How An Expense Management Solution Supports Remote Working

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Since March 2020, businesses everywhere have been facing new challenges. From controlling costs to ensuring that teams can work comfortably in very different conditions, it has been difficult for companies to navigate.

Before getting into the details of home working setups and to leverage maximum benefits from the situation, managers should first establish the following.

Clear expectations

Remote workers, by definition, will have less contact with their colleagues and management that in-person employees. This fact comes with both pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Fewer interruptions from colleagues "popping in" or noisy printers coming to life making for more focused and productive employees.
  • Increased comfort - with people only getting onto the occasional Zoom or Teams call, they can choose comfort with regards to their working environment and wardrobe.
  • Shorter/no commutes mean more time for both work and family, helping with a balanced, healthy lifestyle.

Cons:

  • Those "interruptions" can sometimes help resolve relevant work issues which doesn't happen as much when people are remote.
  • "Out of sight, out of mind" means that people working remote may be passed over for projects or promotions, simply because they aren't on management's mind when making decisions.
  • Remote employees may miss out on in-person events or perks (free breakfast, team building activities, etc.), negatively affecting morale.

The 2020 Global Work From Home Experience Survey from Global Workplace Analytics & Iometrics found that 82% of U.S. employees want to work from home at least some of the time, even once the pandemic is over.

Employers will need to be flexible with regards to remote working for positions that allow it going forward. But to make that work, expectations need to be clear on both sides. Managers need to communicate expectations and timelines clearly, respectfully, and preferably attach some performance metrics to those expectations.

Of course, clear and respectful communication goes both ways, and it is up to employees to speak up in time if they see that a task isn't going to be feasible or done on time.

By clearly communicating expectations, you are setting yourself up for success both with in-person and remote employees, but it is especially important for the latter.

Open communication

As highlighted above, clear, open communication is paramount in any work setting, even more so with remote workers.

Companies working with remote or hybrid (in-person & remote) employees need to ensure that they have the adequate tools to facilitate communication. Whether that's Slack, Zoom, Teams, something else or a combination, research your communication tools and train people to use them adequately.

Also important is to ensure that all employees have the necessary access to all tools and channels. With remote employees, it's easy to forget mentioning a tool or important Slack channel, only for them to discover it missing months down the line. Outside of an office setting, there is no one to notice this at a glance making these oversights harder to catch.

Acknowledge the changes

People's home working environments vary greatly. And while reliable employers will want to ensure their staff have everything they need to do their jobs, these needs can differ. Which is why it's important to acknowledge the changes people have gone through and give them some control over their home working requirements.

There are several ways in which organisations can ensure their employees are as comfortable and productive as possible whilst working from home.

Some examples include:

  • Leveraging expense policies to allow the purchase of equipment such as a headset or laptop stand.
  • Setting spend limits and merchant category restrictions. This will ensure that purchases fall within the corporate expense policy and can easily be tracked.
  • Adapting travel policies to ensure safe employee travel.
  • Allowing employees who remain remote to expense their mobile phone or internet subscriptions.

And for businesses providing essential services whose employees cannot work from home, an extra show of empathy and added flexibility can go a long way in reducing stress.

Nothing will ever make a crowded dinner table feel like a comfortable office. But these simple measures can help ensure that both employees and organisation get the most out of new arrangements.

Workplace flexibility is not going anywhere, and more and more people are prepared to changes jobs for more of it. Therefore it's important to make working from home as carefree and productive as possible.

Added benefits of remote working

Aside from the obvious "less office space needed", remote working offers additional benefits to companies.

When opening your applications to remote workers, you are widening the pool of talent from which to pick your next employees. This means you get more applicants who may be more qualified and previously wouldn't have been eligible based on geography. It also helps build a more diverse culture within your organisation which is great in terms of representation. But also: different people think differently, and by having a more diverse team, you get to reap the benefits of that!

Remote working also provides companies with built-in agility. Moving offices, sheltering in place during a pandemic, enacting big corporate changes all become much easier with a remote team. And the reduced cost is definitely a bonus, too.

Finally, remote workers tend to take fewer leaves of absence for burnout and stress or even benign illnesses. People who wouldn't have come to work at all to avoid spreading an infection may still do a few hours of work from home. And for those who suffered the pressures of "performative presenteeism", that pressure is gone meaning fewer infections spreading around your workplace. All this leads to healthier, happier staff, and lower turnover.

Whether your staff are fully back in the office, fully remote or operating on a hybrid model, make sure you listen to their needs and follow governmental recommendations regarding health and safety. And let’s not forget to be kind to one another!

Posted on 29 Mar 2021