The way organizations get work done shifted dramatically with the COVID-19 pandemic. Entire organizations are morphing into newly distributed mobile teams with unique needs for in-person gatherings and meetings. These news teams create new business travelers, activating a shift in the role business travel plays in organizations. Now, it’s not just a handful of “road warriors” who might create compliance risks, it’s potentially your entire mobile organization.
As organizations prepare for new workforce policies in 2022, we may see more mobile employees than ever before. Big changes have affected the movement of employees across borders in the form of Brexit, Posted Workers regulations, new local taxes in major cities around the globe, and countries and states worldwide looking to recoup lost revenues by ensuring appropriate taxes are being paid by businesses and individuals performing work in their jurisdictions. To manage the increased risk that comes with so many employees moving and working across borders much more frequently, organizations need a solution that keeps them compliant without introducing another burden or barrier to getting work done.
How do I know where my employees are working?
Remaining compliant starts by answering a few questions:
- Where are my employees working today?
- Where will they be working?
- How long have they been working in a given location?
- What type of work are/will they be performing?
The answers to these few questions – alone or combined – affect nearly every potential compliance obligation, ranging from payroll tax withholding to the Schengen 90-/180-day rule to the need for A1 certificates. Organizations need accurate up-to-date visibility into their global employee footprint in order to protect their business and employees from potential fines, reputational damage, or even imprisonment.
Topia takes compliance management digital
The days of compiling of business travel calendars, collecting receipts, and sending all that information to be processed by HR or payroll are thankfully in the past. Performing compliance management at scale requires a platform that eliminates manual processes and requiring individuals to self-report where they’ve been working or where they want to work. Tracking who has requested remote work approval via email and spreadsheets can quickly become overly burdensome. Reverse engineering where employees have been from calendars, flights, receipts, etc. is time-consuming, prone to errors, and doesn’t provide the all-important real-time employee footprint information.
Organizations need a dedicated compliance platform that can determine employee working location automatically from a variety of sources, including travel management providers like BCD to active jurisdiction monitoring via mobile and laptop apps. It needs to proactively determine if employee movement would have tax or immigration implications. It also should be able to interpret and feed that information to required systems and services such as payroll, immigration providers, or tax firms streamlining the work of HR and finance teams.
What about employee privacy and security?
If there’s one thing employees hate, it’s big brother watching over them. According to Topia research, “Being empowered and trusted to do my job with little supervision” is tied for the most important element in defining exceptional employee experiences.
Any compliance management system that helps monitor working location must balance the need to monitor accurate employee working location without being intrusive to employee privacy. In many countries, a solution that monitors employee working location would require worker’s council approval, so ensuring that you’re taking these elements into consideration is crucial. Thankfully, over 90% of employees are comfortable with employers knowing their working location at a country, state, and city level. And as many employees are now pushing for permanent remote and hybrid working options, providing working location seems to be a fair tradeoff for more freedom to work anywhere.
When should I look to implement a compliance management system?
Now. These compliance concerns aren’t on the horizon, coming in months or years. They’re happening today and you may already be behind. Topia research found that only one-third of employees reported all days spent working outside their home state/country during the pandemic. In analyzing 30 organizations’ business travel programs, Topia found that even a business travel program with 350 unique business travelers had half a million dollars (USD) in tax exposure and failed to properly allocate over $4M in compensation. While many countries relaxed enforcement of tax and immigration rules during the pandemic, they may enforce new and existing regulations with fervor now that employees are back where they should be.
Traveler health & safety
Beyond compliance, knowing where employees are working is important for health and safety. At the beginning of the pandemic, many HR teams were in a mad dash to confirm traveler safety and assist the disrupted. A dedicated compliance management system lets organizations move away from worrying about where they’re doing business and instead focus on engaging their teams and delivering results.
Topia addresses compliance challenges for organizations of all shapes and sizes
Topia, a SolutionSource marketplace partner, is the leader in Global Talent Mobility. They empower enterprise HR teams to deploy, manage, and engage employees anywhere in the world. The Topia Global Talent Mobility platform enables businesses to deliver mobility as part of a broader talent and business strategy with enhanced employee experiences.
Guest blogger Nishant Mittal, SVP, Distributed Workforce & Business Travel at Topia, is responsible for strategy and growth. Nishant joined Topia as part of its acquisition of Monaeo, a technology company he co-founded and led. Nishant brings extensive experience in Business Travel Analytics and extensive change management experience working with Fortune 500 companies during his tenure at McKinsey & Co. and General Atlantic.