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New AppZen Expense Reimbursement Survey Reveals Impact of COVID and Remote Work on Employees

Data shows more employees are expensing during the pandemic but also reveals disparities in the expense report process based on roles and gender

New data released today by AppZen, the world’s leading AI solution for modern finance teams, reveals how the pandemic and remote work have impacted company expense reports. The findings shed new light on shifts in expenses during the pandemic and uncovers differences in reimbursements based on genders and roles.

“The data shows it’s in the best interest for companies to have clear policies and proactively communicate them effectively to their employees so there are no inconsistencies or perceived disparities in how companies are handling employee expenses.”

Surveying 1,000 workers of companies with at least 250 employees, the data provides insight into how companies have adapted new expense policies and how those changes have impacted employees.

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Remote Work Policies

AppZen’s research shows the drastic shift from office to home working and the importance of clearly stated policies. 17 percent worked remotely prior to COVID, spiking to 83 percent during the pandemic.

  • 75 percent of employees submitted work from home expenses during the pandemic versus 69 percent of employees who submitted expenses pre-COVID.
  • 51 percent of employees said their employer updated their expense policy due to COVID.
  • 92 percent of employees whose employers updated their expense policy due to COVID said their organization’s policy was clear, compared to only 61 percent of employees whose employers did not update their policy.
  • 83 percent of employees who received an updated policy said their employer fairly compensates them for work from home-related expenses compared to only 29 percent of employees at companies where the policy was not updated due to COVID.

Changing Expense Reports

The volume of work from home expenses grew with the arrival of COVID. But what did employees ask employers to cover?

  • Claims for internet usage at home rose 6 percent.
  • 46 percent of companies are reimbursing for internet during COVID.
  • Only 29 percent of employees feel they are fairly compensated for new types of work from home expenses – such as childcare.
  • 26 percent of employees say they feel uncomfortable about claiming these types of expenses.

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Disparities with Positions and Gender

AppZen data also shows differences among executives and non-executives in the expense report process and a gender divide.

  • Women are less likely (59 percent) than men (80 percent) to feel fairly reimbursed for work from home-related expenses.
  • The C-suite and company executives are more likely to have company credit cards and expense accounts while the majority of employees are reimbursed for work-related expenses paid for with their own money.
  • The COVID lockdown had a disproportionate effect on the shift to work from home on specific jobs and roles. 42 percent of business owners/business partners and 37 percent of sales managers worked from home prior to the COVID lockdown.

“We are all experiencing changes to working habits in 2020 and that has had a clear impact on company expenses,” said Anant Kale, CEO of AppZen. “The data shows it’s in the best interest for companies to have clear policies and proactively communicate them effectively to their employees so there are no inconsistencies or perceived disparities in how companies are handling employee expenses.”

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