Did Your 2020 New Year’s Resolution Include Spending More Time at Home?

Is the New Normal Social Distancing and Working Remotely?

Insight from Stuart Pasternak, Toronto Regional Director, CFO Leadership Council

Clearly, 2020 has become a game-changer, affecting us socially and how we work.  To reduce the spread of COVID-19 illness, most have been encouraged to follow good hygiene practices, stay home and minimize contact with other people. So, working remotely has become the new norm.

Stuart Pasternak

“While many of us started working from home out of urgency, we may not have considered all the issues implementing remote-working strategy.”
~ Stuart Pasternak, Toronto Regional Director, CFOLC

There are several advantages to working from home:
  • Saves time and the cost of transportation, including costs associated with car ownership, maintenance, and insurance
  • Improves work-life balance. In most cases, as long as workers can complete their work, they can set their schedules
  • Employees who have children to care for can personally without incurring additional expenses that they may not be able to afford
  • It allows workers to take control of their day and set critical priorities
  • Reduce the corporate office overhead cost

Working remotely may become the new norm and launching such an initiative requires some thought and planning on behalf of the company and employee. While many of us started working from home out of urgency, we may not have considered all the issues implementing remote-working strategy.  Here are a few things to discuss with a remote-working strategy from the perspective of the company and employees:

Start A Daily Routine and Rules of Engagement

  • Plan the start of your business day similar to if you were in your office. If you started working in your corporate office at 9 AM, then do the same at home and know when to “log-off.”
  • Create a reasonable schedule for how you want your days and weeks to unfold. Don’t track hours; focus on goals and objectives. Prioritize tasks and make sure they can be accomplished in a day(s).  Tools like Microsoft To-Do (formally Wunderlist) can be beneficial to keep track of your to-do’s and your staff. Your schedule should also make time for breaks, a walk, exercise and lunch.
  • Set up recurring meetings with your staff to ensure everything is progressing as planned and they are managing stress. Use this time to socialize and ensure they have the tools they need to get their work done. It also helps employees to set a rhythm and determine a clear schedule between home and work time.
  • Use collaborative software to complete tasks with co-workers such as Slack, Trello, Asana.
  • Don’t forget to be time flexible. Some employees may have to deal with issues such as their children, try to make accommodations.

How to Build A Productive Remote Workplace

  • Set up a communication tool to stay in contact other than your cell phones, such as Zoom, Teams, Skype, or Slack. Ensure you have the use of a good video camera, microphone and headset.
  • Have a designated workspace with the necessary supplies to work effectively, including a functional desk, comfortable chair, keyboard, laptop, second computer screen, printer, lighting etc.
  • Schedule your day for work and personal requirements. Consider setting aside break times to handle personal activities during the day

Protecting Company Data While Working Remotely 

To the extent that remote work requires access to the company’s private network, added precautions must be taken. Access to sensitive data and private information are at risk – cybersecurity is critical. The company should:

  • Provide hardware such as laptops to conduct business activities. Record serial numbers and keep track of what devices have been loaned to each employee.
  • Restrict access to critical software via a secure access (VPN, portals).
  • Follow best data security, including using headphones to keep conversations private and ensure printed documents are stored, shredded or disposed of securely.
  • Establish how and where data is to be stored for future and shared use.

Use a Remote Agreement 

Documentation of the responsibility for working remotely sets the terms of use. Such an agreement should address the following:

  • Physical location of the workspace
  • How to communicate and work schedule requirements
  • How company assets are to be used and stored
  • How travel and business-related expenses are to be handled. This should also address who is responsible for home repair and related costs
  • Insurance – whose insurance is covering remote company information
  • Workplace safety and reporting of injuries requirements
  • Who owns the work product and return of such assets should termination of employment occur

Final Thought

Working remotely may make some feel left out, limited and lonely.  Consider Company-wide “Quarantini” meetings using video conferencing to discuss anything not work-related while enjoying a glass of wine, beer or other popular drink.

Related Articles

Employee Engagement and Training of Accounting Teams During COVID-19
March 26, 2020

CFOLC Update on Coronavirus 
March 12th, 2020

What Do CEOs Want From Their CFOS ~ Jack McCullough’s Latest for Forbes CFO Network  
March 2nd, 2020

Upcoming Webcasts 

How to be a Sophisticated Consumer: A CFO’s Guide to IP Legal Services 
April 22nd, 2020 | 1pm ET

The Power of 80/20: Vaporize Your Manual Expense Efforts 
April 23rd, 2020 1pm ET


About The CFO Leadership Council
The CFO Leadership Council offers both live & online programs that feature expert panels and interactive sessions that drive meaningful conversation and leadership development among our membership. Our collection of leadership development resources similar to this article contain pragmatic insights and advice sourced directly from our members and industry experts.  Recordings of CFOLC webcasts are made available to our current CFOLC Premium & Virtual members. CPEs are now offered for our webcasts to current CFOLC members only.  To learn about our membership and connecting with our growing CFOLC community, visit www.cfolc.com.

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