Remote working as an accountant or finance professional may have its challenges, but it can benefit your career development. Keep reading to find out how you can maximise productivity whilst working from home.
Working from home might pose disruption to normal office life, but there is a silver lining of this situation in the form of extra time. Without the daily commute, there is more time in the mornings and evenings, which you can use to your advantage.
One of the best ways you can use this extra time is by working on your personal and professional development. In this period of self-isolation, it is crucial to stay motivated and career-focused, even if you feel like the normality of traditional working life is far from reach. This article outlines a number of ways of how to boost your prospects as an accountancy or finance professional. From listening to podcasts to enrolling on online courses, these tips vary in intensity, but they are all going to benefit your career in either the short-term or the long-term.
Top tips on how to spend your extra time:
- Update your CV
- Re-think your Social Media
- Online Courses and Resources
- Learn a Language
- Read up on the industry
Update your CV
This may not have been a priority beforehand, but updating your CV is an excellent use of your time. You might not be actively job seeking, however if you get into the habit of updating your CV with recent experience on a regular basis, it will certainly do no harm in the long run. You may have taken on new duties and responsibilities since working from home which have bolstered your skill set, or used new software, for example, many remote workers now use Zoom to host meetings.
Re-think your Social Media
You may be spending a lot more time on social media than usual in isolation. However, now is an ideal opportunity to tidy up your online profiles. Make sure that you have no inappropriate statuses, tweets or photos lingering on your social pages. This is all the more apt with the increasing number of employers (both current and prospective) checking the social profiles of employees. A respectful and professional online presence is crucial, especially in a career like accounting.
You should also take the opportunity to re-think your social media in terms of an industry knowledge perspective. Be proactive; join groups and follow interests related to you and your career. This is one of the easiest ways to keep on top of current developments and insights.
Online Courses and Resources
Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean that your opportunities for career development are restricted. There are many different online courses that you can do to boost your skills and further develop your knowledge.
In a recent webinar hosted by Accountancy Age which discussed the profession’s response to COVID-19, they highlighted that one of the key ways accountants can help their clients during this difficult time is by developing a strong understanding of cash flow (an area posing particular challenge for clients). They also recommended that accountants should take online courses focusing on core areas such as budgeting, bookkeeping, balance sheets and financial statement analysis. In addition, it would also be beneficial to take courses around key software programmes including Excel, QuickBooks, Xero and Sage.
Not sure where to start? Popular sites include Udemy, Coursera, Skillshare and FutureLearn (you can compare and contrast the sites here). Due to current circumstances, a number of courses are now being offered free of charge, making now an ideal time to take your personal and professional development into your own hands.
Not ready to commit to a course? Webinars are a great way to expand your knowledge, and they are often free to join. Register for upcoming webinars on Accountancy Age, or browse the series of online webinars on the ICEAW website. These cover a range of learning material, from top ten hot topics in UK GAAP to tips for developing Excel and PowerPoint skills.
Podcasts are not only great for relaxing outside of working hours, but they can also be very informative and educational. PlayerFM features podcasts of many different genres, and they have even collated a list of the Best Work From Home Podcasts. However, if you’re looking for something more sector-specific, those including Accounting Best Practices, Journal of Accountancy and Accounting Today are great to get the ball rolling.
Accounting Degree Review has a list of the Top 50 Best Podcasts for Accountants, which cover a broad range of topics, from ACCA student advice and Big 4 insights to John Garrett’s What’s your “And”?, which has a more comic twist.
Learn a Language
Fluency in a second language is a highly sought-after skill, so as well as brushing up on your industry knowledge related to the profession, why not learn a new language? According to the experts from LearnALanguageOnline.net, bilingual professionals have the potential to earn up to 10-15% more than their monolingual counterparts.
Learning another language also opens the door for potential opportunities with global firms or businesses. Since many of the qualifications offered formal accounting bodies are recognised overseas, developing your language skills will put you in a better position should you consider an international move.
You can find language courses on any of the online course sites we mentioned earlier, but if you’re looking for a platform dedicated specifically to languages, try sites such as Mondly, Babbel and Duolingo. These platforms aim to make language learning easier by offering fun and interactive lessons.
Read up on the industry
This is easily one of the most productive ways to spend your time. Developing an awareness of key industry trends, insights and news will not only give you a newfound investment and motivation, but it will also establish your authority within your own team. It shows that you’re going above and beyond in your role and adopting a career-minded standpoint.
In the Accountancy Age webinar, they recommended keeping abreast of the following industry related subjects in the current climate:
- Understanding time value of money
- Financial ratios
- Asset impairment
- Business tax
- Spreadsheet platforms
Magazines, trade papers, blogs and news sites are a great first point of call for brushing up on your knowledge. As mentioned above, listening to industry related podcasts and joining related groups on social media is also beneficial.
Many professionals underestimate the importance of networking, but the reality is that networking is everything when it comes to staying on top of your game. Given the situation, everyone is in the same boat of self-isolation and it is likely that people will be more open to forming professional relationships. You should use this time to develop new connections and build rapport with others in the industry. Join online groups and forums and drop a note to former colleagues as well as contacting new leads.
However, don’t forget to reach out to existing colleagues and clients too. Taking the time to check in and maintaining existing relationships is just as important as forming new ones. Keeping connected is not just good from a business perspective, but it is also good for boosting morale in these tough times. You may have already done so, but hosting online meetings via Zoom and Microsoft Teams is an efficient way to stay in touch with both peers and clients.
Accountancy Age noted that effective communication should become a key focus, no matter how ‘informal’ certain platforms may seem; they even suggest using WhatsApp. At the end of the day, it’s all about making life easier during this period of uncertainty and difficulty.
In the upcoming weeks and months, we’ll be sharing more content around working from home for accountancy and finance professionals, so make sure to stay tuned to the GAAPweb blog for more updates and advice.
If you have any top tips or advice for working from home as an accountant or finance professional, we’d love for you to get in touch. Find out more by contacting email@example.com.
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