Love flexibility? Take these steps to go remote for good
Recently, I asked my LinkedIn audience of business owners to share which permanent post-pandemic change they were most excited about. Overwhelmingly, the answer was flexibility.
You love the video meetings. You love finding the right people for your team, no matter where they are. You love the expanded universe of networking. You love the idea of working from beaches and castles and the far reaches of the earth.
And the best news: by embracing flexible work, you’re in the best position to get the best employees and partners. I regularly see highly compensated corporate employees leave for early stage or small companies for flexibility. If the founding CEO embraces flexibility, there’s a good chance everyone else will get it, too.
Time to Commit
It takes some strategic legwork to establish a functional, compliant remote or hybrid work environment. We’ve all gotten a break for “temporary” moves and pandemic enforcement squishiness. But in most places, it’s time to align your operations permanently to support flexibility.
Below is a checklist of conversations to have as soon as you can.
As you change employees’ work locations to their home addresses, you may need to register as a business and/or employer in the cities and states where your team lives. You’ll need to update their payroll status to reflect the permanent change of work address. Adding a physical nexus will impact your sales tax collection requirements.
Pay and policy updates: you’ll need to refresh your handbook and update policies to reflect your new reality. We’ve gotten a new federal holiday in 2021, and you may want to consider using floating holidays for flexible observance.
You’ll also want to check your nexus-based compliance on wages and paid leave. Many cities and states have paid family leave and sick leave minimum policies in place. Minimum wage and exempt salary can vary town to town. Here’s the California patchwork as of July 1. Even generally lawless Florida has a voter-approved annual minimum wage increase periodically through 2026.
And remember that federal minimum exempt salary is $684 per week but many cities and states have a higher threshold. If your employee’s annual compensation from salary, commission, and bonuses doesn’t meet the local standard, you’ll have to track hours and pay overtime.
Legal: consult your attorney about risks related to policy changes to employment, data, nexus, terms and conditions, privacy policies, and operating structure.
Accounting: update your accountant on these changes so she’s accurately advising you on tax withholding and keeping the books in a way that facilitates a multi-state return.
Insurance: update workers comp to reflect new locations and home office environments. Evaluate any additional liability coverage needs, for example when people travel for offsites and periodic meetings. Your premiums may go up or down depending on where work is performed. If you are now a multistate operator (you have employees in 2+ states), you may want to switch to a PEO for national health benefits and compliance support.
Data security: distributed work creates more data vulnerabilities. Even if you’re just working in coffee shops and on the road, it’s a good idea to evaluate where you could step up your security and policies. You may want to have employees download a “container” with your apps onto their phones and personal computers, use a subscription-based password manager, or log into a VPN. If you’re using Google Workspace or GSuite, there are all kinds of security settings you can toggle across desktop and mobile apps.
International work: if you’re popping out of the country for a couple of weeks, no big deal. But if you are considering that 1 euro house in Italy, understand how long you can stay and how much you can earn before you owe local taxes or need a specialized visa or business registration.
I know this feels like a lot, but you’ll want updated operating costs estimates for planning and policy renewals. More than ever, lean on your trusted experts for support in building a sustainable, flexible work environment that you love.
If you have no idea how much it will cost to do business this way or where to find the partners you need, grab 30 minutes with me. We can talk about the strategic planning considerations specific to your business and get you on track.
This post was originally published in our weekly newsletter on July 14, 2021. Want to get these gems first? Register here.