Home Alone. But Not Really.

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As I stood in the shower one morning earlier this week the words, “This feels like war” came to mind. Not that I’ve been in one. But I’m experienced enough to recognize the panic, uncertainty and vulnerability.  Moments later, with coffee in hand in front of the TV, I listened as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stated, “This is a war. We have to treat it like a war.”

War, according to military wisdom, requires an approach that is both tactical and strategic. This article focuses on tactics—preparing yourself and marshaling your troops for success on a new kind of battlefield. One with toys underfoot and a dog howling in the background.

Talking to a number of firm leaders in recent days, my sense is that we are getting our ducks in a row with the mechanics of remote work and collaboration. Among concerns coming from these conversations, however, is an anticipated drop in productivity. This came home to me when our daughter’s millennial boyfriend observed, “Well, nobody will know if I have a beer at 4 p.m.!” Point well taken; we need to prepare.

I’ve come up with two sets of productivity practice tips, one for managing partners and the second for all team members.

If Your Team is Working from Home

Optimal productivity will result from both left-brain and right-brain approaches. Most of us are left-brained, so linear actions are easier, and many are already in place. Examples are implementing technology and establishing tracking and work-flow systems. Other tips for MPs:

  • Modify your pipeline process. Your pipeline is your lifeline. Amend the process to include not only active opportunities, but a separate category for clients at risk. Take an extra 30-minutes (or longer depending on at-risk status and other factors). This will keep you connected around the critical goal of sustaining revenue.
  • Keep the Research Calls going. Now more than ever, Research Calls are the single best way to learn about the issues facing your clients, and those impacting the market. Over time this will translate to consulting revenue. Instead of in-person, use Zoom or other platforms for the calls.
  • On the right-brain side, it’s all about keeping people uplifted. I recommend a regular cadence of Community Circles, Zoom meet-ups of 4-7 people. This is a powerful way to keep your people energized, and help them retain their self-identity as valuable members of a team. It’s also a good forum for sharing experiences, tips and best practices. Identify circle leaders who will schedule and manage these sessions. The circle members can choose time and format. Get creative!

If You’re Working from Home

Share these tips with your team. While some may have experience working remotely for extended periods of time, many will not.

  • Create an office space that is uniquely yours. Communicate in your own style to family members of all ages when you’re working and shouldn’t be interrupted.
  • Get dressed! Continue to suit up for the game, whatever your “suit.” Dressing for the day helps you get in the zone mentally. A football player doesn’t go out on the field in sweatpants and a tee-shirt, right?
  • Stick to a schedule. Until you can trust yourself, impose a schedule that will help you stay productive and organized and avoid the countless distractions. Think of it as at-home training wheels.
  • Go easy on yourself. It can take time to get used to a new, remote identity and workstyle. After years in a professional office, working from home can leave you feeling isolated and dislocated. I know because I’ve been there. But over time you’ll realize that it’s the same you, just in a different setting—one with a washing machine and a refrigerator nearby.

Whether you’re a managing partner or a valued team member, I wish you the best as, together, we navigate these Changing Times.

Gale Crosley

About Gale Crosley

Gale Crosley, CPA, has been awarded The Advisory Board Hall of Fame. She was selected one of the Most Recommended Consultants in the Inside Public Accounting BEST OF THE BEST Annual Survey of Firms for fifteen years, and one of the Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting by AccountingToday for fourteen years. She is an honors accounting graduate from the University of Akron, Ohio, winner of the Simonetti Distinguished Business Alumni Award, and an Editorial Advisor for the Journal of Accountancy. Gale is founder and principal of Crosley+Company, providing revenue growth consulting and coaching to CPA firms. She brings more than 30 years of experience, featuring a unique combination as a practicing CPA in two national accounting firms, along with significant experience in business development in the cutting edge technology environment with such firms as IBM and MCI.

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