The COVID-19 pandemic has created new challenges for businesses at all levels. Quarantine restrictions have forced companies to move their employees to remote work on a massive scale. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology conducted a survey based on which one-third of all American businesses were forced to move to remote work in 2020. Moreover, many companies are no longer even considering returning to the traditional, pre-Covid work mode. Google plans to allow 60% of employees to work from their offices only a few days a week, 20% can be completely remote, and the remaining 20% will work from new offices and locations. But how do you control work processes and team productivity?
Pains of Remote Employees for Businesses
Perhaps the most sensitive issue regarding remote work was, is, and will continue to be the issue of employee monitoring and control. After all, unlike in the office, where the employee is always in the public eye and where the manager can literally look into their monitors, it is pretty difficult to control what exactly the employee is doing at home.
There is also another problem, which is the salary of a remote employee. The time-based compensation traditionally used in many commercial companies and state organizations is inefficient because it encourages employees to assign themselves extra hours worked rather than improve their performance.
Fortunately, employee monitoring software programs help solve productivity tracking problems for managers and business owners. However, any software will bring results only in combination with the great management and mentoring skills of a team lead or an entrepreneur. Let’s find out how you can combine everything and leverage productivity.
Tips for Tracking and Boosting Remote Staff’s Productivity
Automate the Tracking Process with Employee Monitoring
Try to automate employee monitoring. In addition to the employee’s activity reports, it would be useful to install a program that allows you to determine what actions a worker performs to accomplish the tasks assigned to them, as well as to calculate the time spent on work. Moreover, many employees’ productivity enhances when they just know that their work is being monitored.
Make a Deal
Your company or department should produce guidelines and recommendations for employees who want to work from home. There should be a description of all work principles, clear timeframes, information about using employee monitoring tools, and a list of all rules. This way, your employee will know what is acceptable and unacceptable during a remote workday. These expectations may address issues such as timesheets and communication policies.
For people who work from home, it’s crucial to keep all the social aspects of working in an office. Daily or weekly meetings will help you not only check on the status of projects but also increase the productivity of your employees. Video meetings in the mornings at an agreed-upon time will kick-start the team’s workday. Talking “face-to-face” is at least faster than writing messages to different colleagues in personal messages or flooding the chat room with questions. Make it a rule: as soon as you have, for example, ten questions on one project in your messenger, it’s time to have a meeting via video call and discuss all the unclear points. Create rules for conducting a video call. For example, the employee should be wearing normal clothes, not pajamas, and should not be talking to you while lying in bed.
Regulate the Ways and Timing of Communications
Write work communication rules. Create labels for emails and messages, so that remote employees understand how much time they have to respond. With proper communication, staff will know if work is moving in the right direction, and you’ll understand how to maintain discipline in the ranks of remote workers.
Set Goals and Ask for Reports
Setting goals and establishing KPIs is a great way to increase productivity. The employee sees a result in front of them that they have to strive for. Set long- and short-term goals for your remote employees and check in regularly with progress reports.
They can email a progress report each day with information covering what they have managed to accomplish today, what they plan to accomplish tomorrow, and what pains they face. You can also check on long-term tasks dividing them into milestones and asking for weekly progress reports.
Determine and Remove Time Killers
You can use employee monitoring to find and eliminate time-killers distracting from work. These can be online sources like entertaining websites, video games, social networks, or video streaming platforms or applications and software unrelated to work matters. Having identified them, you can either restrict using them or demonstrate the report to your employees and ask for explanations.
How Can Employee Monitoring Enhance Productivity?
The success of the transition to remote work directly depends on how the right tools are chosen to organize it. In the case of employee monitoring and accounting software, it is important to find one that strikes a balance. On the one hand, it allows the manager to get enough information to make correct decisions about employees. At the same time, on the other, it does not turn corporate control into real surveillance of every action because this is not only unethical but also uncomfortable for the employee.
So how can employee monitoring tools help you track and enhance your staff’s productivity?
- Monitoring idle/active time of employees. Applications can determine whether your team members are working at the moment or just have turned on their computers, logged into their work accounts, and are having coffee with friends in the next room, making it look like they’re working;
- Programs can keep track of work tardies and hours of work. You can keep track of when an employee started and finished their workday by monitoring the login/logout times;
- Analysis of the programs used and the time spent on them. This function can not only help you save money by eliminating the useless software but also determine time-killers that distract your employees among them;
- Analyze Internet usage and time spent on various websites. Customization allows you to tailor this list to each department or employee. Sometimes it involves surprising insights, and you will be surprised what your team members do online during working hours.
Using reports received from employee monitoring, you can boost your staff’s productivity by analyzing your their behavior and implementing some changes in the working process or implying some new rules.
Some employee monitoring software also offers the ability to record screens, audio from a microphone, and video from a webcam. However, it is always worth remembering the balance and not violating personal boundaries. You can record your sales manager’s phone conversations with leads, but don’t overstep your authority. Make sure you get acquainted with the regulations and rules of using employee monitoring in your country, state, or city.
Implementing a system of efficiency control and time tracking is the right, sensible, and even vital step for remote employee monitoring. The use of such applications is probably the only real opportunity to keep control over your employees, get tools for monitoring and managing employees working from home, analyze the time they have worked.