If you’re typically an office worker and you’re venturing into the work from home space for the first time, the transition can take a toll on your productivity. If you don’t establish a good working environment at home, it can be difficult to get in the right mindset like you would in the office. Once you have your remote work infrastructure up and running for collections, it’s time to set up a dedicated workspace.
Top 5 Tips for Creating a Productive Accounts Receivable Work-from-Home Environment
Some of our customers have been on a remote work model for years and over the last year so have we. We gathered up some of the best tips from customers and our team on creating a productive work-from-home environment. Here were the top five.
Create a Quiet, Dedicated Workspace
It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking, “If I get to work from home, I can work from the comfort of my couch!”. Often times, doing this will be your first step into lowering productivity. Once you’re on the couch, you’ll be tempted to turn on TV or check social media more often. When you’re fielding calls from customers or trying to collect on unpaid accounts, multi-tasking in this way can be detrimental to your collections productivity. Its vital to create a dedicated workspace that is separate from the areas of your home where you relax and gather with family.
If you have a free room to set up a desk and chair, that’s a great place to start. However, if you don’t have that type of extra space, get creative. Consider hanging up a curtain that separates your workspace from the rest of your home to give it a more dedicated feel. When the curtain is closed, this signals you to get to work!
Create a Transition Ritual
You may have heard people saying that remote workers never get out of their pajamas. Although some may not, we don’t recommend staying in pajamas all day. Just the process of getting dressed in your work clothes every morning signals to your brain “time to start the day!”. Maybe you want to stay in your pajamas, but you put on a work hat that says time to go. One employee at Lockstep shares that they make sure to get a shower first thing to start the day. This morning ritual helps the body wake up and your mind transition to tackle the day. As tempting as it might be to just stay in your pajamas, it could slow your transition into a productive day.
Create Boundaries for Family Members (and Pets)
Collections work can often involve detailed conversations on the phone with customers. When you’re working from home, customer might get distracted and miss critical information with children running around the house or dogs barking in the background. It’s important to take a moment to discuss with your family, partner, or roommates what working from home means and that you need dedicated time to work. One suggestion, if you have an office or room you’re working in, is that when your door is closed, this means you’re on the phone and unavailable to family members. Another idea is to use the stoplight method. Hang up a red piece of paper when you can’t be disturbed, yellow for when your kids should check first and green when it’s OK to stop in and chat. Young kids recognize and understand this concept easily.
For pets, it’s not as easy to explain the concept of working from home. Try using a baby gate to keep them out of your working zone during hours you’ll be on the phone. You can settle your pet into a routine by establishing good times to take a walk or pet. Help them transition into the new pattern of when you can play with them. If you have access to a doggy day care center, consider dropping them off for a few hours of socialization.
Identify Your Working Hours
Just because you’re working from home, doesn’t mean you should make your own hours, especially in collections. Your customers still have working hours they need to abide by and expect to be able to get a hold of you during normal work times. If you’re trying to work your way through your call list to collect from customers, you’re not going to have much success out of normal working hours. If your company’s office hours are 9-5, stick with that even when you’re working from home.
Create a break schedule for yourself. It’s great to be productive and get a lot done every day, but it’s also important to take care of your mental health. Take breaks, like ensuring you stop every day at noon to have an hour lunch break. Carve out 10 minutes in the morning to do yoga or meditation. Put these breaks on your calendar so you abide by them, and your co-workers respect your break time too.
Just because you’re moving to remote work, doesn’t mean accounts receivable productivity can decrease. Since majority of collections activities include phone calls, it’s vital to have a quiet, dedicated workspace and boundaries set with family, friends and pets to keep your workspace free of distraction.
In our next article on mastering collections in a remote work environment, we’ll share our best practices for creating rituals and discipline for increasing accounts receivable productivity at home.