Spend Management for Remote Working Employees

By Linda RoperMay 25, 2023

As businesses embrace remote and hybrid work arrangements, they're encountering new hurdles, including spend management for their remote working employees. So, the question is, how can your finance department successfully oversee, keep track of, and control business costs for team members who may have never even seen your physical office? 

In this article, we share with you the challenges that remote employees face with their spend management along with some tips on how remote employees and Finance teams can overcome them.  

Woman working on laptop sitting in front of her sofa whilst talking on the phoneTable of Contents

What Challenges Do Remote Employees Face With Their Spend Management? 

Employees who don’t work from the office can often encounter various obstacles while working in this way, which could impact their overall job satisfaction and performance. These challenges often revolve around processes that are typically straightforward in traditional office settings but become complicated in a remote context. Here's a breakdown of the primary challenges faced by remote employees in terms of their spend management: 

Manual Submission of Receipts

Remote employees often find the task of manually submitting receipts to be complex. This process is relatively straightforward in an on-premises work environment where physical receipts can be handed over directly to the finance department. However, in a remote setting, the absence of face-to-face interactions complicates this process, requiring employees to either mail in physical receipts or digitise them for electronic submission

Not only can this process become difficult for employees, but it also presents a significant hurdle for finance teams to overcome. If the process is inefficient, it may lead to a loss of goodwill and unnecessary stress for both parties involved. 

Woman checking pile of receipts which is laying in front of her on the tableLoss of Receipts

Another issue arises from the possibility of losing receipts. When working remotely, employees may misplace or lose track of their physical receipts due to the lack of a structured work environment. This makes it challenging to provide tangible proof of their expenses when required. 

Delayed Reimbursements

The process of approval and reimbursement is another significant challenge in spend management for remote employees. In an inefficient system, this process can become prolonged, often causing financial stress and inconvenience for the employees. This is especially concerning when employees have to bear business expenses upfront, making them more susceptible to financial strain while waiting for reimbursement

Getting a grasp of these difficulties allows companies to find solutions, making things easier and more supportive for their remote employees. This is crucial not just for keeping employees happy but also for maintaining clear and precise control over the company's finances. 

How Can Businesses Overcome Those Challenges? 

There are several strategies companies can adopt to overcome the challenges of spend management for remote employees. These approaches range from having a comprehensive expense policy to leveraging technology for managing expenses. 

Share An Expense Policy 

Having a well-defined expense policy is crucial in managing remote employees' expenses. It sets clear guidelines on allowable expenses, the process of submission, and the timeline for reimbursements. Sharing this policy ensures remote employees understand what is expected of them and helps eliminate any potential confusion or misunderstanding. 

Communicate a Clear Budget 

Open and clear communication about the budget helps employees understand the limits of their spending. When remote employees know the budget they have to work within, it encourages them to be more accountable and make informed decisions. A transparent budget process also promotes trust between the company and its employees. 

Set a Clear Cut-Off Day for the Submission of Expenses 

Setting a specific day for expense submission helps maintain regularity and order in managing remote employees' expenses. This practice not only allows employees to stay organised and avoid last-minute rushes but also helps the finance team process reimbursements quicker and more efficiently. 

Issue Company Cards 

Issuing company cards to remote employees can significantly streamline the process of tracking business expenses. With company cards, employers can directly monitor expenditures, making it easier to manage budgets and ensure compliance with the company's spending policy. 

Invest in an Automated Expense Solution 

Implementing an automated expense solution like ExpenseIn can significantly simplify spend management for remote employees. Such tools eliminate manual processes, reducing the chances of errors and delays. Plus, they offer features like a receipt scanning app with automatic data extraction, making it easier for employees to submit expenses and for finance managers to approve them in a timely manner. Moreover, daily tracking of expenses ensures that the managerial workload is manageable. Rather than processing multiple tranches of expenses at once, they can devote a few minutes each day to monitor the situation, ensuring efficient spending management for remote employees. 

Man sitting in a coffee shop interacting with his laptop screenOutlook: Happy Remote Employees 

Remote workers might often feel underappreciated compared to their office-based counterparts. They may lack regular contact with their managers and colleagues, which can sometimes lead to feelings of isolation or insignificance. Therefore, it's imperative that organisations take extra steps toward fostering employee well-being

Efficient spend management for remote employees is a simple yet effective area where companies can make a difference. When expenses are approved and paid promptly, employees feel valued and recognised. But it's important to look beyond just the financial aspect. Emotional and social considerations should be taken into account as well to ensure a holistic approach to employee satisfaction. 

Regular virtual meetings or catch-ups can mitigate feelings of isolation and improve communication. Tools like Skype, Zoom, or Teams can facilitate this, bringing teams together despite physical distances. These regular interactions not only help employees stay connected but also provide opportunities for managers to address any concerns or issues that may arise. 

Ensuring that remote workers are included in company events is also important. Even if they can't be present physically, organising virtual events or making provisions for them to participate remotely can make a significant difference in how they perceive their role in the organisation. These inclusive practices go a long way in fostering a sense of belonging, which is crucial for maintaining high morale and productivity. 

Keeping remote employees in the loop about new developments is equally essential. Regular updates about the company's direction, changes in policies, or any other significant news make them feel involved and valued. This is particularly important in enhancing their trust in the organisation and making them feel like integral parts of the team, despite working remotely. 

Final Thoughts 

In conclusion, while spend management for remote employees presents its own set of challenges, it also opens up opportunities for businesses to innovate and improve their processes.  

An effective spend management system, coupled with strong communication and inclusive practices, can result in more productive, satisfied, and engaged remote employees.  

In the end, when the employees are happy and feel valued, it reflects positively on the organisation's overall performance and growth.