Managing Expenses: Could remote working be the new normal?
All lines between what is normal and what’s not seemed to have blurred in 2020. Whilst there had been a considerable rise in remote working in the past, the lockdown forced the business world to take a crash course in making remote working possible without much warning. Except for a specific set of occupations, which require incumbents to be physically present, the pandemic has taught the world that remote working is not only possible, but that it has many benefits for workers and businesses alike.
With all of these changes, it's crucial to ensure your expense system can give you the visibility on new expense patterns and can embrace, not restrict remote working.
The decline of the commute
In fact, the majority of the British workforce would rather not return to work physically full-time and like the option to work from home, which is something that businesses need to consider in order to stay competitive to talented workers. The pandemic has demonstrated to many that the time spent in commuting, which averaged 59 minutes in 2019, can be put to better use. Not commuting daily also benefits the environment, so it’s time we all got behind the idea!
Staff expenses and remote working
The recent Access Expense Report 2020, which looks at the expense trends of over 1000 UK organisations during the lockdown has also shown that companies have made on average £49,000 savings per month on (mostly travel) expenses, due in large part to the shift away from face-to-face meetings and sales calls.
The savings on rail, taxi, company cars, hotels, airfare and food and drink expenses are significant. There’s also there’s little hard evidence to suggest that face to face meetings have any real benefit on closing the deal compared to video calls, especially when you factor in the time sales staff would have to spend travelling rather than calling.
Using expense software to identify where these savings can be made is key to making the most of this change, and also helps to enforce and remind of any expense policy changes you will need to make.
The return to the office?
It is to be noted that even when offices do open their doors to the majority of their staff, it will look nothing like what we were accustomed to. It is expected that there will still be social distancing measures in place and the socialisation will be to a minimum. On top of that, since remote working has worked well for most organisations, it will be a challenge for the business leaders to convince most of the workforce that their physical presence would indeed be necessary.
On the flip side, not everyone is as thrilled to work from home as the others. Some people do not have enough space or correct equipment to make it a pleasant experience. Others live in shared accommodation and feel that they are always stepping on each other’s toes. There are some who have trouble juggling work and homeschooling whilst the schools are closed and childcare is unavailable. Then there are people who live alone and yearn for occasional chats with their colleagues in the office kitchen. There could be a myriad of reasons for wanting to physically return to work.
Evidently, there is no one-size-fits-all solution that will magically make working from home the absolute norm for everyone. Flexible working, however, seems to be way forward. Would some like to move away from metropolitan cities like London, live in the countryside and keep doing their job remotely? That would not be unheard of. Would some workers like the flexibility to pick and choose when they want to work from home? Of course. Would some want to return to the office full-time? That would also be a resonating yes!
Embracing remote expenses
Therefore, would brick and mortar offices are going to be a relic of the past? The answer would be no. However, with the flexibility that the workforce has become accustomed to, it’s time to ensure that you have an expenses system which can embrace remote working, and give you visibility of your expenses too.
With Access Expense, users can submit expenses remotely, to be approved remotely. Without the need to post off receipts to a central office, the finance team is free to work remotely too and does not have to manually manage expenses, freeing up their time for other value-added tasks.
With built-in advanced analytics to show where the changes to your expenses are occurring, you can adapt your expense policy accordingly to make the most of new working patterns, and enforce them easily with automated rules.