Scrolling the 9/11 tributes in my social media and news feeds this past weekend served as an excellent reminder of how we all can bounce back from great difficulties. And the reminder seems especially poignant now as our nation (and Birmingham business owners like you) continue to recover from the economic fallout of the last two years.
Couple that with the passing away of Queen Elizabeth (7 decades of monarchy and one approach to ruling) and you have continuing signposts pointing to the shifting sands under our feet … and the demand to find new ways of doing things.
As we had to adopt new practices post 9/11, so do we have to continue to adopt new realities post-pandemic.
Among them: embracing and accommodating remote workers, both in your hiring and in your offerings to your current employees. The 5-day-a-week, 40-hours-in-an-office way of doing things is becoming less palatable in a world of more flexible work schedules and settings.
So today, I want to examine the ways you can embrace this reality (if you haven’t already) and use it to your advantage.
A brief note:
There’s only one quarter left in 2022.
But, there is still time to make positive moves to save your Birmingham business on its taxes – and, of course, on your personal return as well, for THIS year.
But, in the same way that good athletes get better in the fourth quarter of their games because they’ve done the advanced conditioning work to get there, saving on your taxes only comes through planning (and execution, obviously).
So, let’s sit down and make a game plan for the rest of the year, and think ahead to next year, so you’re even stronger when 2023’s Q4 is here:
Alright then – time to dive into some best practices for managing remote employees, so you can continue to flourish while the sands shift.
Randall M. Hancock CPA, PC’s Guide to Successfully Managing Remote Employees
“I felt a tremendous distance between myself and everything real.” – Hunter Thompson
If the pandemic taught us business owners anything, it’s that employees don’t always have to work in the office. Many operations leverage that concept these days, and it could be a great move to help your company grow.
But handling employees who work remotely requires you to think about a lot of new things, from how they’re going to talk to each other to how you’re going to handle a new and evolving tax situation.
So, here’s a little guide to help you with successfully managing remote employees in your business.
Managing Remote Employees Tip #1: Making a connection
Once upon a time, the phone was the only real method of quickly connecting other than in-person conversation. That reality is no more. By now, everybody has learned at least a little bit about the once sci-fi art of videoconferencing. Aside from glitchy internet moments or your cat getting into the frame, the concept has worked well for many companies over the past few years. When working with remote employees, videoconferencing is a must.
Zoom has become the new “Xerox,” a technology brand name so widely used that it’s evolved into a verb. It is a standard tool for videoconferencing, free to get, and easily hosts multi-user meetings on your laptop. There are similar tools, too, like GoToMeeting, Google Meet, and (for a fee) Join.me. Whichever platform you use, make video meetings as regular as you would in-person. Keep them brief and to the point – we all spend enough time looking at our screens these days – but don’t be afraid to throw in a joke or a trivia game to keep folks engaged. Useful topics can also include how to set up a home office, which is still a new skill for some workers.
Also, don’t forget those pesky time zones! It’s one thing to expect someone’s face to show up on your screen for a 10 a.m. meeting if they’re an hour ahead or behind you but quite another if they live on the opposite coast or overseas.
For those times when you don’t need a thousand words to replace a picture, instant messaging is a quick way to chat and share docs with one employee or a whole group. Well-known messaging tools are Slack and Microsoft Teams, though there are many others.
Managing Remote Employees Tip #2: The same but different
A virtual staff begins just like an in-person one does. You must attract workers, and that starts with a job description.
A job description for a virtual position has to be a lot clearer upfront about many details that might never even appear in the description for a non-virtual position. If you expect people to be ready to meet at 9 a.m. or if you expect them to come into the office periodically, make that clear first thing.
Remote recruiting also brings your online presence under scrutiny. Make sure your company website and social media profiles are what you want to attract talent. It wouldn’t hurt to add positive info about your staff and work environment.
While we’re on the subject, know that remote work options remain a strong draw for candidates and a solid retention tool for your staff. If you’ve become one of the growing number of business owners who are sold on this way of operating, make sure staffers know that – they might not be sure, otherwise.
Managing Remote Employees Tip #3: Hard numbers
Remote employees dividing their time between more than one state can complicate unemployment and taxes.
Unemployment is the simpler of the two: Your company pays state unemployment tax to only one state, and that’s where the employee will collect the benefits. Generally, determining which state to pay includes assessing whether the work is done all in one state, where the base of operations is, and the location where your worker gets supervision. If none of those apply, the unemployment state is the residence state of the employee.
The state income tax situation for employees is much more complicated right now.
A recent survey showed that three out of four states believe that just a few employees working in a state is enough to justify hitting them with income tax. Especially thorny are the states with “convenience of employer” rules. Right now, that’s Arkansas, Delaware, Nebraska, New York, and Pennsylvania. Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Jersey have similar rules. We definitely don’t know what’s convenient about it for employees or employers. The rule basically means employees living in a state different from you (the employer) may have to pay income taxes in both states. A lot of companies are shying away from hiring in those states.
Until this gets sorted out, a rule of thumb is that to be a resident of a state, you have to spend at least 183 days of the year there.
Don’t be discouraged, though. Remote workers can be a great asset to your company as long as you dot your i’s along the way.
Truly, even with all that is involved in taking on remote employees, making space for that in your Birmingham company opens a lot of doors to gaining the right kind of workers on your team. A little (maybe more) effort now means great opportunity looking ahead.
And that’s something we at Randall M. Hancock CPA, PC are here for.
Helping your business move forward,
Randall M. Hancock CPA, PC