As a remote manager, you don’t want to police your remote employees, but you do want to make sure that they are working.

If your company allows workers complete autonomy over their schedules, how do you know when they’re working, if at all? Many companies are turning to monitoring and tracking tools to ensure that their workers are meeting their deadlines. Find out if employee monitoring in a remote environment makes sense for your organization.

The benefits of employee monitoring:

Monitoring employees has its pluses and minuses. Workers who know that they’re being tracked are less likely to slack off. On the flip side, you run the risk of creating a big brother environment, which might turn off your workers. For independent contractors who might be concerned as to how to justify the number of hours they work, having time tracking in place can actually be a relief, as it will show that they were legitimately working.

It builds trust.

Employers are less likely to be suspicious of their employees if they have monitoring in place because they know that their workers are actually working when they are clocked in. It also allows real-time feedback on progress, so that an employer is never left wondering if a project is halfway completed or barely even started.

It frees up time.

Micromanaging remote workers is a near impossibility. Plus, what employer really wants to waste his time tracking down workers, when he could be concentrating on bigger picture projects? Remote worker monitoring means that everyone is on the same page, and it removes the need for managers to micromanage or incessantly check up on their teams.

Before you start implementing tools and programs, consider these tips:

Assess the situation.

Why do you want to implement time tracking in the first place? Is it because you’ve had errant remote workers in the past who weren’t focused on their jobs? Or is it because you feel that it would free up managerial time not having to worry if work is being done? Knowing your why can help you determine if monitoring is necessary, and how much needs to be implemented.

Make it public.

Once you’ve decided to put monitoring in place, you should share this information with your team, especially if your team hasn’t had a time tracking program in place before. You don’t want your workers to think that you don’t trust them, but rather, explain how these tools can help efficiency for everyone.

Tailor the tools.

There are several tools that your company can use to monitor your workers. Hubstaff, Time Doctor, VeriClock, and Teramind are all useful monitoring programs that can help you keep tabs on your workers and also have them in sync with each other.

Most will track the websites your workers visit each day and which programs they’re using. This can help if you need to schedule a meeting with a worker who’s spending more time on social media than sourcing new clients.

Make it company wide.

You don’t want your workers to feel like they’re being punished by having their time tracked by management. So make sure they know that this is a company-wide policy in which they can also see when their managers are working. That will assuage the sting of feeling like they’re being penalized for not doing anything wrong and guarantee that you maintain a happy remote team.

Don’t overdo it.

While some monitoring can be helpful and a true timesaver, overly monitoring your employees can become problematic. After all, time tracking is meant to reduce the amount of time you spend looking for your workers or playing catch-up with them—it’s not meant to spy on them or track their every move.

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