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By Rick Telberg
For the Finance Executive
Mark Hodell, director of audit and management services at a manufacturer of furniture and electronic assemblies in Jasper, Ind., spends up to 10 hours a week working from outside his company's offices. And he's quite pleased that he can.
Like many other accountants working in business and industry, Hodell rates the ability to work out of the office as an important ingredient in a achieving both a successful career and happy home life. He relies on a smartphone-the souped-up, e-mail-equipped version of the no-frills traditional cellphone-to increase his personal productivity, improve communication with colleagues, and balance his work life and personal life. He says it "allows more flexibility in your life."
Still, Hodell struggles with boundaries in this infinitely wireless age. "With these devices comes the expectation that you are always available without a division between work and your personal life," he noted in a Bay Street Group study of the mobile workforce in the accounting profession.
The Bay Street Group study found that while professionals in business and industry spend slightly less time working outside their offices than public practitioners, business and industry CPAs expect more from their devices and service providers.
But finance and accounting professionals are battling just as hard to find the right balance between being always accessible and having some healthy downtime.
"If you have such a device, you are expected to always be â€˜on,'" said Louise Gold, a vice president with a high-technology company in Los Angeles. She'd like to "change expectations about work/home hours."
Business calls at home must be fairly common for Drew Godson, director of cost management for a truck manufacturer in Guelph, Ontario, whose mobile workforce wish is to "reduce tension in the household when a business issue does arise."
To be sure, corporate accountants had plenty of other complaints about the out-of-office work experience.
High percentages of accountants from both sides of the profession complained about their phone companies' dropped calls. Typical of the business and industry sentiment, one middle manager noted that he's just waiting for his cell phone contract to expire in order to replace the service.
Accountants, like many professionals these days, are just learning the advantages of these new technologies. And, with the new technologies, some new social customs and boundaries need to be developed too. Or you can just ignore the boss's phone calls every once in a while and blame the phone company.
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Copyright Â© 2008 CPA Trendlines/BSG LLC. All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission. First published by the AICPA.