As hybrid workforce arrangements gain popularity, payroll professionals may find themselves uniquely qualified to champion a mobile workforce plan, a payroll manager said May 10.
“The pandemic has forced employers to embrace a flexible workplace,” said Iggy Svoboda, CPP, Senior Manager of Payroll and Mobility for Clif Bar and Company. There are greater risks for employers now when employees work across state lines: state agencies have sharpened their focus on mobile workforce compliance, she said.
The payroll department is often the first to know that a mobility program is needed, Svoboda said during the American Payroll Association’s 40th Payroll Congress in Las Vegas. She encouraged payroll professionals to take advantage of the opportunity to improve compliance strategies.
Recording and analyzing hybrid workforce data builds a solid case for launching a program, Svoboda said.
Payroll professionals in the early stages of developing a mobility program should keep a spreadsheet of any situations that arise that involve remote work and traveling employees, Svoboda said.
“You’re going to learn about mobility instances in places you didn’t realize,” Svoboda said. “Log those so you can keep track of all the different scenarios in which people are working flexibly. Eventually, you’ll have a story just from those logs.”
As the list of scenarios grows, start to identify trends, such as which job roles have more instances of mobile work, the reasons for working while traveling, and locations that are frequently visited, Svoboda said. “Could it be all different levels of jobs? Or could it be a new job that was never working flexibly before and it’s now on the move?”
After recording enough cases to substantiate the need for a mobility program, the log should be discussed with others who might be affected by mobility matters—especially colleagues outside of the payroll department, Svoboda said. There will likely be subject matter experts within the company who can provide insight, she said.
There may also be colleagues who would benefit from heightened awareness of workforce mobility issues, Svoboda said. Many roles involve or oversee employee travel and remote work, but not everyone may be aware of compliance issues that remote work can trigger, she said.
Other existing data sources can enhance mobility analysis, Svoboda said. For example, the IT department may already have some location data and information about system logins, which can help track employees, she said.
Svoboda noted that it may be more desirable to encourage employees to self-disclose when they change work locations—possibly on their time cards—to avoid apprehension about surveillance. Employees may consider location data to be particularly sensitive information, so employers should be upfront about how data is obtained and what it will be used for, she said.
Data analysis should remain an integral part of maintaining a mobility program once it has been launched, Svoboda said. Mobility managers need to be able to identify missing data that, if obtained, would paint a more clear picture of employee remote work and travel.
Payroll professionals should prepare mobility plans before the next major industry development requires attention, Svoboda said.
“It’s important to get after mobility right now because your future will include more compliance issues,” Svoboda said, “The future is moving fast.”