Remote bookkeeping – how does this work?

The other day a potential client rang me and said she was looking at our website and wanted to know how remote bookkeeping worked and, more importantly, how it could work for her and her business. I was a little surprised by her questions because I’ve been working remotely or “telecommuting” as it’s known, for years now as have many others. I went on to explain how I work and how my clients work with me but I got the feeling that she wasn’t entirely convinced. It made me think that there are probably others out there who don’t quite understand how bookkeeping can be done remotely so I thought I’d write a blog that would help to explain how it all works in my business.

Working remotely – what is it?

Firstly, let me explain the concept of working remotely or telecommuting. Basically a remote worker doesn’t go to one physical office or workplace each day. This type of worker is nomadic in nature and is able to work in any location whether this be at home, a coffee shop, the beach, on a plane, on holidays etc. Typically, a remote worker leverages the convenience of the internet to enable him to complete work tasks.

Why do I work remotely?

I have worked remotely for over ten years now. Generally I work from my home office but sometimes I visit a coffee shop, a library, go to the beach etc. just for a change of scenery. I decided to work in this way because of family pressures. I have a disabled son and this precludes me from being able to work away from home due to the care he requires. Being a telecommuter allows me to run a business and attend to the needs of my family, the latter being most important to me.

Remote bookkeeping – degrees of remoteness

My clients are based locally, in Melbourne and Interstate. Of course Interstate clients are forced to work remotely with me due to their location. However, I also work remotely with my Melbourne-based client and my local clients. I do this because of my family situation and in fact, I insist on it. So even though clients may be based nearby, I still work with them in the same way as I would work with clients who are miles away – location is insignificant in terms of remote bookkeeping.

So how does the work get done when I’m not actually working with the clients on site?

The answer is I leverage the internet and various applications (apps) that allow me to work from home (or wherever). The internet has given me the freedom to be able to work remotely and still remain at home to care for my son. For me, it’s been like the Holy Grail in terms of achieving the perfect working scenario and I am very thankful for it. The internet allows me to remotely share documents with clients, work on their accounting files and have virtual meetings with them all from the comfort of my home office. As mentioned above, I use browser-based apps to help me do this. The apps I use are mentioned below:

For document sharing and delivery:
● Our own document-sharing facility via our website
Google Drive
● Australia Post (not an app obviously, but some clients prefer to send hard copy documents via snail mail rather than electronic ones)

To work remotely on accounting files:
● Cloud software Xero, Saasu, MYOB, QuickBooks Online, Reckon One
● Log into client’s computer remotely to access their file
● Desktop files shared via Dropbox or Google Drive
● Desktop files uploaded to our document-sharing facility

To have virtual meetings:
Google Hangouts
● Telephone calls

General administration:
Teamwork to organise our workflow and communicate with clients securely
Google Apps for document writing, spreadsheets, presentations and form creation
Adobe Acrobat for creating and editing PDF files
Adobe Echosign for electronic signing of documents
● Gmail for communicating with clients and storing important emails as needed
Google Calendar for saving client meeting dates and assisting me with general week-to-week workflow organisation

So that’s how I work remotely with my clients – just me, the internet and a whole bunch of very useful apps (and in some cases, Australia Post!). In general this works really well with the only potential issue being if the internet becomes unavailable, which happens very rarely thankfully. I hope this blog has clarified how remote bookkeeping works in my business. As I said at the beginning I was surprised when the lady who called me was questioning this concept – I thought everyone knew about teleworking but apparently not! I suppose it’s not for everyone but I have had great success with it and thanks to the internet, have been able to build a business that reaches clients Australia-wide all from the comfort of my beach-side home office – bliss! My son thinks it’s pretty good too 😉


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