How to Monitor Remote Employees Without Damaging Team Morale
Remote employee monitoring is a tricky topic with diverse opinions. At one end of the argument are those that support this move as it helps to keep track of your remote workforce productivity. At the other end are those that believe tracking workforce activity signals a supervisory distrust that can dampen the morale of your team.
However, we believe that with the right strategy and tool, you can monitor your remote staff and maintain high team morale. We believe that with a gradual increase and preference for remote jobs worldwide, it’s imperative for business and corporate entities to have remote monitoring tools and strategies within their organizations’ standard operating procedures.
Let’s first help you understand what remote monitoring entails, before providing you with some effective tips:
What is Remote Monitoring?
Remote monitoring is a term referring to ways employers monitor off-site employees’ productivity and activity per the requirement of the organization.
Although controversial, since it infringes on some privacy laws and data protection acts, it can help supervisors visualize employee work rates and deliverables. Some types of employee monitoring are:
- Email monitoring,
- Web activity monitoring,
- Computer activity monitoring.
Below are some tips for monitoring remote employees without damaging team morale in your organization:
Tips to Monitoring Employees without Affecting Team’s Morale
Tracking your remote workforce can dampen a team’s morale. However, there are tips to working around this impediment. Here are some:
1. Be Transparent About your Monitoring Plans
At the onset of your monitoring activities, or when onboarding a new remote workforce, endeavor to disclose all important information about how the team is being monitored, and the reason for the plan.
What’s more? Avoid scaremongering your staff with such information. Of course, it’ll dampen their morale at onset, but how you engage them going forward will determine whether they’ll be more accommodating of the idea or not.
Encourage engagement and feedback about the monitoring system to make your staff feel at ease about the process. Over 70% of Americans strongly agree that they’ll exit a job if their employer secretly monitors digital activities. Thus, not being transparent can make you lose key employees.
2. Avoid Over-reliance on Data
Accessing your workforce solely on data gotten from monitoring tools can make you have unrealistic expectations. No one works perpetually always, at all times. Also, work rate differs based on productivity styles, personalities, and skill sets.
Transitioning to remote is challenging for some, so, realistically, they might be up to a slow start. A good metric is ensuring that your staff performs the same number of tasks as they were on-site within the first quarter of working remotely.
3. Use Project Management Tools
Project management tools are software designed to help company founders and administrators to assign and manage tasks. These tools are designed such that a project manager can break each project into milestones, assign each staff or group with different milestones, set deadlines, and track their progress.
They’re particularly preferred for monitoring workforce activities as they don’t intrude into the team’s privacy, and they track productivity via a project-based approach.
However, these apps shouldn’t be relied on as a primary means of tracking remote work because it doesn’t track many tasks. For example, it doesn’t track tasks outside the scope of the project. E.g. software troubleshooting mid-tasks or organizing email inbox.
Also, some projects are difficult to quantify. For example, negotiation with a client might be straightforward depending on the customer’s demands, and interests.
4. Opt for Self Reporting
If you have a small workforce or trust your team, you can make policies on self-reporting.
For example, you can request that all team members report activities to their team leads at the end of each day, detailing tasks achieved for the day, how busy they are, and if they can handle more tasks.
This is a subtle way of monitoring your workforce, as it allows them to determine whether they’re overworked, or underworked. Of course, some may deliberately misrepresent their workloads, but it’ll generally create trust in any other remote monitoring strategy you’ve adopted.
5. Focus on Business Activities Only
Some monitoring tools can be customized to monitor specific apps or software within the employees’ computers. As such, much power is given to managers deploying these solutions to identify what their employees are doing–this includes the possibility of snooping around their sensitive data.
Monitoring tools should be shut-down outside work hours. You may monitor the usage of work-related software during work hours, but it should stop there.
Since many apps are used for both work-related tasks, and day-to-day personal activities, knowing where to draw the line between what you should monitor, and employee privacy is sacrosanct.
6. Use Surveillance as an Aid
The response of your remote workforce depends on the attitude of your management team to surveillance. Either as a tool for reprimanding your staff, or to improve their productivity.
Using surveillance tools to aid productivity improves the receptiveness of your workforce to the idea. For example, if your staff spends more time than necessary sorting through emails, there’s no need to reprimand them. Rather, organize training on email management, and how to improve workplace productivity.
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