The number of employees who work remotely has been steadily growing for years as technology has enabled more workers to easily perform work duties at home. Enough people enjoy working from home that many employers have found that offering the option to work remotely helps attract new employees.
Setting clear expectations from the beginning helps avoid confusion and frustration.
Remote work has increased by 44% over the last five years and by 159% over the last twelve years. Still, even with this steady growth, the majority of people still worked outside of their homes the majority of the time.
Then, COVID-19 came along. In an effort to slow the spread of the global pandemic and avoid overwhelming hospitals and healthcare workers, social distancing measures were put into place and people were instructed to stay home and keep away from other people as much as possible.
Some workplaces have shut down entirely, but others, in an attempt to stay open and continue employing workers, have rapidly transitioned from traditional workplaces with some, a few, or no remote workers into entirely remote workforces.
It’s an experiment that already has had mixed results, and it’s too soon to tell whether this forced period of increased work-from-home opportunities will lead to more permanent changes. But as employees and employers scramble to adjust to the changes in the meantime, questions about workplace monitoring arise.
How can employers keep an eye on their workers and ensure productivity when those employees are confined to their homes? What can they do to prevent mistakes and security breaches that could hurt clients and the company? How much monitoring is too much when the employee being monitored is in their own private home? Take a look at what you should know about monitoring work-from-home employees when you have no choice but to let your employees work from home.
Whether you’re monitoring work-from-home employees or not, it’s important to remember that this situation is just as new for your workers as it is for you, and it’s up to leadership to make sure that everybody is on the same page and understands what’s expected of them. Before you start worrying that your monitoring data tells you that employees aren’t behaving in the ways that you want them to, make sure that they know what it is that you want from them in a work-from-home environment.
For example, what will the working hours be? Will employees be expected to work the same number of hours at the same times of the day that they did in the office, or will working from home be more flexible? The answer is going to vary depending on the type of work being done and the preferences of the company.
But if you need employees to be “at work” from home between the hours of 9 am and 6 pm, or if you just need them to put in a certain number of hours or specific volume of work in a 24-hour period, then you need to let them know what the rules are upfront.
Don’t forget to also set expectations around interoffice communication. Employees should know whether their inquiries via email or other electronic means will be responded to within minutes, hours, days, or longer, and what they should do when they have an urgent inquiry that can’t wait.
On the flip side, how quickly do you expect employees to respond to your messages to them? And what’s the system for when employees are going to be unavailable during typical working hours – when they’re sick, for example, or when they have a doctor’s appointment? Is there a system for them to call in sick? Do they need to email a supervisor privately or make an announcement in the company Slack channel? Or can they just make up the work at a later time? Again, the answers will vary based on the company’s needs, but it’s important for employees to know what their company’s answer is for them.
Know Your Monitoring Tools
Monitoring tools on work devices can help your company adjust to being a remote employer
Employee monitoring software tools make it possible for employers to monitor employee productivity and maintain company security both in the office and remotely. But you may need to use different tools now that your employees are working from home than you did when your employees were mostly in the office. So it’s important to know what monitoring tools you have available to you and how to use them.
Remember, if your team is new to working from home, there’s likely to be an adjustment period – and the pandemic presents less than ideal circumstances for making that adjustment. Used correctly, monitoring software can not only help maintain productivity and security but can also be a tool for letting managers know which employees need extra support in adjusting to new work methods in a difficult time. Start your risk free 7-day trial to learn more.