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Working remotely: How do you draw the line between work and home?

Practice Management Drawing the line between work and home

Whether you’ve worked remotely for quite a long time or doing it temporarily, figuring out how to separate your work life from your home life can be challenging. You may find yourself juggling your schedule around your family’s activities, answering client calls after hours and even skipping meals.

We asked our Intuit® Tax Pro Center authors for their advice and guidance – here’s what they had to say.

Marc Berger, CPA LegalZoom

Although the line between work and home is blurred, we are thankful to be able to continue servicing our clients while simultaneously caring for our families. We all still need to get as much work done as possible, but we also realize some staffers might need to make lunch for hungry little people or help a middle schooler with a Google Classroom assignment. All of us can answer a call from a fellow team member while cooking dinner to answer a quick question, or even finish a project after the kids go to bed.

Nayo Carter-Gray, EA1st Step Accounting

Working full time from home has made it difficult to flip the on-sign off, so one thing I’m doing now is to eat my three main meals at the dining room table instead of at my desk. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in work; physically leaving my desk and sitting in an entirely different spot in my home allows me to decompress, even if it’s only for 15 minutes.

Diana Crawford, CPACrawford, Merritt and Company

Keep a set schedule, and if I’m in my office, my clients know I’m working.

Renee Daggett, EAAdminBooks

Working from home is not as easy as it looks! For me, I do the following:

  • Plan out my work week by meeting with my team on Monday, meeting with clients on Tuesday and Thursday, doing work on Wednesday, and catching up on Friday.
  • Use Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner to plan out my day and get things checked off my to-do list.
  • Have a dedicated space in my home to work and I close the door. I don’t do personal activities in the office; Netflix watching is done in my family room!
  • Turn off my business brain by not looking at work email after 6 p.m.

Howard M. Goodman, CPA

For me, the line between work and home is drawn in space and time. I try not to do any work outside of my home office except for an occasional “field trip” to the kitchen table because there’s more light there and it feels a little less confined. That means no work in the bedroom and no work while watching TV. In addition, after a certain hour in the evening, I try to leave work behind to exercise, spend quality time with my wife, and keep in touch with family and friends.

Cassidy Jakovickas, CPAMBS Accountancy

To stay productive while working from home, I focus on sticking to a schedule. This means that I only check social media at certain times, for example, instead of throughout the day. I also schedule specific times for checking my inbox and making calls. Having a schedule helps me also plan for personal errands and tasks while staying on top of work to-dos.

Fredric D. Leffler, CPA, MBA

Having a home office I use exclusively for business makes going to work while sheltered at home seamless. The greatest challenge is working for clients who are still using paper. To meet their needs, I need to arrange for pickup and drop off of paper files. I am hoping this experience will encourage greater reliance on electronic file systems and cloud storage.

Jackie Meyer, CPA, CTC, CTSMeyer Tax, The Concierge CPA

When my home office door is closed and the curtains are down – making sure the family cannot see in – I am not to be disturbed. I also disable automatic email updates on my iPhone, so I have to intentionally go into my Gmail app to see new email. Otherwise, I’d constantly get pinged, and it is overwhelming.

Karen Mitchell, CPAOnlineAccounting

Achieving balance boils down to hiring the right people, putting them in positions they are skilled at and passionate about, tracking and checking profitability by project/client/employee, and letting them be! We use TSheets by QuickBooks® to track time spent on each project, so if any of the work from our remote team were ever to come into question, it would be easy to quickly see the issues.

Bhairavi A. Parikh, CPAAnalytix Business Solutions, LLC

A remote working lifestyle has not only become the latest trend, but also a necessity considering the global climate and economic condition. While both are equally important, without proper planning, work from home can easily interfere in your personal life. Here are my tips:

  • Stick to the routine. Maintain the normal schedule, and make a habit of scheduling personal and family time on a calendar, along with your work appointments. Have a set time to log in and log off.
  • Use a separate workspace. Your home office should be fully equipped with the necessary tools and resources to prevent you from stepping outside the work area.
  • Take a break. Consider taking scheduled breaks at regular intervals. This will help you step away from the screen, meet with family, or go for lunch/coffee, and come back more focused and refreshed.

Andrea Parness, CPA, CTCA. Parness Company CPA

Many of us are now fortunate to be able to continue working, even as our regular workspaces or offices continue to be on lockdown. I believe that there are several behaviors you can practice in order to be productive at work and relaxed at home, even when those locations are under one roof:

  • Create and follow a schedule just as if you were at your regular office. If you would normally create a to-do list, follow the practice of time blocking, or have a daily routine/work schedule. I recommend starting your day taking care of “you” – whatever that looks like; for me that’s a workout in my home gym or a walk/run on the beach. My positive attitude stays with me as I enter my office space and carries me through even the busiest day.
  • Create and use specific spaces or locations for work and daily living. Set up a really great office space in a separate room or out-of-the-way area of your home. Equip it with a comfortable chair, suitable table or desk, and computer equipment and peripherals, as well as other work necessities.
  • Leave your work at work. At the end of your scheduled work day, leave! I know it’s tempting to check emails as you watch your favorite series on your laptop, but if you are sitting in your personal living area, make sure you are in that mindset as well.
  • Check the display on your cell phone to screen work calls that “slip” through during your down time.

Editor’s note: Visit the Intuit Accountant and Tax Professional COVID-19 Resource Center for information and tools to help you and your clients navigate these challenging times. This article originally published on April 10, 2020, and was updated with additional content on April 21, 2020, and on March 26, 2021.