Remote work continues to be a popular trend in 2022. A recent Buffer State of Remote Work report found a whopping 97 percent of employees would like to continue working remotely and would recommend it to others.
This popularity doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy to switch from the office to work from home. Certain complications are bound to arise, and streamlining payroll management in a remote environment could be one of the biggest challenges you’ll face.
You want to implement optimized payroll processing that strikes the right balance between HR and finance. Here’s a practical checklist you can adopt to facilitate a swift transition to remote work when it comes to payroll management especially if you’re using a hybrid work platform.
How To Run Payroll For A Remote Workforce?
Your remote team probably consists of local and international teams. This calls for establishing a payroll system that caters to everyone and ensures timely payments across borders.
When your company operates from a central location, and your staff travel to that location to work, figuring out things like taxes is straightforward. But when they are distributed around the globe working remotely, payroll processing becomes a little less clear. Apart from taxes, you’ll need to consider other challenges like:
- Pay frequency
Once you do, you can build a strategy-based policy around them so that they are compliant with the law.
Best Practices For A Successful Payroll Management For Remote Teams
Here’s a practical checklist you can adopt to facilitate a swift transition to remote work when it comes to payroll management.
Establish Procedures & Policies That Cover Your Entire Payroll System
The path to managing payroll in your remote team effectively starts with creating policies and procedures that govern the entire process.
Payroll can be a complex process, particularly with teams dispersed in different locations globally. Your business probably has separate systems like HR, Time & Attendance, and Payroll, and all these change as you scale.
Over time, you may need to involve more people to manage the payroll process, and this could lead to complications or errors. To avoid such predicaments, establish a manual for the payroll process that will govern everyone.
Formulate remote working policies that touch on items like how your remote workers track and report work hours, using timekeeping software, overtime, and so on.
It’s an important step that will save you from the potential payroll management issues that may arise in the future.
Consolidate Pay Dates
You may have different pay schedules depending on whether you pay your staff on an hourly, weekly, fortnightly, or monthly basis. In addition, if you have international branches, with each running local systems, it may be grounds for further complications.
While having multiple pay frequencies could be necessary for the company, it also means spending more time and effort processing payrolls. Try to find ways to reduce pay cycles, as this will help eliminate the possibility of errors and duplication of multiple processes.
Paying your personnel on the same day, regardless of the department or location, can maximize the efficiency of your payroll management system.
Be Aware Of The Risks Of Employee Misclassification
To ensure you perform payroll calculations the right way, you must fully understand how employee classification works. It is important to distinguish between independent contractors and employees when managing a remote team. You need to know the difference between full-time vs. independent contractors, as well as exempt and nonexempt employees.
In addition, you must file them all separately and keep track of the different payroll taxes you’re mandated to pay by law. Keep in mind that tax authorities may request to see how you control your contractor’s schedule, offer training, and evaluate their performance.
They can then use this information to determine the legal employment status of the worker. So, you can understand how failure to classify your remote staff correctly can result in big fines. Furthermore, it can lead you to, unintentionally, miscalculate wages and hourly pay.
Set Up Alerts For Deadlines
The last thing you want is for your reputation to be soiled by something as small as forgetting to process payroll on time. Delayed payments can negatively affect employee satisfaction and engagement.
To avoid such mistakes, set up reminders and notifications for deadlines of all important tasks related to payroll. This includes due dates for taxes and paydays for each of your employees.
Even better, create a backup plan for remote payroll management. Clearly document in your business continuity plan, how your staff will get paid when you’re unable to process payroll on time. For example, you could organize with your bank to have payments processed based on the previous month’s salary.
Ensure Your Organization Is Compliant With All The Appropriate Employment Rules & Regulations
As an employer, you’re probably aware of the fickle employment rules and regulations. That’s why it’s critical to stay updated with the compliance laws governing workers. Staying informed about compliance laws governing workers is not only crucial for avoiding potential fines, legal fees, and safeguarding your company’s reputation but also for maximizing available benefits, such as the Employee Retention Tax Credit, which can significantly contribute to cost-effective and compliant workforce management.
Payroll tax filing is compulsory. Failing to submit salary taxes or doing so erroneously can lead to penalties or even lawsuits. To avoid this, make sure to:
- Establish internal controls to help you meet compliance regulations, identify priorities, and, generally, minimize risks and errors.
- Find resources to help you keep up to date with trends and upcoming changes.
- Encourage employees to keep up to date with statutory regulations. Giving the entire team the responsibility to monitor government updates on payroll will help the business maintain a clean compliance record.
Manage Employees’ Leave & Attendance
Accurately collecting employee leave and attendance data is another key area of managing payroll for your remote teams. Obviously, you want to know the earnings of each worker based on days or hours worked, as well as overtime.
The best way forward is to collect time and attendance records in real-time. One reliable tool you can implement to help capture accurate employee data, including logged hours and attendance, is a time tracker. Such tools provide up-to-the-minute attendance data you need, along with regular and overtime hours. You can also integrate your HR software with the payroll software to manage resources related to your employees.
Some even go further to provide insights into how each team member spends their time. A small company wouldn’t want to exceed its budget limits, and a big company wouldn’t want to lose track of the team members’ hours.
Therefore, choose a time tracking software that automatically captures clock in and clock out times of workers and is scalable to accommodate company growth.
Facilitate Cross-Functional Collaboration
The payroll process involves the inputs of multiple teams, and for it to be successful, teams need to work together. In a remote work setup, face-to-face communication is no longer an option. The next closest thing is to leverage technology that facilitates the HR, payroll, and finance staff to collaborate effectively, wherever they are.
Your best approach is to establish a group communication channel for the involved departments to centralize communication. That way, they can all be on the same page and fast-track working on issues or complications.
You might also consider cross-training your payroll staff so that the task isn’t dependent on one person. Doing so empowers them to undertake multiple tasks and be able to support each other, further streamlining the process.
Implement An Effective Payroll Management Software
If you’ve transitioned to or are planning to switch to remote work, it’s imperative to adopt the payroll department to the digital environment. That means switching to an online payroll management system. Such a system enables the concerned teams to access data from anywhere, make changes and collaborate in real-time.
One of the biggest advantages of introducing payroll software is automation. Repetitive activities like accounting for payroll expenses, distributing payslips and tax worksheets, and generating reports can be automated.
A payroll management system can incredibly improve your daily payroll operations and simplify inter-departmental collaboration, thereby eliminating time wastage and the possibility of errors.
Most importantly, implement a payroll management system that can quickly adapt to the ever-changing tax laws and employment regulations.
Consider Outsourcing Payroll
Sometimes, there may arise a need to outsource certain payroll tasks to external parties to handle some burdens on your behalf. This doesn’t make you less of an incredible payroll manager. Rather, it will save you the time and effort you’d have spent navigating multiple languages, currencies, time zones, and regulations.
Young companies can save significantly by outsourcing payroll to a third-party service provider. They won’t incur the additional cost of hiring a dedicated team to manage payroll or invest in expensive payroll management systems.
The best part about outsourcing is that you’ll avoid the complexities of payroll laws that are always changing. Not to mention, it will allow you to focus on the core business and identify ways to boost productivity.
It’s Time To Implement A Sound Remote Payroll Management System
Remote work is here to stay and it’s up to you to establish a future-proof strategy to manage payroll for your remote teams. Leverage technology and stay up to date with all the changes in government regulations.
Employees need assurances that their efforts will be well compensated. By ensuring timely and accurate payments, you’ll have a team of happy remote employees, who in turn, will drive success in your company.