How to manage employee expenses for remote teams

August 19, 2021

By Ben Grossberg

The popularity of remote working is a trend that’s continuing to grow at pace. 78% of Australian office workers believe remote working is likely to become the new normal, post-pandemic, according to research by Citrix. But when your remote team is dispersed across many locations, this can have a profound impact on your ability to manage employee expenses.

So, what are the key challenges of expense management for a dispersed team of remote workers? And how can an expenses platform like Weel help to minimise these pain points? 

The continuing rise in remote working

With offices closed over the course of the recent cross-state lockdowns, the ability to work remotely in the cloud has become a lifeline for corporations and small businesses alike. 

Many companies, both large and small, have changed their working practices to reflect the benefits of ‘working from home’ (WFH). A recent survey from Slack showed that 72% of respondents would prefer a ‘hybrid’ approach to work – i.e. a mix of remote and office work. But when your team is no longer working permanently from a central office HQ this can seriously affect your oversight of key operational and financial processes in the business.

In short, when your team is not in the same building, it’s very difficult to know:

  • What they’re working on
  • How much company money they’re spending
  • How well they’re progressing against targets and budgets.

Employee working from home

5 reasons why expense management is difficult for dispersed teams

Dispersed teams 'succeed fast and fail slow' according to recent research from the Harvard Business Review. Your remote team may be more efficient than co-located teams, but with team members in different districts, cities or even different countries and timezones, it’s difficult for company policies to be universal – and for expense guidelines to be followed.  

With zero (or highly limited) face-to-face time as a team, the company processes, rules and good practice around expenses can gradually begin to slip.

  1. A temptation to overspend on expenses 
    When remote team members have access to a company card, there’s very little oversight of what they’re spending. So it’s easy for employees to slip into bad habits; overspending, not being careful with their budget limits or even unauthorised purchases. According to a Weel study of 326 small businesses, 18% of business owners said they had caught an employee making a purchase that was personal, not approved or not allowed in their business’s expense categories.
  2. Diminished control over spending for the finance team 
    With payments being made by multiple remote workers from the one company card, it’s extremely hard for the accounts payable team to keep on top of spending. This reduces your awareness of outgoings and can impact on your ability to manage cash flow.
  3. Poor security of card details and transactions 
    With a dispersed team, physical card details have to be shared via email, Slack or company chats. Without proper VPNs or end-to-end encryption, this increases the risk of card details being intercepted online and/or transactions being hacked.
  4. Difficulty in replacing compromised cards 
    When a company card is compromised or the details hacked, the card then needs to be blocked and replaced by the bank – all of which takes time to action. The longer it takes to cancel, the more time there is for malicious hackers to spend your company money.
  5. Slow reimbursement for expenses 
    Remote workers have to pay for certain business-related expenses out of their own pockets. They then face a long wait to get their money back, while expense claims are processed and bank payments made. This becomes a cash-flow issue for your employees’ personal finances.

The ability to work from home may be changing working patterns and ramping up productivity, but it’s clear that a new solution is needed for managing remote expenses.

Weel is your ideal remote expenses solution

Cloud technology is what’s allowed remote working to be a feasible option in 2021. The huge range of cloud-based platforms, apps and digital solutions make it possible to run your business systems from anywhere – so, why should your expense management be any different?

A digital expense management solution, like Weel, slots into your remote app stack and brings you an effective online platform for managing your dispersed team’s expenses.

  • Virtual cards on mobile devicesvirtual corporate cards are easy to set up remotely when employees are not in the same office as the finance team or approver.
  • Allocated budgets and card controls – remote workers can manage their own spending via discrete cards assigned to a specific budget, with set rules and controls for each virtual card, so remote spending doesn't get out of hand
  • No need for expense claims – remote workers can use their own virtual card to pay for ad-hoc expenses, using company money and removing the need for expenses claims.
  • Real-time reporting – the finance team has full oversight of all expenses made by the remote team, through the real-time reporting in Weel.
  • Easy replacement of cards – virtual cards can be easily blocked if card details are compromised and a new virtual card then set up almost instantaneously.

Get in full control of remote expenses

Dispersed teams are likely to be a huge part of the future of work. And with remote work now a reality for many organisations, it’s important to have an expenses process that’s good to go. 

Take a look at Weel and see how an online, centralised approach to expense management removes the remote working hurdles and puts you back in control of spending.

Book a demo today and bring the power of Weel to your remote workers.

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