Those of us who have been working from home may be due to return to the office before long, but things are very different now than they were in March 2020. The world has changed significantly, and businesses of almost all stripes have learned that they can operate remotely.
Many of us have become accustomed to working at home ‘ without the cost of commuting ‘ and people are rightly considering how they want to handle finances and spending in the new post-lockdown world. Money is at the heart of many of these decisions, and to reach an effective, agreeable solution, we can’t ignore the elephant in the room. Money shouldn’t be a dirty word, especially in the employee-employer relationship, so it’s time to cast aside the taboo and have constructive conversations about it with your team.
Honesty is the best policy
If your business plans to return to the office, it should explain the reasons why. Present the facts and figures and explain the personal reasons the company plans to return ‘ perhaps you feel collaboration is more effective in person, or you’re keen to meet with clients.
Remember that it isn’t just employees who will see a change to their expenses due to going back to work ‘ many businesses will also face increased expenditure. This creates an opportunity for dialogue. The right way to handle money will vary from one company to another but being open, honest and straightforward is always the best policy.
Considerate expenses policies and spend cards
A large-scale return to the office is a great time for businesses (that haven’t already done so) to implement an expense management system. Modern expense management platforms enable team members to make purchases directly using a prepaid company card. This ensures that employees never need to reach into their own pockets to make a work purchase. These cards also make it easy for leadership to review spending in real-time and control the amount and types of purchases each employee can use company funds for.
Employees will feel better returning to the office if they are reassured about the expense system, so now more than ever, it is essential to have a clear, fair policy so that your employees know what is and isn’t reasonable for them to expense.
Address financial wellbeing
Providing access to confidential financial support from a third party can help to ease any financial anxieties your employees might have. Financial wellbeing support can take many forms, but one popular solution is money management advice. This is especially valuable to younger employees setting out on their own, or those entering a new phase of life, such as starting a family or planning to buy their first property.
Salary sacrifice programmes, such as cycle-to-work or annual train pass schemes, are also an excellent way to help employees manage costs. If the commute is a major issue for staff, remind them of the available business-subsidised alternatives. Employees benefit from tax savings, and they will be able to set up an affordable payment plan.
Some businesses even offer third party saving schemes and loans for employees, such as corporate ISAs, to support their employees’ financial health. For some employees, contributing to a savings account directly from their pay is a great way to avoid the temptation to spend cash that they should be putting aside.
Talking money is the key to a successful return
It may go against our British sensibilities to openly discuss money, but the impending return to the office is an inflexion point, and we have a chance to make a real change. Discussing money openly, starting with discussions about the expenses required to return to the office, will be appreciated by your team and will put the business on the path to post-pandemic prosperity.