2021 – Another year of remote global payroll delivery?

January 6, 2021 | David Daly 5 Mins read

Last year was a year like no other, and a global pandemic forced multinational organizations everywhere into panic mode for the remote delivery of essential business services. Understandably, global payroll was quickly deemed a critical business service and great emphasis was placed on the continued accurate and on time delivery of payroll to employees.

At a time of great uncertainty, ensuring people were paid on time served to alleviate some of the intense unease and anxiety being experienced at multinational corporations. As always, global payroll professionals responded very well to the challenges of COVID-19 and managed to successfully deliver global payroll in very challenging circumstances.

Now the ramifications of the global pandemic are clear, and businesses plus global payroll managers everywhere have had an opportunity to adapt and respond to these exceptional circumstances, the question now turns to how long more is global payroll expected to be delivered remotely and could it even perhaps become the norm?

In this article, we will look at some of the areas global payroll professionals need to remain focused on to ensure the continuation of successful remote global payroll delivery.

Global payroll access must not be restricted

When the coronavirus pandemic first hit last year, and it became clear that payroll would need to be delivered remotely, an immediate issue came to light – few organizations were fully equipped to give their global payroll professionals easy and comprehensive access to all of the global payroll data they needed to do their jobs efficiently.

Legacy technology systems plus the lack of innovative digital tools resulted in many global payroll professionals struggling to access key information and procedures while working from home. The payroll process was simply not designed for remote delivery or emergency business continuity- in many organizations, payroll was at risk.

in response to this alarming situation, many organizations simply did their best with the tools they had in place or attempted quick fixes which resulted in limited or unsatisfactory access to data. Perhaps the feeling was that the global pandemic would pass, and this was not the right time to invest heavily in digital tools that could facilitate remote delivery.

Now it is clear that the first question around global payroll continuity will be about suitable access to the necessary data needed to deliver global payroll. Multinational organizations need to have the right structures in place to ensure that all participants in the payroll ecosystem have access to the data they needed to do their jobs and make payroll happen. Access must not be restricted and there should now be in place a fully documented and formalized approach to accessing and sharing structured data files.

Cloud tools are needed for payroll delivery

Cloud based delivery of global payroll services allows for a much more flexible process as the cloud environment operates with innovative digital tools that enable remote workers and global payroll professionals to carry out tasks in a smarter, faster and more efficient manner.

The global pandemic has highlighted the inefficiencies of not operating in a cloud environment. To deliver an essential and critical business service in a remote environment, people need digital tools to communicate and share files and data more easily.

In global payroll, professionals need to be able to switch tasks between people in different countries to cover for things like short-term sick leave. A formal and standardized approach to data and processes must be in place to facilitate this and make it easy.

Critical payrun data needs to be available in clearly identified folders along with standard operating procedures for delivering global payroll during business continuity. Sharing rights and appropriate authorization levels among staff members also need to be in place for data security reasons.

Cloud tools have the capacity to both enable and empower remote working global payroll professionals to perform their duties while not in the office. The most effective data sharing structures today take place in a cloud-based environment. This environment is where flexible and innovative digital technology allows multiple access points, file sharing, action trackers, global digitized calendars and audit trails for key compliance touchpoints.

Things like this are simply essential when payroll professionals are spread across multiple locations and performing their duties while operating in different time zones. The global pandemic has highlighted the cost of operating in a purely spreadsheet driven environment which is no longer sustainable or capable of meeting minimum information protection and data security requirements. After an extremely challenging year, major question marks will hang over organizations who continue to attempt to deliver business critical services like global payroll in a non-cloud environment.

Make innovation a priority

The global pandemic has proven, in a rather blunt and cruel way, that the old way of doing things is no longer sustainable in this new normal of remote service delivery. Companies that considered innovation and digital transformation to be ‘projects for another day ‘found themselves badly exposed and subject to service delivery failure during the cover 19 pandemic.

These companies will have learned to their cost that innovation has become a necessity instead of a luxury.  Investment in innovation and advanced digital platforms should now be a priority at multinational companies. As global payroll is a business-critical service and crucial to employee morale as well as business sustainability, it should be one of the first departments to have a digital transformation fast tracked.

Supplying global payroll professionals with innovative digital tools that help them do their job better is something that makes business sense. There is a clear and justifiable business case for investment in global payroll platform and technologies- there is a strong argument to say that there is also a sense of urgency about this – we don’t know when the next pandemic is going to hit or what world economic event will send us all spiraling back into remote delivery of essential services. The good news on the vaccine for the pandemic is tempered by the reality that it could take months or even years to be acquired by public health services. This means that global payroll will continue to be delivered remotely for several months of 2021 at the very least and anybody who has not yet focused on innovation in global payroll should make it a key priority for the year ahead.

Payroll professionals need to be able to perform a range of duties in a remote environment in order to process monthly or ad hoc payrun files. Their duties range from communicating effectively, to switching tasks or allocating new duties to colleagues, right up to an emergency on boarding of a new local payroll vendor if required. Global payroll has always been complicated, there have always been a lot of moving parts in play, and now that it is being delivered remotely, there is a strong need for innovative technology that introduces efficiency around the process while also minimizing risk. These complex challenges can only be solved by making digital innovation a priority.

Payslip and remote global payroll delivery

Last year, when the pandemic was at its height, and global payroll delivery was most at risk, Payslip was on hand to help our clients cope with demands, complexity and hugely pressurized payroll delivery workloads.

Our global payroll technology platform is perfectly suited to the remote delivery of global payroll. Using Payslip, global payroll professionals are able to:

Payslip is designed to empower global payroll professionals to do their jobs better and deliver in challenging circumstances. We have helped many clients around the world digitally transform the way they deliver global payroll and move them from dated legacy systems over to a cloud-based environment featuring innovative digital tools. We have everything you need for the efficient delivery of global payroll in a remote environment. Investment right now in the digital transformation of global payroll can ensure your company is prepared for anything in 2021. Talk to our team today.


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Using Payslip, we can manage all our payrolls across nine in-country vendors on one platform. When the global Covid-19 pandemic arose, it was not an issue from a payroll perspective, and critically getting everyone paid. The Payslip platform enabled continuity for our international payroll service including the fast and seamless implementation of the Payslip Employment Self Service during this time.

Colin Smith

Payroll Manager, LogMeIn

With business and employee growth rates of above 50%, we rely on our vendors to deliver on time, every time. Payslip’s workflow automation, enables Phorest to manage our payroll provider process – data driven, real time and transparent. Payslip saves us time so we can focus on our business growth.

Ana Kelly

International Payroll Manager, Phorest