Going Next Level (2) in the Accounts

This is an article I wrote back in May but never published at the time. Now that we are back in ‘level’ management with Covid-19 it is a good time to review the learnings from 2020 so far:

There was a lot of discussion and some good information covering how to ‘school’ in Level 2 earlier in the year. But what about the accounts office staff? How did you all fare working from home and what was the plan for transitioning to onsite work again?

In a previous article we highlighted the benefits of working remotely. Good technology, connectivity and a separate workspace at home were key elements of being successful. If you didn’t have children at home, you may have found yourself getting way more work done in a shorter amount of time without all those office interruptions that are inevitable at school!

Thinking time…
Some of you love those interuptions as they represent people whom it is most healthy to connect with. People you can help and people who help you.
But hopefully most of you got to realise there was a key ingredient working without all those interuptions under lockdown (or not working) and that is some degree of calm, thinking time, focus. There was a lot of problem solving to be done in a short time frame early on, but it was almost a luxury to be able to focus on ‘outside the box’ stuff and be part of the solution.

Whether you’ll be heading back to the office (next week?), are already there, or have arranged to keep working from home, I hope you are all able to maintain some more flexibility in the way you work, and schedule focus time into your day (deliberately).
May we never be the same again! May you put your heads together (not literally!) and discuss bringing some new strategies into the workplace. More efficiencies along with more thinking and planning time. And not taking collaboration or face to face contact for granted, even if it is with a mask!

So what are some of the specific things we are alluding to?

Focus Time – at least once a day you need breathing space to reprioritise, keep on top of scheduling type admin tasks that contribute to efficiency (and I don’t mean emails!), walk around the block to think about a problem that has several possible solutions, or just breathe and reset the mind to clear it from built up anxiety. It should be a full half hour, but 10 minutes is better than nothing!

If you get back to the office and find the day returns once again to the whirlwind of interuptions that used to dominate your day, something needs to change. Start jotting down the issues and when ready, go over your thoughts with a trusted colleague or friend to brainstorm some ideas. You cannot be efficient or retain good mental health with no focus time ever!

Meeting Time – the MOE have recommended onsite Staff meetings are minimised to be safer. If you have to meet onsite, fabulous, make them short! This forced measure has created the opportunity to change forever some bad meeting hygiene such as going on too long, hooray! As for online meetings, no doubt you’ll be working hard to keep these from drifting into sigh territory too. Apart from addressing technological issues, here has been an amazing opportunity to deliberately open up the floor for focused collaborative work.

Working Online – it may be time to review the programmes, software and even hardware being used to get the work done now that online needs to be the norm. Cloud storage and filing systems are crucial, accounting and reporting software needs to be accessible and efficient, authorisation processes need to be able to be performed online, email systems need to be robust and well managed, and of course security set high for all of these. There are a lot of good resources to help, along with courses and workshops offered.

Here are a few links to get you started…all from a great accounting firm.

Running effective online meetings…

Remote working: how to get ready…

The top 10 time wasters in your working week…

Also introducing email guru Debbie Mayo-Smith, an NZ motivational speaker who also runs all sorts of ‘do it better’ type webinars: check out her website for more options.

At School Accounts Ltd we offer a number of school specific workshops. Check out what is on offer this year here.

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