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How To Empower Remote And Hybrid Workers With Digital Expense Cards

~11min reading time
A men laying on the beach, with his head on his backpack and his laptop on his legs.

It may have taken a global pandemic, but remote working is here to stay!

By this stage, a whopping 25% of Irish employees work remotely – an upward trend seen globally, with 28% of employees worldwide either working from home or abroad in a country of their choice. Hybrid work has also become the norm for many in Ireland with a 2024 Hays Ireland survey revealing that 41% of professionals now work in a hybrid model.

The benefits of this modern way of working are endless but according to a Statista survey, the top three reasons why employees love remote work are:

  • Flexibility in managing their time (22%)
  • Freedom to choose where to live (19%)
  • Ability to select a preferred work location (13%)

The shift also gives companies the advantages of a diverse, engaged, and healthier workforce.

A remote workforce may be healthier and happier, and often more efficient, but it brings a few challenges for businesses. The cracks in the ice start to appear particularly when it comes to expenses. Traditional reimbursement systems, on which many businesses in Ireland still rely, see remote workers keeping paper receipts, wasting time with lengthy approval processes, and waiting on reimbursements — creating friction and frustration among geographically dispersed teams. Other issues that tend to pop up include burnout and overworking, and employees not using proper home-office setups.

In this article, we will explore ways to improve remote employee satisfaction, retain the best hires, and tackle the challenges of remote working and expense management.

1 in 5 Remote Workers Experienced Burnout Last Year

Buffer’s State of Remote Work revealed that 44% of remote workers reported overworking last year, and 1 in 5 experienced burnout. These figures highlight the urgency for managers and business leaders to prioritise proactive solutions to better support remote staff.

One effective strategy is encouraging frequent breaks throughout the workday. However, simply suggesting breaks may not be enough. Consider offering incentives that directly promote well-being. A prepaid digital Mastercard with a designated amount for a tasty lunch or a visit to a local café is a thoughtful gesture that demonstrates genuine care for your team's health. Employees will not only appreciate the surprise but are likely to return to work feeling recharged and ready to contribute their best.

38% of Remote Workers Pay for Their Own Office Equipment

An ergonomic home-office setup isn't a luxury; it's a sound investment. Studies show that ergonomic setups boost productivity, reduce absenteeism, and improve overall employee well-being.

Yet, the 2023 Buffer report reveals a troubling trend: Last year, 25% of remote workers were expected to cover the costs for hardware items such as monitors and mouses, and 38% weren’t reimbursed by their employer for office equipment like an ergonomic chair and desk.

This short-sighted approach often results in consequences like:

Lost Productivity: Poor ergonomics lead to discomfort, fatigue, and even long-term debilitating injuries, according to Ibec research. This translates into lost work hours and decreased output, directly impacting your bottom line.

Disengaged Workforce: Neglecting your employee’s well-being sends a negative message, contributing to disengagement and higher turnover - further increasing costs for your business.

To address this, employers should consider supporting remote employees with prepaid digital Mastercards with a designated budget for ergonomic equipment. Even simple items like a laptop stand and keyboard can make a huge impact on comfort and productivity. For more comprehensive needs, this budget could also cover monitors, standing desks, and chairs. This level of flexibility ensures employees have the tools for a safe, healthy, and productive work environment, whether at home or on the go.

Old-school Expense Management and Reimbursements Don’t Work – Especially for Remote Workers

For many Irish businesses, the outdated "that's how we've always done it" approach to expenses creates unique challenges for remote workers.

For example, this old-fashioned model often means:

Cash Flow Issues: Expecting remote workers to cover work-related expenses upfront creates financial strain which leads to stressed, disengaged employees and increases the risk of losing your best talent to competitors who offer better support.

Logistical Nightmares: Traditional reimbursement systems often involve clunky paper forms or even less efficient digital forms that require time-consuming manager sign-offs. This creates major delays and adds an extra layer of hassle to your remote employee’s workloads.

Workflow Interruptions: Those who deal with shared credit cards may face a barrage of 3D secure requests throughout the day, disrupting workflow and increasing susceptibility to fraudulent activity.

Budgeting Problems: Shared card balances often lead to accidental overspending in one area, leaving insufficient funds for other essential needs.

A solution to these challenges is for businesses to adopt the mindset: “out with the old, in with the new”, and waste no time switching to digital prepaid Mastercards for remote employee expense management.

Here’s why:

  • With prepaid digital cards, finance teams can proactively control spending by setting limits and category restrictions before purchases are made, eliminating reimbursement hassles and saving everyone valuable time.
  • Companies can instantly create, top up, and configure prepaid cards online, simplifying budget management and providing remote workers with the support they need when they need it.

Staff receive prepaid cards directly to their smartphones, ready for online or in-person payments with Apple Pay or Google Pay. This offers the flexibility and convenience that is crucial for remote workers, especially those abroad.

CleverCards Prepaid Digital Mastercards Streamline Remote Expenses

While remote work offers plenty of benefits, expense management issues can quickly dampen employee morale, productivity and even retention.

With prepaid digital Mastercards now emerging as the simple solution to this challenge, business leaders should consider adopting CleverCards, a tool currently being used by over 10,000 companies across Ireland.

Here’s why it is so popular:

Speeds up Reimbursements and Boosts Employee Morale

The "prepaid" model of CleverCards means fast, streamlined expenses for all. Outdated, time-consuming tasks such as chasing down receipts, manually processing reimbursements, and waiting for plastic cards to be delivered are completely eliminated, saving finance teams countless hours while giving employees the support they need at those crucial moments.

Aswell as that, employees no longer have to foot the bill and wait days or weeks for reimbursement which is particularly valuable for new remote hires or those facing unexpected work-related expenses. Plus, the CleverCards app lets employees upload receipts instantly, reducing time spent on paper-based receipts.

Simplified Processes for Everyone

Businesses new to CleverCards can be set up within 24 hours and immediately equip their remote employees with prepaid expense cards which beats waiting for traditional banks!

Once an employee receives a CleverCard, they can add it to their Apple Pay and Google Pay in minutes, giving them immediate access to the funds they need for essential purchases. So, while your finance team gets more control over expenses, your employees receive real-time financial support, wherever they are in the world.

Gain Control Over Company Spending

CleverCards puts you in the driver's seat of company spending. Think fully configurable expense cards that can be distributed with strict spending limits and category-specific restrictions (e.g., travel, accommodations, meals) and spend can be monitored through a real-time dashboard.

This means you can finally align your expense management process with your company's policies, prevent overspending before it even happens, and streamline budget control.

Adapt Quickly to Unexpected Needs

Remote work means flexibility and your expense management process should match. Whether it's a last-minute business trip, an urgent technology purchase, or a "pick-me-up" lunch incentive during a stressful week, CleverCards can be created or topped up instantly. This agility eliminates unnecessary delays and supports your employees in times of need.

For example, what if your employee’s flight to an overseas conference gets delayed and they need funds for a stopover? CleverCards can instantly cover hotels, food and taxis, resulting in your employee feeling supported and cared for, not stranded by their employer.

Watertight Security and Control

With CleverCards, you can prevent unauthorised spending by setting precise limits and category restrictions (e.g., office supplies, travel) on each card, ensuring funds are used only for approved work-related expenses.

You can even unload a CleverCard with a few clicks, stopping potential fraud losses and protecting company finances – a significant advantage for businesses with remote employees.

Transform Remote Expense Management with CleverCards

For your remote employees, CleverCards is more than a payment method; it’s a lifeline. From unexpected expenses to morale boosts, CleverCards lets you support them through thick and thin. This flexibility and dependability not only create a happy, productive remote workforce but also offer substantial advantages for the business itself.

By eliminating reimbursement delays, streamlining expense processes, and improving control over spending, CleverCards saves finance teams valuable time and resources, improves efficiency, reduces risk, and allows you to reinvest savings into further strengthening your remote work culture.

For more information on how CleverCards can help make your remote employee’s lives easier, contact our team by filling out the form below. We look forward to hearing from you soon!