What Does It Take To Make Remote Work Work?


As a business owner, you are bound to look towards expanding your business at some point. In which case, you will have multiple offices at different locations. While you are in one worksite, you will want to stay in touch with employees in your other store locations. Staying connected is essential when your employees are spread out over the map. It’s even more important if your employees work remotely and do not often physically meet you or other employees on a regular basis.


At PayrollHero, we use a number of apps to facilitate remote work. These apps tie our employees together. We use the apps for face-to face interactions and for quick chats instead of spamming employees’ inboxes. The following apps might be useful for your company too:

SlackThis is the center of all our communication through different departments and offices. Slack allows you to create chat rooms and invite people to them. We use this feature to separate different functions of the team: engineering, business development, etc. Slack is also our metaphorical grapevine. We have chat rooms for random news, general musings and articles or books that anyone wants to share with the team. Slack also allows for private chats, thereby removing the need for emails to coordinate work. Slack is flexible in the sense that it has a number of integrations: Twitter, Mailchimp, appear.in.

Appear.in, Skype, Google HangoutsTeams can’t function without face-to-face meetings. Bosses benefit from meeting their employees face-to-face in order to gauge their emotional state and general well-being. The app features and video quality differ but essentially they help you conduct online meetings.

Asana, TrelloTo ensure that all tasks are tracked and accountable to the relevant employees, we use Asana. These apps are built to suit remote work. Asana allows you to assign tasks in a checklist format whereas Trello breaks down work in the form of projects in which tasks are outlined using cards. Both apps can be accessed online. So you or your employee can work from anywhere in the world and still stay on top of things.

Google Drive, Dropbox for BusinessKeeping track of all the documents and sheets created by multiple departments across different worksites is essential. These apps are tailored towards businesses’ storage needs. With a subscription fee, you have access to unlimited storage, data analytics (for Google) and more. Both apps allow you to track who is editing files and what kind of access you want your employees to have for each file or folder.

It’s More Than Just Apps

Making remote work successful is more than having a suite of apps at your disposal. It requires a shift in the way you and your employees think about work. It requires trust in your employees to work even if you’re not monitoring them at the office. We have inculcated some practices that help maintain discipline and structure even when employees work at different locations across the work. Here are some that have helped us:

Morning catch ups: Every morning, at a time suitable to your employees in their respective time zones, each employee summarizes their work in 60 seconds. The format is: what they accomplished yesterday, what they couldn’t complete, what they will do today and roadblocks to completing their work. From the head of the team down to the entry-level employee must be able to summarize their work in under a minute. The meeting is helpful in understanding where the team is going and what can be done to remove roadblocks.

Handbooks: For new employees, or employees that have changed departments, it is hard to catch up to how things are done when the entire department works remotely. Writing down the steps to each task in a handbook and storing it in Google Drive/Dropbox cuts down on confusion and time wasted in connecting with the employee who knows how to do the required task. Handbooks remove any misunderstandings or errors. It is a fool-proof way of ensuring that the business continues in case someone is not available to lend a helping hand.

Slack-logoUsing Slack to integrate the team: While Slack can be used to create chat rooms and do work, it is often a great tool to include everyone on the team and talk about common interests. Our chat-rooms like #random and #general are great spaces for employees to share ideas and talk about things outside of work. It is a place to plan outings over the weekend or share movie reviews. These conversations pull the team together and allow for cross-departmental interaction; something that could be missing while everyone is focusing on work.

Finally, making remote work possible is about using apps to their maximum capacity and reviewing if they work or not. Managers need to be more mindful of their employees. Employees in turn need to make a conscious effort to stay on top of their work because remote work often results in the blurring of personal and professional life. Altogether, making remote work work is hugely beneficial to employees. All it takes is a little tweaking of the way things are usually done.

Singapore Corporate Taxes 102: Auto Inclusion Scheme


Our Singapore Corporate Tax lessons are back! (I know what you’re thinking… nothing says exciting like taxes). This time we’ll be talking about how employers in Singapore should handle tax forms for their employees. The IRAS is trying to digitize the entire system by introducing the Auto Inclusion Scheme this year and linking it to CPF contributions. In short, filing tax returns is going to be a smoother, more integrated process.

Under the Income Tax Act, there are four forms that employers should be aware of:

  1. Form IR8A: This is to declare income of all employees
  2. Appendix 8A: This form should be completes if the employee is provided with benefits-in-kind unless these benefits are exempted from Income Tax
  3. Appendix 8B: If the employee has benefited from any Share Ownership Plans, then this needs to be completed
  4. Form IR 8S: Must be completed if excess CPF contributions are made by the employer.

Explanatory notes on each form are here. Income tax returns must be filed for the following people:

  1. Full time resident employees
  2. Part time resident employees
  3. Non-resident employees
  4. Company director (including a non-resident director)
  5. Pensioner and
  6. Employees who have left the organisation within the financial year

For your reference, here are the tax rates for different income brackets:

Taxable Income Bracket Total tax on income below bracket Tax rate on income in bracket
0-20,000 0 0
20,001-30,000 0 2
30,001-40,000 200 3.5
40,001-80,000 550 7
80,001-120,000 3,350 11.5
120,001-160,000 7,950 15
160,001-200,000 13,950 17
200,001-320,000 20,750 18
>320,001 42,350 20

The Auto Inclusion Scheme is a system for recording employee income and tax related information for companies with 12 or more employees for the entire year, ending 31 December 2014. Companies have to submit employee information to IRAS electronically by March 1st of every year, starting from 2015. This way, companies do not need to distribute hard copies of the above forms for employees to file their income tax returns.

If employers use payroll software to generate payroll, then the software can be used to submit files to AIS using another (free) software provided by the IRAS called the Validation and Submission Application. The payroll software should meet the IRAS file format specifications in order to submit forms. The Validation and Submission Application software can be downloaded here.

Once every employee’s details are filled in through AIS, companies should inform their employees to file their tax returns through the myTaxPortal. Employees no longer need to fill in their income and details from the four forms above because the AIS system already has it stored.

Employers who have fewer than 12 employees are also encouraged to use the AIS by filling out this form and emailing it to ais@iras.gov.sg. After submitting the form, companies will also have to go through a trial exercise before joining the AIS.

The AIS system can be linked to CPF Data in order to fill up Form IR 8S easily. The system makes for smooth functionality across the IRAS and CPF platforms. To sign up for the AIS and CPF Data Link-up Service from 2016, this application form must be filled. For existing AIS members who want to use the CPF Data Link-Up Service, this application form must be filled.

Hope this helps! If you want to know how to pay up CPF contributions, we’ve got you covered. More on Tax Clearance and CPF contributions later.

Disclaimer: As always, consult your lawyer or accountant for advice! We are here to help, but your specific situation should be reviewed by a professional with complete knowledge of your situation. 

Cloud Computing Part II: 5 Companies that are Changing the way Business is Done


As a sequel to our previous post on cloud computing, we thought we would give you an idea of how cloud computing is being used by companies to help businesses in South East Asia. Below we have 5 companies that are changing the way businesses function. Some of them are catered towards bringing in more consumers through the door while others are helping business move day-to-day operations into the cloud so that businesses can spend more time and money on their core competencies.

Loyalty Apps

Perx: This Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software collects loyalty cards into one neat app. For a consumer, you earn points every time you purchase something. Accumulation of points leads to rewards. Perx says that consumers spend 7 times more with the app than without it. Some of the merchants under Perx’s belt are Subway, Joe and Dough’s, Maki San and Salad Stop.

For you, a merchant, Perx gives a huge client database by putting you on their map. The company uses Amazon Web Services to control all the data it collects. Perx’s data analytics gives information about consumption trends, how much a consumer would spend on lunch, where they are located: in short, everything you would like to know about your customer. Perx offers this wealth of data to all its merchants for a fee. As an added marketing platform, Perx features companies on their email and blog which is sure to boost your presence in the community.

Foursquare: While Foursquare does not collect virtual loyalty cards, it uses its core competency – geolocation data and services – in order to bring businesses to consumers. For businesses that claim their names in the Foursquare directory, all rewards and deals that are offered will be displayed to the user.

Inventory Management

TradeGecko: Singapore’s leading user-friendly inventory management software uses the Cloud. It helps retailers and wholesalers to manage multiple warehouses and the entire supply chain without using conventional methods like excel. TradeGecko allows remote monitoring which helps retail managers to control operations at multiple locations. TradeGecko also has Xero integrated into it to digitize the accounting end of the business as well.

Unleashed: Similar to TradeGecko, Unleashed provides analytics on turnover rates, overstocked items, managing margins across different channels (retail, wholesale, e-commerce) and all this in real time.  Unleashed also integrates other Cloud solutions to its app.

Food Delivery Apps

Slurp: Created by Silent Mode, Slurp is the Malaysian version of Foodpanda. It uses cloud based POS systems that help restaurant owners process delivery orders. While Slurp does not deliver food, it has a data analytics service along with a customer app and a waiter app, all in the effort to make ordering food a smoother and error-free process.

5 Reasons Why Smiling Increases Productivity


At PayrollHero, we help cultivate a happy working culture by having employees start and end each day with a SMILE!


Our selfie TeamClock captures your amazing smiley faces as you clock in and out of your office or work station. Gone are the mundane punch cards! We can uplift your mood by having you coming to and leaving work feeling much more invigorated, motivated and Happier!

Smile Every Mile…


Did you know smiling from real emotions or even faking it has been scientifically proven to lower heart rate levels and decrease stress? (Source)




Here’s 5 reasons why smiling contributes to higher productivity:

  1. Happy people work better with others. People who have happy energy are a lot more fun to be around and consequently have better working relationships with others. In fact, researchers have found that happiness is contagious. Nicholas Christakis, a professor at Harvard Medical School explains that “Everyday interactions we have with other people are definitely contagious, in terms of happiness”. He says that when one person is happy, the social network effect can increase up to 3 degrees- meaning friends of friends.
  2. Happy people are more creative. Productivity means being able to come up with new ideas. If your job depends on developing new ideas, then you have to be happy at work. Check out this study by Teresa Amabile for proof. She says that:“If people are in a good mood on a given day, they’re more likely to have creative ideas that day, as well as the next day, even if we take into account their mood that next day.
    There seems to be a cognitive process that gets set up when people are feeling good that leads to more flexible, fluent, and original thinking, and there’s actually a carryover, an incubation effect, to the next day.”At PayrollHero we keep customers on their toes as we keep coming up with fresh features to optimize time, attendance, scheduling and payroll for businesses.
  3. Happy people fix problems better. No problem is a mountain too high for the engineering team at PayrollHero. We will gear up and fix any problems. A recent study has proved that “a way to improve software developers’ productivity and software quality is to focus on people and provide incentives to make developers satisfied and happy”. Happy programmers are better problem- solvers. Science says so!


    Adventure Engineers in Danang, Vietnam

  4. Happy people get sick less often. Getting sick is a productivity killer. If you don’t like your job, you’re more susceptible to have major diseases including ulcers, cancers and diabetes. This is especially so for women, where one study has assessed the impact of job strain on the health of 21,290 female nurses in US and found that those who are at health-risk are those who didn’t like their job (source). So, being happy with your job prevents you from being sick and burning out.
  5. Happy people make better decisions. People who are happier make better, informed and consistent decisions. An article in the Journal of Consumer Research determined that mood influences the very basic element of decision making- whether we like something or not.

Curious about how PayrollHero can create happier work environment and improve productivity for your business. Come to our FREE in-house event! 

PayrollHero In-House Event: Retail Hero, 14 May 2015

Click me! Get tickets on Eventbrite