Remote working monitoring software has become a key concern for businesses globally. The reason is because companies are going global with a vengeance – a founder based in Silicon Valley, California; programmers based in Bangalore, India; marketing teams sitting in Madison Avenue, New York; and distribution teams based in Europe are not a pipe dream anymore.
Millions of individuals in the US can be categorized as remote workers, whether self-employed or employed for organizations on a full-time or part-time basis.
Where you are located is of little importance in today’s connected workplace as long as you fit into the overall scheme of things at the company and contribute effectively to the brand’s growth.
The reasons why remote working monitoring options is gaining popularity rapidly are many.
The recent economic downturn leading to widespread joblessness across the globe contributed to more and more people switching to being self-employed and setting up flexible work from home businesses. Companies too chose to take their jobs to locations that offered cost advantages in a tough economic climate.
However, these are not the only reasons why mobile workforces are here to stay. Reasons vary for the employer vs. the employee, but a happy medium that keeps both employees and employers happy is not a tough task.
The Employers’ Perspective
- Cheaper. This is probably the number 1 reason for outsourcing jobs, seeking out ways to find workers who offer the same talent and productivity that local workers would but at much lower cost. Besides saving on salaries, companies also end up saving big sums on office space, facilities, and lower overheads in the case of work-from-home business models.
- Closer to the best talent pools. Another important factor in the migration of work to remote locations is the scarcity of talent. It is not uncommon to have teams that specialize in a particular skill to be located offshore or to offer talented workers the opportunity to work remotely, just to get their skills on board.
- Attracting good talent, retaining them. With the competition for scarce talent referred to above heating up, it is imperative to be perceived as a flexible employer with attractive, employee-oriented policies. Offering on-site employees the flexibility to work from home once in a while is another bonus for retaining existing employees and improving employee satisfaction.
The Employees’ Perspective
While employers approach remote teams as a means of reducing costs and improving productivity, employees look at remote working lifestyles as a great way to achieve work-life balance. The flexibility of a work-from-home job and the time saved in commuting all add up to improved employee satisfaction and productivity.
Elance conducted a study of freelance online professionals in 2014, where they found that almost 30% of workers began freelancing to be their own boss and to work on the kind of projects they love. The top three benefits of remote working were mentioned as:
- The ability to control your own schedule – 90%
- Follow your passion – 87%
- Eliminate commute time – 85%
For employers, the right attitude is clear: consider your remote workforce as an asset that gives your company the edge over competition, instead of railing against the inconvenience of remote working monitoring software.
However, distance does bring certain remote monitoring challenges that businesses have never had to deal with before. Let’s take a look at what these are and how successful businesses are overcoming them.
1. Get the right people
Remote employee monitoring demands adequately qualified workers who are self-motivated and capable enough to perform their duties with minimal supervision. It also demands skilled managers who can build strong working relationships with teams located in different geographic pockets and enable them to perform as efficiently as possible.
2. Schedule working hours, establish reporting systems
Just because an employee works from home does not mean that regular work hours do not apply to him or her. Define clear times that remote employees are expected to be available. When all hands are on deck at the same time, this helps in getting things done quickly and efficiently. In the case of employees in different time zones, it helps to know the best time to reach them.
Set up reporting and communication channels with your remote teams that help in collaboration, supervision, and troubleshooting. This could be via a daily conference call with your remote teams, a daily chat over instant messenger, or any other platform that works best for your company to stay on top of work schedules.
3. Embrace the right technology
Investing in state-of-the-art technology is vital for remote employee monitoring. It goes without saying that an organization that encourages remote working ought to have mobile computing devices – laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Introducing a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy is another smart way to be flexible toward employees’ preferences, while simultaneously cutting overhead costs.
Besides the obvious email networks, use cloud computing to access, modify, and store data that the team works on. Project management, collaboration and employee monitoring software can help remote teams contribute ideas, brainstorm on new projects, and stick to deadlines. They also help managers assign responsibilities and track progress clearly.
Use instant messaging tools like Skype or Google Hangouts that allow face-to-face interaction with remote teams for free. A screen sharing tool like Jing Screencast helps in troubleshooting long-distance. Time tracking tools like Hubstaff come with screenshots, activity levels and application tracking that give you insight into how your team works. Now you can combine Hubstaff Tasks as a project management tool with Hubstaff’s time tracking abilities so you can run your business based on real data.
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4. Set clear goals and expectations
In a regular workplace, employees learn about what is expected of them not just from the goals penned down in black and white, but also from subtle hints picked up during face-to-face interactions with their managers and other coworkers.
Remote workers lack the benefit of these numerous daily face-to-face interactions and water-cooler conversations that regular employees enjoy. For this reason, it becomes imperative to set clear expectations from them. Define micro and macro goals and long-term deliverables to the tiniest detail to avoid any miscommunication.
5. Make daily contact with head office teams
As pointed out earlier, remote workers lack the one-on-one interactions that colleagues in an office have on a daily basis. These interactions help in building a team spirit, in understanding workplace dynamics, and in building a sense of belonging among employees.
Foster these feelings in your remote workers by ensuring that they interact with their manager and other functional teams on a daily basis. This prevents them from feeling left out of the action at the workplace. It also engenders a seriousness that remote workers can sometimes lose due to working from home in non-corporate surroundings.
6. Incentivize productivity, provide regular feedback
Competition between coworkers often pushes them to excel and produce better results than the next guy. Remote workers often don’t have coworkers against whom they can measure their own performance. Keep your remote workers informed about how their work measures up. Offer helpful tips, tools, and resources that will help them overcome specific challenges more effectively.
Reward your remote teams every time they go above and beyond set expectations. This need not always be a monetary reward – a pat on the back or an email to the entire team recognizing exemplary work can equally raise spirits and spur motivation.
7. Be available for troubleshooting
Just as onsite teams have help on hand from their managers or other cross-functional teams, demonstrate to remote teams that they can reach out to key team members who work onsite anytime they face a stumbling block or need guidance for the way forward.
Keeping the lines of communication open is as important as the actual act of problem solving from remote locations.
8. Trust your team
Lastly, but most importantly, give your remote teams the twin gifts of breathing space and faith in their abilities. Trust them to deliver the goods the way they are meant to be and put away the urge to micromanage every small activity.
One of the reasons people opt to work remotely is the independence that they get. Don’t take away this crucial component that makes remote working attractive to your team members.
The last word on remote monitoring
Remote work forces, while unimaginable just a couple of decades ago, are the new reality of our age. Instead of rebelling against lost local opportunities due to jobs migrating to other locations, individuals and organizations would do well to embrace the flexibility that remote working grants each of them.