The concept of virtual teams is gaining traction worldwide, driven by the confluence of several trends, including greater availability of work-anywhere tools like video telepresence and collaboration platforms, employees’ desire for more control over their own lives and schedules, and employers’ need to cut costs. When handled successfully, virtual teams can be a boon to employees and employers alike.
Research from Global Workplace Analytics found that about half of U.S. jobs can be done offsite at least part of the time. The role of bookkeeper is a prime example — with the right technology, bookkeeping can be done offsite 100% of the time, with absolutely no loss of quality or accessibility. But to make it work, it’s important to find the right virtual bookkeeper.
If you’re looking for a virtual bookkeeper, you’ll need to find someone who not only has the skills you need but also a person who seamlessly integrates into your company’s culture. You’ll need to play matchmaker between your virtual candidate and your company, looking for qualities that will make the relationship thrive. Here are five tips to help you find the right virtual bookkeeper:
Look for the ideal mix of experience and skills: It’s a good idea to find bookkeepers who have several years of experience so that you won’t have to deal with a steep learning curve. Verify their accounting and software skills by administering a basic accounting test as well as a QuickBooks exam. A role-playing test that simulates real-life scenarios is also helpful in the assessment process.
Find someone with the right personal qualities: Make sure you find a person who fits in with your company culture. Are you a service-oriented organization? In that case, look for a person with a “servant’s heart,” i.e., someone who is genuinely motivated to serve others. Always keep your company’s values in mind when assessing candidates.
Look for a personality match with your personnel: A shared values system is important, but so is personal affinity, so look for virtual staff with a personality that matches your team’s character. Do your people have a great sense of humor? If so, a bookkeeper who enjoys a laugh will fit in with your team. Even with offsite team members, personality match matters — a lot.
Hire someone who will be with you for the long haul: During the interview, talk to prospective virtual employees about their plans. Does the candidate show an interest in your company’s future? Is she focused on moving up the ladder? Is he looking to provide higher level services than you are currently seeking, e.g., CPA or CFO services? Find someone who wants to be a bookkeeper long term.
Evaluate time zone and technology issues: It’s generally a good idea to choose a virtual bookkeeper who keeps the same business hours your company does. It’s also advisable to have a conversation about technology and make sure your prospective virtual employee has the gear and home office setup needed to collaborate effectively with your existing team.
Building a virtual team makes sense for employers because they can get access to the expertise they need without incurring the expense of maintaining office space and equipment. Virtual employees enjoy the flexibility of working from home, which allows them to look after small children or aging parents and avoid the expenses and hassles involved in commuting to and from work.
But successfully integrating a virtual team member into your company requires planning and an overall strategy. By following these five tips (or working with a company that specializes in matching virtual professionals with companies like yours), you can add a virtual bookkeeper who will be an asset to your company for years to come.
Lisa Zeeveld is CFO of BELAY. She joined BELAY (formerly Miles AG) in June 2011. With more than 18 years of experience in finance and accounting, Lisa has worked for several Fortune 500 companies including Arthur Andersen and Weber Shandwick. Additionally, she held her Limited Securities (Series 6) and Health and Life Insurance license. Lisa and her family reside in Canton, GA and attend the Woodstock City Church campus of North Point Community Church.