Virtual Offices Can Help You Juggle Work and Personal DemandsMENLO PARK, CA—What's stressing out everyone at the office? What else? Work. According to a new Accountemps survey, 41 percent of CFOs are trying to balance work and personal responsibilities—and they cite that as the greatest source of workplace stress for accounting and finance pros. Office politics came in a close second with a 28 percent vote.
"Work/life balance may seem like an issue for individuals, but it also should be a concern for businesses," said Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps and author of Human Resources Kit For Dummies 2nd edition. “Whether it's through flexible work schedules, telecommuting arrangements or other options, companies can benefit from helping their teams balance professional and personal objectives. Organizations that commit to these efforts enhance morale and productivity and make their businesses more appealing places to work."
As usual, Messmer hit the nails on the head. Virtual offices can help financial professionals solve both these issues, as well as a third challenge identified in the survey: the challenging commute. Virtual office technologies enable flexible work schedules, telecommuting and other alternative workplace strategies.
Messmer also offers some additional practical advice that’s worth noting. Beyond understanding the benefits of working from a virtual office, here are five things every employee should know. (My comments are in parentheses.)
1. Your employer's priorities: Knowing which initiatives are most critical to the firm's success will help you prioritize your responsibilities. Proper workload management will increase your productivity and make it easier to accommodate personal demands as they arise. (Working from a virtual office can also drive up your productivity by helping you stay focused and even avoid much of the office politics.)
2. What your company offers: Familiarize yourself with alternate work arrangements or other benefits your employer may provide. For example, can you telecommute or adopt a more flexible schedule? When approaching your manager about adding these offerings, present a business case that also details how the firm will benefit from giving employees more flexibility in when and how work gets done. (There are many studies on how virtual offices and flexible work benefit employers and employees. Go in armed with that information. You can find a lot of it on this blog!)
3. How to say no: Realize that no one can accomplish everything. If you can't take on a new project, let your manager know. Explain the situation, and, if needed, offer to shift some of your responsibilities to accommodate the new request. Your boss would rather know up front than see a project fall through the cracks. (Suggest that you may be more productive working at home one day a week from a virtual office.)
4. Your calendar: It may not work every time, but try to block out your schedule when you need to attend to personal activities or errands, and let your manager know in advance. That way, you'll have the time already built into your day.
5. How to unplug: As much as possible, set aside times when you can cut the tether with the office. Try to avoid checking work email and list an alternate contact in your out-of-office message.