Working Remotely: Perks & Pitfalls

6/14/2017 - By Dede Nolan CFSA, CAFP

So you want to work remotely?  Being able to work from home, out of the office, or off the job site sounds like a great idea, and it can be! But like anything else, it comes with unique perks and pitfalls of which you need to be aware.  Here are a few simple “Do”s and “Don’t”s to aid in your decision to work remotely and help you become successful at it.


1. Plan Ahead – Do you have everything you need to work remotely?  Ask yourself, “Do I have the equipment, workspace, resource materials and most importantly FOCUS, to work remotely?”

2. Know Your Client – What are their expectations? What is their communication style, and who is my liaison? Will I be able to meet their needs remotely?

3. Provide Detailed Instructions – Let your client know upfront what you need and when you need it.  If necessary, be prepared to provide examples for clarification.  

I learned this the hard way, so it probably tops my list of “Do”s.  Pretty quickly, I discovered that the names I was using to request documents and reports were known to my clients as something completely different.  Just as my Ford Escape can be called a car, automobile or vehicle, the same thing holds true in the business world. To resolve this issue, I began giving a short description of what the document was, especially if I was working with new customers.  

4. Communicate Your Progress – Your client is paying for your services.  Be sure to let them know what’s working, what’s not working, and if the job timeline is on schedule.


1. Bombard the Client – Avoid constant e-mails and phone calls. Be considerate and agree ahead of time on a schedule that works for both you so that you can ask questions and have discussions.

2. Become Distracted – It’s easy to do when you are not in a formal office setting.  Be sure to set up an appropriate work environment and routine.  

I was guilty of this one.  When I first started working remotely, I set up my workstation on the dining room table.  I found myself looking around and thinking of things I wanted to get done around the house.  I could start a load of laundry, think of what would be good for dinner or vacuum up the dog fur that falls incessantly from my black lab.  It just didn’t work.  I needed more of an office environment.  I started working in the spare bedroom, turned on some quiet background music and knew immediately this was a much better scenario for me.

3. Lose Your Sense of Urgency – Just because you’re not in a formal setting does not mean you can be any less attentive to the client than you would be while performing an on-site assignment.

4. Get Discouraged – Your first attempt may not go smoothly.  Throughout your assignment, you will discover things you wished you would have done differently.  Simply write them down and make the necessary adjustments next time.

These “Do”s and “Don’t”s are generic principles to keep in mind as you develop your own personal preferences and customize how you work remotely. No matter what works for you, make sure it works! Whether working in office or remotely, the goal is to always accomplish the job on time, perform the job well, and give great client service.

About the Author | Dede Nolan CFSA, CAFP

Dede is a Certified Financial Services Auditor and has been an important member of the consulting team in Saltmarsh’s Financial Institutions Advisory Group since 1989. She has worked extensively with our financial institution clients, providing Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), BSA model data validation, deposit compliance, trust internal audits, and other consulting services.

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