Tuesday, May 14, 2019

More than a Remote Chance

Back in high school I had a friend whose father was, often, home, when I came over to his house. I assumed he was unemployed, but then my friend explained that he was a financial planner, just when that line of work was beginning to make inroads to the career mainstream and that he worked from an office in their house.

His office was rather austere, a single telephone, rows of financial and accounting-related books on the shelf, an adding machine, certificates on the wall and an overflowing rolodex – remember those?

Desktop computers were still roughly a decade away from becoming an office staple.

As someone with two working parents – one based in an office and the other in a hospital lab, I found it hard to wrap my head around the idea of a home-based office. I wasn’t so sure I wanted to see my parents both in the morning and the minute I returned from school.

But that was then, and this is now.

I won’t go out on a limb and say that working “remotely” as opposed to the old vernacular of “working from home” has become the rule rather than the exception, but in a recent survey of some 200 CPA firms almost half (43 percent) had staff who worked exclusively from home. While more than 40 percent of those polled said that remote workers allowed them to hire outside their established geographic markets.  And some 82 percent indicated that they retained the remote worker even when said worker moved away.

In fact, telecommuting overall has increased 115 percent over the past three years. Companies are rapidly realizing the efficiency of the trend, not to mention sidestepping the often-exorbitant costs of traditional bricks and mortar as well as lease headaches.

On a personal note, I have worked remotely for the past seven years. True, after a quarter century in a formal office environment, it took a while to get used to – particularly the daily interaction with staff. Conversely, I did not miss the daily commute one iota.

No doubt, working remotely got an exponential boost in popularity and ease with the advent of cloud-based applications – either performing their assignments at home or via camping out in local retail outlets.  

Walk into any Starbucks and you’ll no doubt witness several people banging away on their computers – venti latte by their side – and it’s a safe bet that at least some are performing client accounting services, where location is irrelevant.

I doubt I will ever want to go back to the traditional office structure and I just learned my town got the approval to open a Starbucks.

Venti bold here I come.

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