The number of people working from home is steadily increasing, and more organizations are keeping an eye on them through the use of remote monitoring technologies. These tools provide a user with various features that keep watch on several aspects of your team's daily work routine. Knowing that your workers are doing the work is crucial in ensuring productivity and efficiency are being met. Depending on the monitoring tool, employers can track multiple things, such as the number of keystrokes, and measure their active and idle time.
However, using these tools has some risks attached that you should be aware of before implementing. Monitoring your workers can subject your organization to several federal and state laws regarding when employees have the right to privacy and when they need to be notified they are being monitored. This is something you want to be careful of regardless of whether or not you have business insurance. Make sure you seek legal advice before you proceed with any sort of monitoring.
Legally speaking, letting them know about the surveillance is a better way to prevent any possible lawsuit.
While you can be transparent with your team about keeping an eye on their work, you still want to avoid any potential legal issues. Furthermore, you must develop trust among your remote workforce around privacy concerns. That is why when using these monitoring tools as part of your remote workforce management, employers need to achieve a balance between privacy and the organization's need to monitor and manage the productivity levels.
For this post, let’s go over the best ways you can monitor your remote employees.
Employers interested in using software that monitors remote employees as part of their remote management strategy need to be aware of the concerns of their workforce on their privacy. Generally speaking, you should inform your remote employees which of their activities are monitored, how you plan to observe them, how their computer activity is utilized, and who is permitted to access their data. It’s a common concern and objection of employees that are going to be watched while working from home.
The data you collect from your remote employees while using monitoring tools can assist you in managing your remote workforce. However, business leaders need to avoid falling into a pitfall where they begin to micromanage time and instead use the insight to come up with informed product decisions.
Your employees may feel uncomfortable knowing that they are being monitored while working from home and will become concerned about how the data is being utilized. Chances are, they are going to be overly concerned about having their productivity level measured by a monitoring software that doesn’t offer the entire content on how well they are performing on their tasks.
Monitoring the usage of a computer can produce tons of informative data on how remote employees are using the internet and software application on their devices, but depending on the role of their jobs and working style, there is a good chance they could be spending time away from their laptops but remaining productive. Employees may also take some short breaks to recover their energy throughout the day, and it may cause concerns that their managers will see these breaks as them becoming disengaged.
Away from the computer
Another concern is the monitoring software's inability to determine when a remote worker engages with their work, but it does not require using a laptop. For example, phone calls are a part of sales deals, so that could be an issue when it comes to mentoring your remote employees. Trivial moments of inactivity are standard throughout a workday, and remote employees may become concerned that their managers will misuse the data to micromanage these short moments of inactivity.
Lastly, the protection of the data is also a significant concern. Internet activity collected by these monitoring programs can be potentially sensitive, such as the employees browsing history. The thought of having their browning history leaked public is a significant concern for these employees. They also may not have confidence in the fact that their employers are taking appropriate data loss precaution measures to protect their sensitive data.
Employers that are utilizing monitoring software for remote workers tracking need to be aware that using internet usage data is not the best way to analyze if their workers are remaining productive. That decision should not be made on monitoring internet usage alone. Instead, use that data to see which employees are disengaged and not telling the truth about their contributions to the workload.
Make a monitoring policy
Setting up an employee monitoring policy is crucial for communicating to your workforce how and why you are using these monitoring tools. A carefully defined policy that outlines the company’s employee monitoring goals and the techniques used to gather data will vastly help improve transparency. Being open with your employees about these monitoring tools before their implementation will allow employees to voice their concerns. It also serves as a learning opportunity for them to understand how employee monitoring will be used by the organization.
An employee monitoring policy offers employees the information they need to know about the organization monitoring over the workplace. While it does not constitute consent from a legal standpoint, the power imbalance caused in the relationship between employer and employee can mean that consent is not relied on as the legal precedent for employee monitoring when it comes to things like data privacy laws.
There are several things you should consider including in your policy:
- The amount of data that is acquired
- How the data shall be used by the organization
- What security measures the company has implemented to protect employee data
- Who has access to the data
- Who should employees go to voice their concerns
To calm your employees' nerves, consider adding a policy that allows employees to get access to their personal reports so they can see what data is being captured. Any available chances to boost transparency shall help develop trust in the intention behind the monitoring done by your organization. Remote work monitoring is not something employees will normally be enthusiastic about so be prepared to compromise.
Don’t monitor personal devices
If your organization is not providing dedicated devices to use off-site, then that means you need access to their personal devices. However, there are limited on the type of monitoring activities you can conduct on your employees. If you manage to receive permission to monitor their productivity through their personal devices, you need to carefully plan out how to implement the software and avoid collecting any personal information and sensitive data. If employees are working from home, establish a designated schedule, set up monitoring activities that only happen during those working hours to avoid collecting sensitive personal data. That way, if an employee is doing other work on the side, such as, for example, starting an online business like an online shop or online learning platform, you won’t collect data about what they’re doing.
Limit your monitoring
Your organization should only monitor what is absolutely necessary since you don’t want to make your employees feel like they are being watched 24/7. Limit the amount of monitoring to only what is required so you can reduce the negative impact caused by collecting employee privacy data. Business leaders need to define what type of data is needed for them to manage the remote workforce. The monitoring that takes place needs to be balanced between legitimate reasons, its legitimate uses, and the impact it has on worker privacy.
One way you can make monitoring easy and less intrusive is by providing your employees with milestones. Employees can mark down their progress accurately, and you are confident in their progress. Setting clear milestones, employees can report progress each day instead of waiting until the end of the week or month.
Implementing a milestone report also offers your company less invasive visibility. Managers will be able to see if their remote team members are making the necessary progress to accomplish their tasks on time. Segmenting the more extended assignment into milestones allows you to gather critical data for planning out projects in the future. It also allows you to track how long it takes your employees to reach these milestones so you can come up with a better project in the future.
Project and task management software
Instead of installing software that monitors every facet of their movement, consider using project and task management software alternatively. There are several varieties of software in the market. All of them can help track project progress, help manage your business, organize your workforce, and assign tasks related to various projects.
When a new project has been created, the team manager can generate it on the platform and assign it to the employees to work on the project. Managers can log in at any time to check-in and see the progress of their employees. If any employees need more tasks, they can quickly fill them in as well.
The software is not the best as an all-in-one employee workload monitoring tool because it still leaves some gaps in the data required to monitor employees. For instance, they are not able to address employee tasks not relevant to specific projects.
Monitoring employees in the remote workforce is necessary to understand how you can improve your employee's efficiency. However, there is a limit to how much you can monitor and what data you can collect from your employees. Push too far, and you’ll be receiving some complaints, which could cause productivity to lower and eventually lead to your company losing talent.