In an ideal world, every employee would use the same technology with a high level of competence to make tech issues obsolete. However, the reality when managing a remote workforce is that everyone will come to the table with different experience levels, skillsets, needs, and platform familiarity. The challenge is fitting these pieces together into a robust framework to facilitate secure, efficient, scalable work.
Listening to employees to find out what they need to be productive and what kinds of questions or concerns they have is crucial in overcoming technology challenges. This information can then be used for technology decisions when implementing new software and upgrading existing platforms.
Working from home creates more freedom for employees, often leading to more flexible schedules. This shift can make timely communication and meeting project deadlines more difficult if not managed proactively. Integrating the right technology can facilitate better communication while creating company-wide or team-specific policies that can guide expectations about when employees should be reachable. Additionally, if specific communication methods are not suitable for your business due to regulatory requirements or security needs, a formal policy can ensure employees are aware of these limitations ahead of time to avoid issues before they arise.
Monitoring employee contributions is more difficult with remote employees because managers cannot necessarily “see” their inputs in the same way that they would have in the office. Furthermore, management may need to use different criteria to evaluate employees once they are remote because their jobs may have changed with the switch.
However, as metrics change, attitudes need to change also. An Engagedly article summarizes, “Trust your remote employees and exhibit the trust when you talk to them. Most employers feel that remote employees do not dedicate themselves to work completely. This mindset cannot help you build a team spirit.” Provide a framework to define expectations, and then empower employees by giving them the flexibility and freedom to do their best work.
When employees are spread out, organizations tend to consolidate functions to improve efficiency, but in the case of accounting controls, that can be a dangerous decision.
Fraud risk is higher when it can be done in a “faceless” environment (like through an online bank transfer instead of taking money from a cash register drawer) and when employees do not think someone is watching. Both of these criteria are met in a remote environment, putting employers in an, especially vulnerable position. Mitigate this risk by following financial best practices:
When an organization is new to managing an offsite workforce, controls can be inadvertently relaxed, weakened, or eliminated, which makes outsourcing accounting functions to a reputable company even more important to reduce errors and keep fraud risk low. Ask for help from a professional if you need it!
Learn more about the payroll implications of employing remote workers to determine if you’re missing anything critical from a bookkeeping perspective.
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