When we decided to take an extended vacation this summer — and divide my attention between work and pleasure, my goal was to work somewhere between 30 to 50 percent of the time.
That’s not to say I’d be working 10am until 2pm, and leaving the shoulders to pleasure (or vice versa). Given my circadian rhythm and generally accepted lousy sleep habits, it’s more likely that I would awaken around 5am, work for four hours or so, then hang with the family for the day. By evening, I’d be back on the PC as everyone else settled into reading the library of books we brought along, or watching a little cable TV or DVDs.
The tally of my output, if measured by dollars, was pretty close to on-target. I ended up billing about 35% of what I otherwise would bill during a normal three-week period. So I didn’t scuttle my ship, as was my most pressing concern. And I was able to keep my billable house in order.
But what else did I learn about remote finances…?
One issue related to finances that was problematic, though, had to do with those clients who didn’t offer direct deposit. I came home to five figures in collections that were waiting for me to fetch them from the mail and deposit them into my business account.
One client mailed a check directly to my admin (read: My Mother-In-Law), who promptly deposited the check into my business account. Other clients were somewhat unresponsive to my calls for them to mail the checks to Bev, or totally unattentive to my needs. While my bankbook and balance didn’t go into a tailspin as a result, it did point out the importance of online banking, online billpay, and the use of bona fide admins or virtual assistants to help during times of need.
While I’m not inclined to hire an admin for much of my administrivia, I will do one of two things next time we depart on an extended break (regardless of whether it’s a workation or a vacation). I will:
1. Hire an admin / virtual assistant to handle the details and alleviate my financial worries. Check comes in. Trusted admin endorses it with my corporate stamp, and promptly deposits it into my account. OR
2. Arrange direct deposit with more of my vendors. It’s not rocket science, and many offer it for their W-2 employees. The problem when dealing with contractors is that paying us via DD is an extra step that requires more than approving a standard payroll ledger that doesn’t change from month to month. This month, I billed one client for whom I write columns and misc. editorial features $1,000; last month, it was closer to $2,000. If you’re an AP manager at a company that works with contractors, handling that kind of data entry on a month-to-month basis for each contractor might well send shimmies down your No. 2.
If the point of Home Office Highway was to gently weave work into a family vacation, I think I was successful. I couldn’t reasonably take three weeks off work, but I could be on the road for three weeks or longer — as long as I could work a bit and keep some income flowing in.
Handling the financials, though, will take more fine tuning.
Option Three might be to hire Bev (mother of my wife, doting grandmother to her beautiful and loving offsprint) to receive all my mail, then open and deposit the checks. While you’re at it, Mom, would you please toss the junk (bills, too). Might as well handle the whole job..