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October 14, 2020
4 minute read

Life hacks: Why remote finance teams love virtual cards.

Written by Laura Slauson
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The sudden shift to working remotely in the spring of 2020 is perhaps the biggest disrupter to the workplace in modern memory. One Global Workplace Analytics survey found that an astounding 97% of all U.S. office employees have worked at home at some time during the COVID-19 pandemic. Along the way, many of us have discovered some benefits to remote work: a more comfortable wardrobe, lower commuting costs, becoming familiar with co-workers’ cats as they saunter through Zoom meetings.

However, the transition to remote work has also introduced new challenges to finance teams, particularly with regards to managing employee spend from a distance. Fortunately, many have discovered solutions to help them adapt.

Let’s take a look at how virtual cards empower finance teams with visibility and control over spend in the era of remote working, by comparing how finance functions used to be handled to how they can be handled remotely today.

Then: A salesperson wants to take their favorite client out for lunch, so you hand over the corporate card and say a silent prayer that they will remember to give it back before the next person needs it.

Now: A salesperson wants to deliver lunch to their best client during a Zoom meeting, so you create a one-time virtual card for the client to order through UberEats. The entire process of creating the card takes just a few minutes, and the client is impressed by your team’s creativity. Plus, you don’t have to worry about the card going astray, since it can only be used online and for this specific purpose.

Then: You overhear your co-workers a few feet away talking about a great new software program they just subscribed to. Funny story: You also have a subscription! But nobody is laughing when you realize the company is paying twice for the same service.

Now: You read about a great new software package that will help you be more efficient while working remotely, so you decide to purchase a subscription and charge it to the company. But as you create the expense request, you discover your company already subscribes, and with enough seats for you to use it too. Spending crisis averted.

Then: You’re not entirely sure why the engineering department manager categorized an expense under Sales, so you send her an email. But she’s away at a conference, so you don’t hear back for days, despite repeated reminders. You start to feel like a nag.

Now: Traveling to conferences feels like a distant memory. But so does the need to resolve incorrect expanse categorizations, since your new spend management system automatically categorizes all requests as they are created. You no longer have to track down employees to nag them – and you don’t miss that one bit.

Then: An employee submits a receipt for a new office chair and it’s way over the allotted amount for office furniture. They’ve been sitting on it for four weeks already, so it can’t be returned. An awkward conversation follows.

Now: Your company decides that it will buy ergonomic new chairs for all remote employees. You create virtual cards for the allotted amount. Before the chairs are purchased, you know that your office furniture budget won’t be exceeded since approvals happen before the money is spent, and the cards are only good for that amount.

Then: Sales have slowed. You know it’s just a temporary blip, but you’re going to have to tighten the budget a bit. You want to cut back on marketing spend for the rest of the month, but you won’t know exactly how much until the team submits all of their receipts.

Now: Your new spend management system lets you know exactly where the budget stands in real time. With just a few clicks, you can adjust approval levels and spend limits to control spend. Team compliance reaches new heights, and employees appreciate the consistency and transparency of the budget adjustments.

Then: It’s time to do your monthly close. You cancel any social commitments and plan to stay late at the office all week.

Now: In one sense, you’re always at the office now because you work at home. But the good news is that the monthly close now requires significantly less time. Ironically, it’s actually easier now to find that elusive work-life balance.

Then: A team member’s laptop dies. Your internal tech support determines it’s a hardware problem, so they send it off to the manufacturer. All is good until you discover during the month-end close that your company was accidentally charged twice for the repair work.

Now: A co-worker’s laptop goes dark. Without access to internal tech support at home, she sends it off to the manufacturer right away. A few days later, she receives a notification that the one-time virtual card she created has turned down a second charge because its predetermined limit had been exceeded. She correctly figures out that she was accidentally charged twice, and a quick call clears it up. In fact, the finance team never hears about it at all.

When they’re part of a comprehensive spend management system, virtual cards can give finance teams the insight into team spending that they need when working remotely. If you’d like to discover more benefits to virtual cards, schedule a demo with us!


To learn more about Airbase, contact us for a product demo.
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