Managing expenses isn’t the most exciting aspect of running a business, but it has to be done. Getting budget approvals, submitting invoices and receipts, and keeping track of multiple credit accounts with banks are vital parts of your operations.
In some ways, remote work has created new challenges for businesses that have to monitor and manage multiple expense accounts within their teams.
So you might be wondering, “Is there a better way to manage my business expenses?”
Yes, there certainly is. But you need to understand the nature of your expenses before you can find opportunities to make them more efficient and organized.
Recognizing remote work expenses and issues
Remote or distributed work is a great way for businesses to save money on base expenses (such as office rent) and source talent from outside of their region. Even businesses that keep a regional office are still likely sourcing at least some work from remote contractors.
However, having a distributed team without an office doesn’t entirely exempt your business from various expenses. Let’s look at what those are.
Expenses unique to remote and distributed work
Distributed teams have many of the same expenses that in-office teams do, but there are some differences. We’ll check them out below.
Remote and distributed teams often still hold in-person meetings and get-togethers, albeit infrequently. This is a way for employees to stay connected, since they’re on their own most of the time.
Managing travel expenses entails the following:
- Requiring employees to save and submit receipts for reimbursement.
- Making bulk purchases for flights, hotels, meals, and more, then sending details to your team.
- Sending credit card details to individual employees for work-related purchases, then sorting invoices and transactions once the statement arrives.
Ensuring these expenses remain organized can be tedious work. Further down, we’ll discuss some solutions.
Regular budget items
Remote team members who work on specific projects usually have regular items within their budgets:
- Stipends and perks. Remote teams typically want the same perks that they had in the office, like snacks, team lunches, gym access, and more. When working remotely, these perks typically come in the form of stipends for submitted expenses.
- Required work materials. Physical materials such as hardware (printers, computers, etc.), product prototypes, and other goods are usually necessary, whether in or out of a traditional office. However, it’s more difficult to repair or replace physical goods with remote teams. Administering separate unique expenses for individual employees can also get confusing over time, especially in terms of accounting.
- Software subscriptions. All software subscriptions are online, which makes managing them a bit easier than managing other expenses. But the nature of your teams’ work will determine the subscriptions you need. Each department will likely know the exact subscriptions it needs, but sometimes testing periods are necessary to figure out which tools work best for the business. This demands some autonomy, which makes keeping track of software subscriptions a little more difficult.
Recurring and one-off projects
Managing projects and managing expenses might seem like separate tasks, but they’re actually completely intertwined. However, the connection is not always clear. Projects always have expenses, but tracking costs and approvals can get foggy unless you make an active effort to organize them.
Project expenses can range from marketing initiatives to new product development to events and get-togethers. One-time projects are also part of this category.
Potential issues with remote team expense management
Now that you know a few types of expenses that apply to remote work, let’s go over some issues that your finance team (or general staff) may have to deal with while managing these expenses remotely.
Getting expense approvals for a project is always anxiety-inducing, but it’s even more stressful when you’re pursuing them remotely. Sending an email to speed things up can be disruptive for finance teams—and that goes for managing employee reimbursements, too.
Slow approvals are a pain for both employees and management teams. They also pose problems for business operations, such as the following:
- Handling a high number of approvals, organizing batches of receipts, and not knowing precisely what you’re paying for is a headache for the accounting department.
- Slow approvals affect operational progress and efficiency, which is frustrating for teams wanting to move forward quickly.
- Employees might lose patience when waiting for money owed to them for things necessary to do their work.
Tracking multiple accounts
Businesses usually have multiple bank accounts, credit cards, and other tools to send and scan receipts. This results in a jumble of logins that are easy to confuse or lose. Sometimes it even takes weeks to determine which accounts to log into first before doing whatever’s required next.
Reconciliation and categorization
Once you have your operational expenses laid out, the checks written, and the account payables caught up, you still have to categorize and reconcile everything. And you typically need to document and track all of this in your accounting software.
So, remote and distributed teams that have multiple streams of unique transactions and expenses have a much trickier reconciliation process. This is why it’s vital to have a solution that will simplify and reduce the number of steps in your accounting workflow.
What to consider in an expense management solution
Here are some factors you should consider when exploring expense management solutions.
A complete view of expenses
Investing in a tool that has a single login and combines all your business accounts and expenses makes a world of difference. Whether your business is totally remote or hybrid (a mix of remote and in-office work), uses remote contractors, or involves all of the above, one unified tool will benefit your operations.
You can maintain better cash flow control while speeding up operations within your remote team.
Fast expense approval
Your expense management solution should be designed for fast approvals with just a few clicks. This helps you avoid potentially frantic pileups at the end of the month. Using a Business Expense Management System like Airwallex can help. Along with its Global Accounts offering, you can get instant approval notifications, make transfers, see card transactions in real time, and do much more.
Better consolidation control and attribution
Another tool that helps remote teams is a storage solution for receipts, tax invoices, and more. You’ll always have a firm grasp of your payments, so nothing will be owed without you knowing.
You can set limits and create program notifications to alert you when something is out of scope. You can also sync all your expenses into a management account, like with Airwallex, which results in rapid reconciliation and categorization.
Everything will be on track before the bills are even due.
Growing your business globally? Learn more about our friends at Airwallex here.
Oyster is a global employment platform designed to enable visionary HR leaders to find, hire, pay, manage, develop, and take care of a thriving distributed workforce. Oyster lets growing companies give valued international team members the experience they deserve, without the usual headaches and expense.