Into the After: The tech taking remote work strategies from policy to process has been saved
Into the After: The tech taking remote work strategies from policy to process
Striking a balance for employer and employees
The push for remote work strategies didn’t begin in 2020. In the Before (i.e., prior to 2020), some employees had already been changing how they viewed work. They were getting tired of the hurry-up-and-wait dynamic of scrambling to get ready for work before sitting in traffic all the way to the office. The gas prices. The missed soccer games. The loss of productivity any time a family member got sick. A lot of people were starting to ask for new arrangements, and a lot of their employers were willing to give them a try.
Then came the global pandemic
COVID-19 forced widespread office closures, and began a worldwide case study in how “fully remote” looks and feels. While some employees missed having that in-person connection, many employees discovered the benefits of newfound flexibility.
The After had arrived. And those employees who realized the benefits expected the remote work switch to stay flipped on or, at a minimum, partially on. They wanted to have a choice between maintaining flexibility and connecting in meaningful ways when it matters most.
The dynamic between employee and employer has shifted. Labor shortages in some sectors have pushed employers to focus on or emphasize the value they provide to their employees. Remote and hybrid work strategies are a big part of that value.
Tax and talent departments bear the brunt of the work turning this employee desire for remote work into reality—whether it’s short-term or long-term, hybrid or fully remote. The manual processes these teams relied on in the Before are no longer enough in the After. It’s critical that these teams have access to leading-edge technology that enables their company’s remote work policy seamlessly and with limited risk.
Getting the facts
Determining the feasibility of a remote work request has traditionally required a lot of email back-and-forth and spreadsheets. The journey may have gone something like this:
- The employee submits the request to their manager.
- The manager reaches out to HR to understand the request’s feasibility.
- HR gathers additional details from the employee.
- Corporate tax is consulted on the remote-work corporate tax implications for the organization.
- Global mobility and the immigration team evaluate immigration considerations and individual tax and other compliance requirements (like Social Security).
- Payroll is looped in for any required withholding and reporting changes.
- Legal could be consulted for employment law implications.
- Benefits may weigh in on the impacts to insurance or other programs.
- Lastly, IT could be tasked with identifying any potential security issues with the request.
Each party contributed relevant data and identified potential risks and implications. It’s like a snowball rolling down a hill. By the time all these parties are on the same page and someone has sifted through all the disparate data to make a decision, weeks or even months may have passed.
Making your call
Inconsistent data gathering leads to inconsistent decision-making—adding complexity to fair and equitable remote and hybrid work strategies.
Without the right processes and technology, it’s difficult to align organization wide on remote work rules, thresholds, and guardrails. For example, one manager makes one decision. Another in a similar position makes a different one. Decisions that are seemingly straightforward get the same treatment as more complicated ones do, clogging up the request system. Complicated ones that need to get elevated may get stuck in someone’s email inbox or experience a range of other delays that could result in a game of telephone.
All of these potential pitfalls can have an impact on an employee’s trust in leadership.
Data gathering and decision-making for remote requests can be carried out case by case. What happens after is often fly-by-night.
Many companies find it difficult to implement tech-based tracking measures that ensure employees are following the agreed-upon policies and guidelines, including where they should be working. Instead, they may do it informally. They may do it irregularly. When employee and employer aren’t on the same page about where work is happening, significant remote-work tax risks can arise. So tracking is vital, but finding the balance of tracking accurately without compromising trust can be tough to strike.
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