Creating T&E Policies That Work For Remote Employees
It has been a long road of recovery since the pandemic disrupted the fundamental core of how businesses operate.
During this time, mindsets and perceptions shifted, with many now considering WFH not just a temporary solution but a worthy alternative to traditional on-site work to the extent that numerous job hunters are now considering remote work as one of the top three criteria when pursuing new opportunities.
This illustrates just how far we have come to embrace remote and hybrid work as the new normal.
While the innovative, collaborative tools available today undeniably provide communicative, productive, and collaborative opportunities for remote and non-remote employees alike; businesses are still facing significant challenges in creating T&E policies that effectively manage the expenses of their remote employees.
This article will cover the following:
- Why have a remote employee expense policy?
- Challenges of T&E for remote employees
- Things to keep in mind when devising your remote employee T&E policies
- Implement remote employee T&E policy with Tripeur
In this article, we will discuss these challenges to help businesses create more streamlined T&E policies that work for remote employees just as well as they do for those working on-site.
Without further ado, let us explore why you need streamlined remote employee expense policies, the challenges you must address, and how to create T&E policies that drive better expense management, compliance, and reimbursements for your remote employees.
Why Have A Remote Employee Expense Policy?
Businesses without a comprehensive remote employee expense policy may find it challenging to manage and control their remote employee’s travel expenses. Many companies who suffer from this find that it causes confusion, overspending, reduced morale, and an overall lack of accountability, especially when they have a substantial number of remote employees.
Additionally, there is a good chance you will also continue to experience a disparity between how you handle the expenses of your remote and on-site employees, which can lead to inequality, legal disputes, non-compliance, inflated costs, reimbursement inaccuracies, fraud, and numerous other issues.
On the other hand, an excellent remote employee expense policy will be instrumental in clearly and effectively delivering the corporate travel policies to your remote employees. It provides a much-needed framework for remote employees to understand their expense policy coverage, how to submit expenses, and what the approval process entails.
A remote employee expense policy will also provide expense controls that will enable you to cut costs, prevent fraud, and create an impartial and consistent process for smoother expense reimbursement.
Developing and implementing one can demonstrate that your organization is deeply committed to providing a fair, transparent, and safe environment for both remote and non-remote employees, boosting their morale, motivation, job satisfaction, and performance.
It also promotes fairness and consistent travel reimbursements for remote employees. The right policies also ensure that employees aren’t burdened with repetitive and frustrating redundant practices, enabling them to focus more on their organizational duties and goals efficiently and responsibly without their geological location being a hindrance.
Challenges of T&E For Remote Employees
Before we dive into how to create the ideal T&E policy, let us look at some of the significant T&E challenges facing remote employees:
1. Remote Work Will Impact T&E Spending Behavior
Understanding that some level of remote work will remain over the upcoming years is the first step toward creating an equitable environment for your remote employees. As employees continue to work remotely, businesses can expect changes in their T&E spending behaviors that, without proper management, may increase the likelihood of travel violations and financial losses.
Addressing such challenges will require the development of effective T&E policies that consider the unique needs of remote employees and their expenses, travel-related or otherwise. Failing to address these challenges may lead to substantial difficulty in managing and controlling the costs of remote employees, leading to an adverse impact on the business’s bottom line.
2. Failing to Understand the Impact of Remote Work
According to projections, as hybrid work environments continue to grow, so will the risk of expense fraud over the upcoming years. This occurs when remote work blurs the lines between the remote employee’s personal and work life.
Such instances make it challenging to manage remote employee T&E well enough to differentiate between compliant costs and those that are not.
Remember, your remote employees have different requirements than the average on-site staffer. For instance, when a remote employee needs to set up a home office, they must purchase computers, internet, phones, and other devices, often on the company’s dime. Sometimes, remote employees may include unnecessary non-compliant items to these expenses in the guise of essential work requirements.
When such employee expenses are unmanaged, it dramatically increases your exposure to non-compliance and T&E costs. How can a business with numerous remote employees making hundreds of transactions every day accurately spot and address such expenses and prevent fraud? With the right T&E policies for remote employees, you can.
3. Addressing your T&E Risks May Require Innovative Solutions
As a business owner, it is essential not to sideline the T&E challenges facing your remote employees. This negligence can exasperate employees leading to low morale, job satisfaction, and productivity. Additionally, failing to provide an impartial working environment may also increase your exposure to legal disputes.
Most businesses that don’t proactively get ahead of these problems through innovative modern solutions are more likely to deal with increased exposure to risks. To prevent mismanaged remote employee expenditure, companies must adapt to modern innovation and adjust their T&E policies to reflect the changing nature of remote work and ensure they are still effectively managing their expenses.
Things to keep in mind when creating T&E Policies for your remote employees
Understanding the ramifications of an outdated or impractical T&E policy gets you one step closer to creating optimized guidelines for your remote employees. The following tips are helpful considerations when writing a T&E policy that optimally addresses your business’s and its employees’ needs.
1. Review Existing Employee Policies
Reviewing existing employee policies is essential when creating a T&E policy for remote employees. This process can help organizations identify gaps in the current guidelines to identify what works and what needs improvement, considering the expense requirements of both non-remote and remote employees equally.
Once you’ve identified the discrepancies, you can devise a new T&E policy that aligns with your company’s culture, values, and goals. Reviewing and building upon your existing policies ultimately maintains familiarity even as you revamp them or introduce updates to facilitate your remote employees.
It ensures that you create adaptable, comprehensive, practical, fair, and legally compliant T&E policies.
2. Conduct a Spend Analysis
Evaluating a business’s spending patterns is one of the most important considerations when creating travel and expense policies for remote employees. It can help you analyze your remote employees’ variable expenses and travel requirements to cut costs.
Doing so also ensures you better understand the difference in needs between your remote and non-remote employees and adjust your policy accordingly to prevent overspending across the board.
For instance, through analysis, you can identify discrepancies where non-remote employees receive better travel accommodations discounts than remote employees. This information will allow you to negotiate better deals with your travel vendors to provide equal opportunities for your remote employees.
Another pressing problem is that each remote employee may be subject to different regulations and tax laws, depending on their geological location. By conducting a spend analysis, you can ensure that your new T&E policy complies with the particular employee’s regional tax laws and regulations, avoiding potential legal issues.
3. Guide Desired Behaviors with your Remote Employee T&E Policy
When creating your T&E for remote employees, it is vital to provide remote employees with a clear understanding of what constitutes an allowable expense. By clearly defining what is reimbursable and what is not, you can avoid confusion and ensure that the treatment of all your employees is fair and impartial.
Your policy guidelines should also consider the unique regional expenses that a remote employee may incur. These expenses may include additional communication, home office, and other remote work expenses.
Your T&E policy for your remote employees should have internal controls that discourage the misuse of corporate funds for personal gains and recreation without hindering compliant actions performed for the company’s best interests.
By setting clear guidelines, rules, and awareness on what costs are eligible for reimbursement, you eliminate confusion, making way for a seamless reimbursement process. With the proper visibility in place, the remote employee will act within the guidelines of the policy, and there will not be any problems with their compliance or reimbursements.
4. Ensure that your New Policy Treats All Employees Equally
Treating all employees fairly and equally is crucial to maintaining a positive and productive work environment. Implement clear guidelines and policies around expense reporting and reimbursement that treat all employees equally regardless of their organizational role or location.
Fairness in your policies for remote and non-working employees upholds job satisfaction, loyalty, morale, and productivity while driving a positive working environment.
Laws and regulations concerning employment policies constantly vary from region to region, and treating remote employees differently from on-site employees can lead to legal complications. Creating an equitable environment through your employee T&E policy can address these regulatory variations and dramatically reduce your business’s exposure to legal compliance issues.
A T&E policy that treats remote employees with equal clarity and transparency and those on-site will lead to more accurate expense reports, reduced discrepancies, and fewer doubts regarding travel reimbursement for remote employees.
Most importantly, customize your remote employee travel expense policy to suit the unique individual needs of your remote employees. It allows you to streamline processes, curb costs, and increase visibility into remote expenditures.
Doing so also ensures that your finance department and administrators can adequately oversee the remote employee’s expenses.
The ultimate goal is to create and encourage T&E policies for remote employees that treat them equally with on-site workers in terms of clarity, compliance, and fairness.
5. Clearly Communicate your Remote Employee Travel Expense Policy
The policy must be easily understandable and readily visible to your remote employees such that they clearly understand the company’s expectations, how they should spend company funds when traveling for work, what constitutes an acceptable expense, and how to comply with the T&E guidelines.
For instance, the policy should stipulate and communicate to the remote employee if it covers transportation, lodging, meals, and incidentals. Remember, this communication is an absolutely critical consideration for remote employees since they are not physically present on-site. It will help reduce any confusion and misunderstandings that could lead to policy violations.
Moreover, ensuring that the remote policy is communicated clearly across the board will also ensure that the policy is applied equally to all employees, regardless of where they work.
Lastly, pick your communication channel wisely. A good practice is to transparently deliver your travel expense policies for remote employees using standardized communications mediums that all workers (On-site and remote) are comfortable using, irrespective of their location.
6. Automate Claims and Reimbursements
Automated expense management software allows your business and its departments to seamlessly outline and deliver the corporate expense policy to your remote employees. Implementing automated expense management systems will make the policies visible to your remote and non-remote employees with equal clarity.
This way, your remote employees will always know what they are allowed and disallowed to spend per the T&E policies. It enables remote employees to base every expenditure on compliance with the travel policy’s guidelines and limitations.
Automated expense management systems will monitor the expenses and claims from your remote employees and instantly notify the relevant administrators, including the finance department, in the event of non-compliance. This visibility allows administrators to swiftly take corrective measures to bring expenditures back under control.
Such tools help track the travel expenses of your remote employees in real time, automate approvals, and make it easier to process reimbursements. By automating claims and reimbursements, you can reduce the time and resources needed to manage the expenses of your remote employees and improve the accuracy of their travel reimbursements.
In conclusion, creating T&E policies that work uniformly for remote and on-site employees may be challenging for many businesses lacking the right innovations in travel expense management. We hope that this article sheds light on some of the vital considerations when creating new travel expense policies to address the challenges you face with your remote employees.
Create and enforce effective Remote Employee T&E policy with Tripeur
The primary focus at Tripeur has always been to design our products and modules with a deep understanding of our customer’s needs. Our full-scale T&E expense module provides a robust solution that addresses, solves, and simplifies all challenges your business faces with your remote employees once and for all.
Tripeur’s system will be the last solution you need to create and enforce effective, fair, and transparent T&E policies that ensure that your organization cuts costs, remains compliant, avoid legal ramifications, and remain optimally productive.
Our expense module helps keep the finance department in the loop through expenditure alerts and reports through all stages of the T&E experience. Take advantage of our user-friendly software to dramatically cut costs, perpetually fix your remote employee’s travel expense issues, simplify T&E expense management, and ultimately streamline accurate and quick reconciliation like never before. Contact us to find out more.