVITY, OPEN COMMUNICATION, AND WORK-LIFE BALANCE
Larson is inclusive of all. They treat remote employees fairly even though some are located very far from the main office. I am provided with equal opportunities such as training, recognition, and promotions. Remote employees are also empowered to share their thoughts comfortably whether related regarding work or personal life and are encouraged to have life outside of work. Managers and partners are willing to listen, provide feedback and recommendations, and focus on mentoring me to achieve my goals.
Overall, Larson & Company is a great place to work, especially for remote employees. I am glad to have the opportunity to work with and learn from approachable and kind teammates. I look forward to continued professional growth at Larson as a remote Philippine employee.
John DeViana is an Audit Senior with Larson & Company.