SaaS Conversations – Working Remotely for Finance Professionals

Working Remotely for finance professionals  

Last week, we had a terrific conversation with Jon Lau of InVision and Eric Lundeen from Xero about working remotely as finance professionals.

Jon’s company, InVision, has always been 100% remote, no headquarters, no rent.  Eric’s company, the SaaS accounting vendor, Xero, is a publicly listed company in New Zealand and Eric is based in Boulder, CO.  They shared their tips for succeeding with remote work, and why they prefer working remotely.  Here’s some of the tips and strategies that they follow:

Over-communicate

  • Remember that most people pick up a lot about their company from walking the hallways and kitchen conversations. Replace that by consistently updating the team about how the company is doing, latest initiatives, and upcoming projects
  • Be explicit about work policies, expected deliverables and timelines
  • Do regular, scheduled meetings, daily with the direct team, weekly with a larger group.
  • Company management needs to communicate with the whole company regularly, The InVision CEO holds an all hands online meeting once or twice a month, every month to stay in touch with the over 1200 remote employees and keep them focused on the company mission and direction.

Be a Good Manager

  • Most of us fall down in managing others, in terms of communication, in terms of support and in terms of coaching your team to deliver above their current skills. Remote work requires that you step up as a manager.  Be intentional as a manager and focus on all these things to get the best out of people.
  • Understand the personalities in your team. Some are introverts and some are extroverts.  Some require little hand holding and some require a bit more structure to deliver.  When people are remote, it can be harder to recognize the personalities and what they need from a manager, so you have to make an extra effort to understand and manage each effectively.
  • Focus on outcomes, not input. You can’t see the hours that people put in remotely, but you can see the output.  Focus on results and not if someone is answering an email immediately.  One of the benefits of working remotely is greater freedom in how people spend their time, but keep the discipline focused on outcomes.
  • Make sure everyone understands the hand-off from one person to another in Finance processes, whether it is the monthly close, finalizing reports or whatever the process, spell it out.  When people work together in an office, some of those things happen automatically and can get dropped remotely.

Remote Office Equipment and Expenses

  • InVision issues a standard remote office “kit” of a headset, plus computer screens depending on department – Finance gets either two large screens, or one super large one. In addition, new employees get a $500 stipend to spend on outfitting their remote office.  Employees also get a monthly “café” card to spend $50 going out of the house to work in a café or somewhere with other people.
  • Xero handles remote equipment requirements on a case-by-case basis. If someone doesn’t have a decent chair or computer screen, the company will take care of it.  They don’t have a set budget per person for remote work.
  • In the webinar polling of participants, 82% provide under $500/person for remote work upfront, and 18% provide between $500-$1000 per person. 35% of those polled said they provided additional recurring expense to remote employees, and 65% did not.

Communication and Information Sharing Platforms

  • In the webinar polling of participants, 67% use Slack – no surprise there. 20% use Microsoft Teams and in addition, 20% use Jabbar and 20% also use Google Hangouts (participants could select more than one platform).

Conclusions about Working Remotely for Finance Professionals

Both Jon and Eric love working remotely.  They both felt that it made them more productive, better managers and team workers, and provided them with the flexibility to have good work/life balance while being successful in their Finance careers.  We heard the phrase “being intentional” a lot during the conversation – it’s a good take-away from the discussion. To watch this webinar on demand, click here.

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