Now that the concept of remote working has been proven out, especially during the pandemic, businesses are beginning to open positions to candidates further afield. But as greater numbers of businesses adopt a dispersed workforce model, leadership teams need to attend to new considerations.
While technology enables smooth communications and business processes have generally adapted to remote working, financial considerations remain somewhat more complex. Being able to spend company money quickly and efficiently outside of the country is one of the few remaining hurdles facing remote workers. Fortunately, adopting the right technology and policies makes it entirely possible to hire employees regardless of where they are based.
Balancing control with autonomy
Employees need to spend company money when working on the go, and this presents the challenge of balancing autonomy and freedom to spend with control and oversight.
Traditionally, businesses have leaned too far in the control direction, implementing complex and onerous processes for employee spending, such as receipt-based reimbursement. Spending out of pocket is unfair on employees for a variety of reasons, and ultimately worse for the business if it discourages employees from making necessary purchases. These challenges are all exacerbated by distance, where employees need to scan their receipts and potentially deal with translating them and converting the currency.
Fortunately, modern solutions such as business spending apps and prepaid company cards offer a more balanced solution. Employees can spend ‘ in their local currency ‘ while finance teams can monitor the use of the card in real-time. Many solutions even offer spending caps and limitations by product category to automatically control the types of purchases that the card can be used for.
Employees at different levels of the organisation will have different spending needs, but businesses must try to establish consistency in their policies ‘ across geographies and seniority ‘ wherever possible.
Consistent policies decrease the likelihood of financial mismanagement and ensure that everybody knows what they can and cannot use company money for. The amounts available to employees can be divided by seniority, role, and geography, but it’s important to keep them transparent and communicate them clearly.
In terms of implementing the policy, the most efficient solution is to adopt a centralised spend management system that covers the entire business and all geographies. This ensures that the data is all in one place for the finance team to review and limits the possibilities of outside circumstances ‘ such as additional fees unfairly affecting employees using one solution ‘ influencing the policy.
Making smart payment decisions
Building a global workforce will likely involve dealing with multiple currencies, both in terms of salaries and wider business expenses such as supplier payments and ongoing subscriptions. To avoid losing out as the relative value of currencies fluctuates, finance teams need to keep a keen eye on the currency market.
Businesses sending money overseas regularly should consider working with a dedicated foreign exchange partner. Currency experts can automatically make trades when rates are favourable and offer a wider range of payment options to ensure businesses are getting the most for their money. They are also well positioned to offer guidance on factors impacting the markets and how to mitigate the risk.
When working with employees overseas, there are further security measures to consider and having tighter control is necessary. Businesses will need some level of control over spending and company cards in case, for example, they are misplaced or overused.
Fortunately, ‘pause and resume’ features on some company cards are 24/7 so aren’t dependent on working hours ‘ so if a card is misplaced you can securely block payments. Caps and limits are also enabled by modern spending solutions so ATM withdrawals can be blocked or expanded depending on an employee’s role and level of responsibility.
Eliminating barriers to international employment
It has been demonstrated that technology makes remote working feasible for many businesses. Just as tech enables us to have a conversation and share documents in real-time with someone across the country ‘ or across the globe ‘ it also opens up solutions for managing money at a distance.
The appeal of remote and international employment is considerably higher following recent events, and businesses that take advantage of this trend will have significant advantages in the years ahead.