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How to Minimize Spend Risk During the Global Pandemic

on April 13, 2020

How are companies and organizations adapting to challenges stemming from this global pandemic? For many, the coronavirus outbreak resulted in a sharp increase in remote work. This is a substantial operational shift for those companies that typically do not have employees working from home.

Prior to the pandemic, less than 20% of employees were remote. Today, approximately 50% are making the swing to a remote workforce.

As part of this adjustment, employees are furnishing their remote workplaces and purchasing items that would typically be found in their regular offices – items like monitors, HDMI cords, batteries, etc.

According to a recent survey conducted by Oversight, 55% of employees who are now working from home purchased supplies and equipment to support their remote work needs. Of the employees that are making these purchases, 70% spent less than $150 to establish a work from home environment, meaning the remaining 30% spent more than $150. Bigger purchases of more than $500 were limited (8%), but these items could make a significant impact on an organization’s financial stability if left unchecked.

Some of these employees may not typically make work-related purchases, meaning they may lack expense policy training. Beyond just limited exposure to spending policies, these employees may not have a corporate card, making policy training and knowledge of the reimbursement process all the more critical.

Oversight’s survey found that more than half of the employees (58%) who have made work from home purchases used a personal card for their expenses. The second most popular method for purchasing was a corporate card (20%), followed by submitting a request to a manager (16%). The least common pathway to make purchases was the company’s online catalog (4%) and procurement (2%).

To minimize the chance of fraud and risk associated with these purchases, especially at a time when decreasing spend is critical for most organizations, finance teams should formulate strategies to provide employees with the appropriate policy training. This is particularly important for personal card usage as it’s difficult to determine if purchases are within policy guidelines due to limited visibility into transaction data.

As companies, and their employees, continue to adjust to COVID-19’s impact, mitigating spend risk is critical. With insights into spend, teams can analyze transactions and adapt policies to meet the needs of their current operational standard. In fact, Oversight is seeing companies create COVID-19 expense types to capture these costs and estimate the budgetary impact. Organizations should continuously monitor and evaluate employee spend to promote organizational efficiency and minimize business risk.

Learn more about the changes companies can make to manage emerging and risks and ensure business continuity in our recent perspective, “COVID-19 & Employee Spend: 5 Changes to Plan for Now.”

Jill Winkler

Jill Winkler is the Product Marketing Manager at Oversight.