The Challenges In Billing For Hours When Working From Home

The Challenges In Billing For Hours When Working From Home

Posted on 10. May, 2013 by in Career Coaching, Careers, Consulting, Employers, Featured

When you travel to a client location each week and spend 40 hours a week on site, the client sees you there; they don’t have any question as to whether or not you put in 40 hours for the week. So they do not have any problems signing off and approving the 40 hours you put on a weekly timesheet. They may have an issue with the quality of your work or whether you accomplished enough during that time, but that is a different issue.

With some clients, if they can’t see you working, they’re going to be a little more skeptical about how many hours you are actually working. When I say skeptical, I mean they are going to put in a little more scrutiny because they’re not going to know each day when you start and stop working for the day or if you take unacceptably long breaks during the day.

Because of this, if you do a significant amount of work for any client remotely, you are going to want to do a few extra things to avoid any issues down the road.

1. Get an understanding of their expectations before the engagement begins. Be clear on the hours/daily schedule they expect you to keep. Do they expect you to be working and/or available Monday through Friday from 8-5, or is there flexibility to put in your hours over the weekend, etc.

2. Communicate clearly if you have any potential conflicts with an 8-5 schedule. A specific instance comes to mind where a remote consultant needed to be available to pick up their child from school each day. Now doing so only took 15 minutes, which seems like a reasonable enough “break” in the middle of the day. However, the specific time of pick up, conflicted with a regular conference call that the manager required several consultants to participate in. In this case, it created a problem with a “flexible” remote schedule.

3. Write a weekly status report. As mentioned above, often times a client will be a bit more skeptical with hours worked when they are off site rather than at the hospital. One way, we have found that helps with this issue is to log daily work completed and tasks accomplished to accompany your weekly timesheet. This way, the client feels as though they have a visual of what you have filled your hours with throughout the week.

The common denominator with all of these… Communication! Communicate expectations up front. Discuss any issues with expectations. Give them a status report to clearly communicate work accomplished. All of this should minimize any potential issues around billing hours worked remotely.

David Kushan

David Kushan is the President of Healthcare IS and has spent the last 18 years of his career working in the Healthcare Information Technology industry assisting over 120 healthcare organizations nationwide. Visit www.HealthcareIS.com for Dave’s company blog, articles, podcasts and more.

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One Response to “The Challenges In Billing For Hours When Working From Home”

  1. Monica Carter RPh

    14. May, 2013

    It is interesting how much confidence is given to “onsite time” vs remote work. With all the portable device distractions, cubicle discussions, personal communications, managers still cling to the assumption that on site hours are 100% productive hours.

    I recently worked five years for an organization for which I supported up to 8 facilities remotely, managing the pharmacy product they deployed at each site. Since I worked for both East and West coast clients simultaneously, my home laptop was open from 7AM to 7PM weekdays to cover hours and AM checks on the weekends.
    However, my managers acknowledged that one or two mid day breaks would need to occur to accomodate those longer hours and clients knew that if an urgent issue arose, to call vs email for immediate assistance. This was my flex time.
    As David suggests, I made clear the scope of my daily, on demand, and project responsibilities to my mangers, and defined issue response expectations with my managers and my customers. Thus, the meat of the matter was on my weekly status report of accomplishments, not a timesheet.

    This lead to a successful and rewarding relationship with my clients and elimination of unnecessary travel time and expense to them. Their facilities have all now migrated off my vendor system, but some have already commented their appreciation of my responsiveness vs the new “local” IT team. ( PS- If your IT analyst’s department is a mile away, how “close ” is your customer relationship anyway? )

    Many hours based businesses, like law practices, are looking at work scope billing as an alternative to hourly billing. This, at least, removes the concerns of truth in billing issues.
    Perhaps this is in our consulting contract futures as well.

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