Monitor Remote Workers as if They are on The Desk, Right Next to You

After the COVID-19 pandemic, it became clear to office-based businesses that employees could be productive and focused while working remotely from home.

The advantages of telecommuting are decisive for the employer and the staff alike – some you might already be aware of, while others might take you by surprise. Perks include better work-life balance, improved inclusivity, a positive environmental impact, and money savings, to name a few. Remote (and hybrid) workplaces are increasingly common, with the prevalence of working from home being the highest in tech, finance, and professional and business service sectors.

Remote workspace
photo credit: Skylar Kang / Pexels

Keeping an eye on employees in the remote workforce is important to manage productivity and compliance with office policies. Distractions are often more than people can handle, resulting in even reduced job satisfaction.

At present, many tools, including time tracking software, are available to monitor workers’ activities, conduct, and performance on a remote basis. Some employees can be trusted without limitations, while others can be trusted to telecommute only if monitored. This shouldn’t discourage you from allowing people to work from home. It’s not the location that impacts productivity but individual ability and group dynamics.

Here are a few practical steps to ensure the success of remote teams:

Set Expectations from The Very Beginning to Avoid Confusion

Setting clear expectations for individuals and teams sets up your organization for success with better employee engagement, alignment, and productivity. Flexible work arrangements can be granted when circumstances and conditions allow for success.

Communicating employee responsibilities is the key to a productive workplace, as people are able to manage their time adequately. It’s not about telling workers what to do but about inspiring confidence and fostering growth. Even if expectations are documented, employees may interpret them differently or have questions about specific details. It’s essential to have open channels of communication to encourage accountability.

Convey any expectations relevant to the employee’s role, such as when to check in or send project updates. Having weekly check-ins, for instance, allows you to pinpoint potential issues before they escalate – you and your staff members can discuss any concerns or questions regarding work expectations. It can be difficult, if not impossible, to build rapport with team members who aren’t physically present; they become more isolated and burn out much faster.

Listening is the most effective strategy you can use, so create opportunities for employees to provide feedback. Let people know their input is valuable to the organization.

Give Regular Feedback to Show People They’re Valued

Remote workers may feel disconnected, isolated even, so it’s paramount to give feedback constructively. Although it’s considered a nice-to-have rather than a must-have, feedback can be easily forgotten in day-to-day office life. In case you didn’t already know, it requires a different approach.

Avoid inadvertently criticizing any of your team members, even if it’s necessary to suggest minor revisions. Regrettably, there are situations when you must provide negative feedback. What are you supposed to do then? As much as you’d like to condemn an awful performance, your business won’t gain anything from it. The employees will only decrease their productivity.

Remote working

Keep Track of The Hours Spent on Different Tasks

As you’ll see, it’s difficult to know if employees embracing flexible work are actually working. Using various types of software, you’ll know exactly how your teams are using their time each day, so you can budget according to the data, and if the workload is too big or small, you can reassign tasks.

Instead of having your people write countless emails to your HR for leaves, you can use the software to track attendance and absences. It’s ideal for agencies in the recruitment sector. Additionally, you can identify staff sickness patterns, compensate workers adequately, and minimize disruptions. You don’t have to physically monitor your remote workforce from 9 to 5 each day.

More often than not, you’re busy managing your own workload, which can impact your ability to gather information on the activities and location of your staff. The good news is that tracking employee performance has become simpler thanks to time-tracking software, which can be easily implemented into PCs and laptops via downloads. You can stay on top of ongoing projects, recognizing potential hiccups and devising strategies to help your team be more productive.

Whether it’s an in-office or a remote team, a time-tracking app allows you to manage tasks more effectively. You know for a fact which clients are served and what projects you’ve concluded successfully.

Be Upfront About Your Social Media Policy

Remote workers must know they’re not allowed to check their social media while on the job. Some people have a desire for connection, which takes the form of constant updates and the fear of missing out, so they can’t resist the temptation of checking in with their family and friends. Ensure all employees fully understand the policy and what consequences there are for violating the rules.

Look for posts in which staff members have been involved; if there are any issues, reach out directly via social media. If your employees are forever posting or tweeting, your company is losing money.

Ensure Remote Workers Receive the Appropriate Notifications

Last but certainly not least, be certain your remote workforce receives appropriate notifications. Notifications keep people updated about what’s going on in the office – in other words, they enable the immediate reception of information anytime and anywhere. If you’d like to send push notifications, register employees’ devices and ensure they have the app installed.

It’s recommended to prioritize your most important groups to see notifications. If you send out too much information at once, your communication will be added to the digital noise and distractions, which will only reduce worker disengagement.

Remote working in France
photo credit: Yan Krukov / Pexels

The Takeaway

Employees feel more productive when working from home, but output depends on several factors, including the type of work, home setup, distractions, personality type, and work preferences. Surveillance should be ethical, meaning there must be good reasons to monitor people beyond mere curiosity. The idea isn’t to babysit remote workers, it’s to evaluate your team members’ output as compared to how they spend their days.