Remote employee monitoring is one option businesses can implement to improve productivity, but the pros and cons should be considered.
Slowing the spread of COVID-19 has undoubtedly resulted in shifts in our day-to-day routines. Businesses are doing their part to weather the COVID-19 storm by protecting employees however they can by converting their employees to a fully remote workforce. Working from home is the new norm for many companies who are continuing operations. However, this shift in surroundings creates new challenges many employers are facing for the first time.
Many homes are filled with children home from school, partners working remotely and roommates who might’ve been laid off. Working from home, especially in the current climate, is likely to create added stress for employees who are trying their best to make it work.
On top of that, some business leaders are managing remote teams for the first time. Identifying the best methods to check in with team members and tracking progress gets tricky. Employee monitoring teeters dangerously close to micromanagement if it’s not thoughtfully planned out.
Pros and Cons of Monitoring Remote Employees
There are many benefits and drawbacks to increasing monitoring efforts on employees. These scaled up efforts can impact your companies budget, performance, morale and more. We’ve rounded up a few pros and cons for you to consider.
The clear benefit of monitoring employees is the objective clarity of seeing their work, time spent and what they’re working on. Here are a few key benefits you can expect from closer monitoring.
Working from home makes employees and your business more susceptible to hackers. You can generally control your internet security while employees are physically in the same place, but it gets complicated while everyone is at home and has different levels of security.
With monitoring software, you can limit the sites and files your employees can access and monitor their activity to ensure they’re on task.
Employees may feel tempted to scroll through Facebook or get off track while they’re alone at home. Everyone needs a break and taking 10 minutes shouldn’t be frowned upon. However, consistent “breaks” and slowed productivity can cost you if not handled right away.
A mix of a clear monitoring policy and monitoring software can resolve this issue. Setting clear expectations for employees from the beginning can mitigate future issues. Monitoring software adds an extra layer of accountability for employees.
It’s sometimes hard to guess how much to charge clients for your work if you’re a service-based business. The right time tracking and cost tracking software can save you a lot of time from manually tracking things and can streamline information into a single source.
Employee monitoring comes with its own drawbacks. Read on to learn about the risks you can face when implementing a monitoring system.
Privacy and legal issues
Employees may raise concerns from employees about their rights to privacy. It may also hurt company morale overall if the increased monitoring is perceived as a lack of trust between managers and employees.
You may also run into legal issues if you don’t familiarize yourself with rights to privacy employees are entitled to in addition to other laws in place to protect employees.
Some managers may take the increased data as an opportunity to closely scrutinize their team. More information may unfortunately give managers more ways to micromanage and can quickly snowball into a bigger problem if expectations are not set.
Increased monitoring can cause some employees stress and the added anxiety may impact their productivity. You can ease some of this stress if employees are informed from the beginning, but this may not be enough to make employees comfortable with the increased monitoring.
6 Steps to Monitor Remote Employees
Now that you understand the effects of a remote monitoring policy, it’s time to learn how you can effectively implement a policy. Here are six simple steps you can follow to implement a remote monitoring policy.
- Identify your ideal outcome: Your end-goal should drive your overall policy and the tools you choose.
- Get feedback from your team: Getting your team involved early can help get their buy-in and ensure the policy and tools you settle on align with what your team wants.
- Research tools: Shop around for the tools that best suit your goals and your team’s level of comfortability.
- Test your policy and tools: Before diving headfirst, get a portion of your team to test out the policy and do a trial-run on the tools to see how they feel. This can save you money from purchasing tools out of the gate and unnecessary stress from your team.
- Implement your policy and tools: Introduce your new policy and tools to your team and provide any necessary training.
- Make tweaks based on feedback: Encourage open feedback from your entire team to learn what’s working, what’s not working and how your policy can improve.
How to Decide if It’s Time to Closely Monitor Employees
Monitoring employees involves many things depending on your policy. Purchasing new software can get pricey and may not be worth the benefit if your company is financially struggling. However, the time saved with better management and increased productivity may make the investment financially sound.
The scenarios can go on, but it’s important to get to the root of it before considering the nitty gritty: does my team need closer monitoring? JW Surety Bonds created this flowchart below to walk you through some questions and decide if a remote employee monitoring policy is right for your time at this time.
Jessica Santos is a content marketing specialist who has written on many topics ranging from cybersecurity, personal finance and business operations.