How Virtual Cards Help Overcome the Challenges of Remote Work By Sarah Murphy July 26, 2022 Between modern technology and COVID-19, the way we work has changed massively in the last few years. With many teams switching to permanent remote work or hybrid work arrangements, businesses have had to change the way they operate day-to-day. Gone are the days of sharing physical cards around the office to cover expenses like software, equipment, office supplies and refreshments for meetings. With fewer employees sharing space with their colleagues, business expense management has changed too. Luckily, virtual cards present a useful alternative to traditional corporate cards, expense reports and reimbursements. Let’s dig into a few ways virtual cards can help your team remain on budget, save money and overcome the challenges of remote work. What Are the Challenges of Remote Work? When it comes to business expense management, remote work poses some unique challenges. Here are a few examples of new challenges presented by remote work. Card Sharing Because they are no longer sharing a physical space, employees are unable to share physical corporate credit cards with each other. Traditionally, this was common practice between multiple team members who share a budget but don’t have a designated person to make all purchases. Work from Home Budgets Employees may be allocated a work from home budget for equipment such as desks, chairs, computers, etc. — the amenities that would typically be offered in an office setting. Because this equipment will be in their own home, they will want to be involved in the purchasing process to ensure the right size, look, and delivery schedule. A traditional corporate card won’t cut it here, as many individuals need to be able to purchase the equipment that is right for their home and job. Additional On-Site Events On-site team-building and social activities may become more frequent when employees aren’t together in an office space on a regular basis. But remote-first companies may not still have office space and supplies to host these events. In-person events and meetings can require a lot of different expenses handled by different people — like venue rentals, refreshments, training materials, and other costs. With these situations created by remote work, companies will have to adjust to meet employees’ new needs. Virtual cards are a great way to keep your team organized and on budget. How Do Virtual Employee Company Cards Work? Virtual cards can be issued to individual employees or departments, empowering them to make purchases with company funds. Unlike traditional corporate cards, however, these can be used online, in a digital wallet, or in conjunction with a physical Plug & Pay card. Virtual cards are generated with all of the information required to make payments, but they can also be easily customized by amount, vendor or expiry date. For example, if an employee requires a new pair of headphones, a manager can issue them a virtual card loaded with the maximum amount they are permitted to spend. The card will be declined if the employee tries to spend more. There are also options to lock the card to a vendor if you want equipment ordered from a particular company, and to create expiry dates so the company funds aren’t floating in limbo for eternity. What Are the Benefits of Virtual Employee Company Cards? Virtual cards for employees can help teams work faster, ensure extra security and give finance teams better control over business spending. Save Time Virtual cards save time upfront by eliminating the need to track down physical cards and exchange them between employees, then calling or emailing managers for purchase approvals. A simple virtual card request contains the necessary information about purchases and managers can immediately approve, alter or deny requests to ensure that spending remains on budget. Virtual cards also save plenty of time for the finance department by automatically categorizing business purchases, as well as recording transactions and receipts to sync with the company’s ERP. Increase Security Virtual cards eliminate the risk of misplacing a physical card — or worse, having it stolen. A system like Mesh Payments issues virtual cards and provides automatic notifications when card requests are made or when purchases need approval. Plus, the platform offers full visibility, making it easy to spot suspicious activity immediately, instead of waiting until month-end and discovering fraudulent corporate card charges. Improve Control Virtual cards allow budget owners to control who has access to company funds, how much they are able to spend, and can even control where and when the funds can be spent. Tips for Using Virtual Cards for Remote Workers Before implementing virtual cards, consider these tips to ensure that best practices are being followed. 1. Establish and Enforce an Expense Policy Regardless of your corporate spending system, companies should all have an expense policy in place. When selecting virtual cards, opt for a provider that is able to automatically incorporate and enforce the expense policy. This way, purchases that are outside of approved amounts or vendors will be automatically declined and you can further investigate the situation. 2. Lock Virtual Cards to Vendors For recurring expenses like software spend, create a virtual card that locks to a single vendor. You can rest assured that the funds on the card will not be spent on any other expenses, and you’ll never have to worry about missing a monthly payment. This also makes it easy to identify any unusual changes or duplicate charges. 3. Embrace Flexibility with One-Time Use Cards For other expenses like a celebratory lunch or replacing a desk chair, one-time use cards can be extremely useful. They can be preloaded with the budgeted amount, locked to a vendor, and set to expire within a short time frame (i.e. ensuring employees purchase their lunch within a week of their birthday). 4. Use Virtual Cards for Team Building Virtual cards are a great tool for encouraging team building in a remote world. To make up for the lack of in-person office socialization, you could assign a virtual card to every employee and match them with a colleague who they have to buy a meal or a gift for. Or, as previously mentioned, in-person meetings can be easily organized with virtual cards used to pay for everything from employee travel to venue rental to refreshments. 5. Get Cash Back In addition to helping you control your corporate spending, virtual cards can also earn you extra money with cash back incentives. To learn more about how Mesh Payments can help you manage your remote team and control corporate spending with virtual cards, schedule a demo. Get the latest blogs from Mesh by subscribing to our newsletter Manage Your Payments With Full Control & Visibility Get Started Sarah Murphy Sarah is a Content Manager for Mesh Payments. Before working in marketing, she completed her Master of Journalism degree at Toronto Metropolitan University (f.k.a. Ryerson University) and worked as an arts journalist in Toronto. She was a content writer for tech companies in the retail and workforce management sectors before joining Mesh in 2022.