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Working from anywhere: the secret lives of employees, according to new research

Working from anywhere: the secret lives of employees, according to new research

Employee EngagementTop Stories

New research from SAP Concur reveals the extent to which UK employees are working from anywhere (WFA) without telling their employer, with the majority (54%) agreeing it would be easy for them to incorrectly report the number of days that they work abroad. 

Like other behaviours – expense fraud for example – this seems to be well known to violate rules but still perceived as socially broadly acceptable. This could well be due to a knowledge gap regarding the implications of WFA secretly as 10% of employees are concerned about penalties for themselves or their employer because they unconsciously neglected tax regulations whilst WFA, for example.  

Employees that WFA without telling their employer are tactically covering their tracks, with nearly two in five (36%) admitting they avoid social media activity to hide their location to colleagues. Almost half (44%) admit to applying a virtual background to cover up their real location, and a third (32%) work unsociable hours to account for time zone differences. 

Key findings from the survey of 835 HR decision-makers, 835 finance decision-makers and 1,670 employees: 

  • More than half (59%) of employees would be willing to accept a reduction in salary to be able to permanently work from anywhere
  • Forty-six percent cite WFA as a key perk in the workplace, with it ranked above other core benefits such as pension contributions (27%)
  • With its value clear, employees are already doing it on the sly as over one in three (36%) – the highest globally (with second place at 28%) – employees have knowingly WFA (i.e. remotely from a different country) without telling their employer over the past 12 months
  • Six days is the average number of days that employees have knowingly WFA in the past year without telling their employer

What can be done? 

  • Employees have a good understanding of their company’s WFA policies, as 65% of employees understand how often they are allowed to work remotely from anywhere, and the same number understand what they can and can’t expense whilst working remotely from anywhere
  • Seventy percent of employees understand how they should be reporting the number of days they work remotely from abroad
  • However, there is a gap in employee knowledge around the tax implications – with only 10% of employees considering penalties for themselves or their employer because they unconsciously neglected tax regulations whilst WFA as a top risk.   
  • Leaders are far more concerned – with 71% of finance leaders concerned about employees WFA due to tax implications
  • Leaders strongly feel that adjusted business processes and better expense management technology are required to allow employees to feasibly WFA, with most HR leaders (66%) believing they need to roll out more training to make it feasible. 
  • Sixty-seven percent of finance leaders believe they would need to make significant changes to finance processes (e.g., tax and compliance) within the business to make WFA feasible.
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