Distributed Workforce Demands Integrated Travel Solution

By The Center Team on February 15, 2024

No question, work has transformed over the past few years. Remote work is now commonplace, business travel has resumed, and companies everywhere manage hybrid teams spread across multiple locations. With employees on the move and travel spend increasing, businesses need tools that can integrate a positive employee experience into a controlled and compliant process for finance teams.

We asked 200+ US finance leaders from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) about their experience with travel and expense management tools to learn how organizations are adapting to distributed workforces. Our 2024 Annual Trends Survey Report reveals that if companies want to reduce leakage in today’s flexible work reality, they must consider the employee experience and take advantage of software that improves control over business and travel spend.

Leakage is a Leading Concern

It’s no surprise that as business travel picks up, so does spending. Yet, without a solution that integrates policy in place, travel is inclined toward non-compliance. Employees are opting to book off-platform more often, suggesting that employees want the same sort of consumer-grade experience when booking corporate travel. This leaves finance teams with limited visibility over employee trips and expenses. In fact, nearly two-thirds (64%) of SMEs reported leakage, a concerning uptick from last year’s 57%.

When business travel purchasing happens off-platform, a variety of things go unchecked. Preferred vendors aren’t prioritized, policies aren’t likely to be adhered to, leading higher costs. Additionally, it makes it harder for companies to track employee spend, enforce travel policies, and ensure duty of care for their employees.

Travel Policies are an Essential First Step

To try and fix leakage, many companies are reconsidering their policies. In fact, 51% of SMEs revamped their travel and expense (T&E) policies to keep pace with the hybrid work model, and 20% charted this territory for the first time last year.

T&E policies are essential for modern organizations to:

  • Establish a source of truth
  • Create consistency to make enforcement easier
  • Increase productivity by reducing unnecessary communications

A well-documented policy that focuses on key T&E categories, paired with employee education and awareness, can increase compliance and allow for better cost control. However, though essential, leakage cannot be fixed by policy alone. Finance teams wanting enhanced visibility and compliance need software that automates policy into the process. The kicker? This all hinges on having modern expense management tools that employees will actually use.

Employee Experience + Policy = Improved Compliance

Many travel management systems are cumbersome and a thorn in the side of compliance and satisfaction. There is a great opportunity to adopt software that integrates policy and supports a positive user experience (and thus, reduces or eliminates leakage). The data reflects this: nearly 60% of employees are open to a new travel solution that integrates travel, expense, and card management to improve the overall experience.

The Future of Business Spend and Travel is Integrated

Business leaders and finance teams need intelligent solutions that can weave travel, expense, and card management—including policy—together. And, employees need simple-to-use software that encourages adoption through a favorable experience. Companies that choose the right integrated travel and expense software can achieve control over costs and budgets.

View Center’s 2024 Annual Trends Survey Report to explore more insights on the evolving practices of expense management.