New benefit makes expensing internet access and office supplies easy

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As the demand for more remote-friendly policies for companies increases, employers need to look at tools that support remote work to ensure that workers are just as productive and successful at home as they are in an office.

TravelBank, an all-in-one expense and travel solution to manage business spend, is introducing a new work from home feature that allows companies to easily set a customized expense policy for the supplies employees need to set up a home office, like monitors and chairs.

Duke Chung, founder and CEO of TravelBank, says that demand for expense solutions is increasing, as companies adjust their policies and communication strategies around their employee reimbursement programs.

“Before the pandemic, you may have been able to go to your finance team in the office if you had any questions about your expense report, or if the finance team had any questions about it,” Chung says. “[What was] done face-to-face in the office isn’t as easily possible now. So being able to have a system to track that is becoming more important for companies, especially in a time like this for work from home.”

Seventy percent of companies did not have an expense solution pre-pandemic, and Chung says he saw a sudden spike in the demand over the last several months for TravelBank. His platform does expense and travel solutions for small and medium-sized businesses and their employees. TravelBank’s algorithm predicts travel costs based on real-time pricing, allows users to track expenses and has a rewards program that incentivizes employees to save money on corporate travel when they book more cost-effective options via the platform.

More employees are now expensing things like equipment, technology, monitors and ergonomic chairs, Chung says. Even things like internet access, which was provided by the company for employees to access in the office before the pandemic, are now falling under expensable costs.

“A lot of spend that has historically been in office expenses are now essentially democratized to the employee level working from home,” he says. “Today, everyone who’s working from home is clearly on their own, and companies are now changing expense policies and adding internet access and other things that help increase productivity for the employee.”

TravelBank has also made new work-from-home additions to its marketplace, which lists the company’s partner services. Employers can now offer their employees apps like Calm, FitTrack, Krisp, Skyroam, Sonos, and UrbanStems, to help make working from home more effective and convenient.

“For our marketplace, we really focus on curating the services that we believe can provide value in a work-from-home experience,” Chung says. “Some of the things that are currently trending are yoga and fitness services, coffee services, plants, and some companies are even allowing their employees to purchase groceries.”

Chung says every company has a different strategy and approach when it comes to expense policies for remote work, with some companies having a monthly work-from-home expense budget. At TravelBank, employees are offered $150 a month that they can use to improve their productivity and work-from-home experience. They can purchase services off the company’s marketplace, buy home office supplies, or use the money to buy lunch or a cup of coffee.

Employers will need to consider how to cultivate employee culture both during and after the pandemic, Chung says.

“[Employers are] trying to recreate those experiences now that the employees are at home. So it really is an interesting time because a lot of companies feel like this is something that they may need to continue doing in a post-pandemic recovery as well. Setting up that foundation now is becoming really important.”

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