Do you let your employees work from home?
If so, how are you finding that? what are some key benefits/issues that you have noticed?
Our business uses a mix of office staff, onsite staff at client locations, and offsite bookkeepers who work part-time from home. This has been a productive model over the past 5+ years.
There are pros and cons to each approach. Our favoured approach is onsite engagements where our bookkeepers work directly with the client in their office. Many of our bookkeepers are part-time, and this provides opportunity for them to develop rapport and relationship with the client. It also tends to be more efficient in terms of gathering paperwork, getting answers to queries, resolving any issues, and dealing with any complexities, management approvals, etc...
However, there are situations where it is more appropriate for a bookkeeper to work from home. One example of this is where the client is a small business (e.g. a tradesman) and is frequently out with their own clients, so there is negligible value in working 'onsite'. Another factor is often that there is limited space or only one computer - working from home avoids the situation where the bookkeeper is inconveniencing the business owner by needing to use their computer and/or desk.
The biggest issue, however, when staff don't work in our own office, is building the relationship with our own staff. Often, bookkeepers can become closer to their clients than to their own manager/boss/colleagues. We try to balance this a little through regular catchups, team events, training at our office, and other opportunities to connect.
We've also, in the past, used less skilled staff for specific tasks, and felt that we needed to monitor them more closely. There are some great software tools available these days that allow us to see and even capture at regular intervals the screen of our staff member. This provides us with the capability to assess their efficiency, assist them with matters they find challenging, answer technical queries, etc...
Overall, we see working from home as a valuable and viable component of a distributed business model.