5 Tips For Flextime In CPA Firms
This article first appeared on the Wiley Efficient Learning blog.
A major benefit for CPAs working in public accounting is the ability to work flextime. What is flextime? While the definitions vary firm to firm, flextime can mean that you work flexible hours, have compressed work weeks or follow seasonal scheduling.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? Three and four day weekends, taking off early for kids’ soccer games, summer hours … the possibilities are endless! The reality of flextime, however, is that it takes work to set it up, keep it going, and manage your workload and career.
Here are some tips on how to create and work a successful flextime schedule.
1. Check Your Firm’s Policies
To begin, take a look at your firm’s policies regarding flextime. Consider, as well, the firm’s official (or unofficial) stance on the expected number of work hours. The firm’s idea of flextime may differ radically from yours. A quick “Google” of flextime reveals numerous sarcastic comments about “flexibly” being able to choose between working 16 hours at the client’s office, in the firm office or at home, or working half-days “noon to midnight.” If you are pioneering the firm’s first “real” flextime schedule, expect it to take longer to put in place successfully, as you will likely encounter unawareness of what is required and pushback in terms of work performance expectations.
2. Adjust Your Scheduling
After your flextime schedule has been determined, meet with the work schedulers to ensure that they are aware of your planned work hours and will schedule you accordingly. Approval of a flextime schedule from the “top” doesn’t necessarily make it through to those planning the work. Continued effort may be needed to keep work schedulers aware of your flex arrangement and to ensure that your flex hours are maintained. Advance checking is key here – you don’t want to advise the engagement partner the day before the job is due to start that you are somehow unavailable.
3. Your Workload & Clients
Keep an eye on your workload and clients. Some clients may not be suitable for a flex schedule and will need to be pared from your client list. Workload creep is an ongoing threat for several reasons, such as you feel guilty for leaving early, or you want to finish something before you leave and it ends up taking several hours. Think carefully about your flex schedule and how it can best work –in terms of team solidarity and client service. Perhaps a four-day workweek is more manageable than five short days.
4. Get Your Supervisor On Board
Have a champion in your court – you need backing from above. Your mentor/supervisor should be aware of and fully support your flex schedule. This person needs to be on the same wavelength so that you both understand why and how the schedule will work. More importantly, your “champion” must be wiling to weigh in on your behalf and protect you from “old timers” who believe face-time is the best measure of work performance. Read more on CPA Practice Advisor.