I have been remoting for many more years than I care to admit. The idea of shelter in and work from home would seem easy right? Yeah, not so much the requirement of keeping to others time was helpful in me keeping scheduled. What happens when everyone around you loosens their schedule? The first week I got very lazy. After missing a meeting, a got a handle on getting back on schedule. Then the next hurdle. My Chennai office went on lockdown two weeks after my state went on shelter in. I figured we were out of business for the duration if not forever.
My Chennai office, in the state of Tamil Nadu, went on lockdown March 24th. Supposedly until March 31. I just laughed. My team in Chennai said it should not be a problem. Last we heard they will open May 18th. I had already told them in February to start doing hourly cleaning of the office, check temperatures, send anyone showing any signs of sickness home. My trip home from Chennai in January, through Hong Kong, along with an email from one of my sisters that works in a virology lab at a major city hospital gave me a heads up something was happening by January 20th. Tamil closed down a week before the rest of India. We had less than 24 hours to basically decide what we could and could not do.
The first item was to notify all of our clients. The majority of our clients are accounting firms and app developers. They are used to us working from a secure office designed with a closed secure workroom. We have regular meetings in our conference room so that the US and Canadian clients could see and talk with the accountants performing their work. Many clients had met our staff personally when we brought them to the US at various events over the last several years. Between, Zoom, Slack, and our US visits, our relationships with our accounting and app clients were pretty strong. But this was a new issue we had to deal with. We no longer were allowed to access our Chennai office. We were effectively out of business, we thought.
Two days after notifying our clients of the dilemma one contacted us and said if you can get them set up in their homes could some do work? Ok well, that was something we had to think out. Who had the space for privacy in their home, who had strong enough bandwidth, how were we going to keep the internet access secure? Once we found the answers to those three questions, we then went back to all our clients and made them the offer. More than half of our client base was onboard.
Within 24 hours we had the individual PCs with dual monitors delivered and set up on secure Wi-Fi-dongles to access our server housed with Coaxis-ASP in their Florida location. That actually took the longest time as we disengage USB drives on the PC in our office and have the PC hardwired to our internet provider. Each user is tracked when logging in to our managed US-based server and from there they browse to the cloud systems they work on for our clients.
After two weeks of this limited type of work, a few of our clients that had us using their internal servers on specific applications had set up logins that limited where the teams could go on their server. Something that had not been done when we were working from our secure Chennai office. We also took on two new clients while on lockdown and now we had even more work.
We continue to have Zoom meetings, albeit not always with video, and like everyone else little kids may be heard in the background, but the shelter-in does not seem to concern the ladies in Chennai. They themselves use zoom and slack to keep in touch with one another and all are happy to still have work while their country is in a severe lockdown.
India will get back to working in offices again just like we will here. We are already drawing up how that will work. This is going to be a long road for all of us. Stay safe and be smart in your decisions. Realize how lucky you are if you can work remotely.
Thank you to all those clients that keep us going.
MoneyPenny LLC offers accounting solutions for accounting professionals, businesses, and individuals who are looking to outsource day-to-day accounting hassles–paying bills, balancing checkbooks, payroll preparation and filings–while providing valuable financial and tax advice to help boost profitability and growth.
Call us (307) 522-1417 for more information or fill out our contact form and let us help you with outsource accounting back office, bookkeeping, accounting software integration, and accounting software regression.
Penny Breslin is the founder of MoneyPenny, a consulting firm specializing in helping accounting firms and other businesses embrace the power of technology to simplify their operations and increase their profit margins.
Penny has been recognized by Worldwide Who’s Who for showing dedication, leadership, and excellence in providing quality consulting services to an international clientele made up of CPA firms and other businesses.
Penny holds a Master of Business Administration in Global Management and is a member of the Intuit Pro-Advisor Group, is a Xero Certified Advisor, a member of the Wave Pro Network, and a FreshBooks consultant. A firm believer in being able to work from anywhere, you’ll often find Penny running her business on the beach after a morning surf session.