Employee monitoring software can make sure your remote staff is working.

ByLance T. Lee

Aug 5, 2022

Remote working took off to an unprecedented degree during the Covid-19 pandemic, when the pre-existing norm of offices full of people became impossible to sustain while battling a close-spread virus. In this situation, there has been a relaxation of office expectations at all levels. People could attend Zoom meetings in what was clearly home-appropriate, rather than business-appropriate clothing, for example. Working hours became increasingly flexible as long as the work was done within the time needed, rather than, for example, at the end of working hours on a given day. Not having to go home meant many people worked longer hours – while some used the remoteness and unsupervised nature of their location to focus much more on the home part of the equation, and much less on the work part. However, many companies felt that it would be ill-advised to use employee monitoring software while staff working remotely kept their business productive.

Since returning to a relative post-pandemic norm, however, remote work has absolutely refused to die. Those who saved money on a commute to the office, those who felt empowered by the relative isolation of their home environment and did more, and those who took on roles that were offered remotely, as commuting to the office would have been both inconvenient and expensive, established remote working as a phenomenon that is here to stay.

That said, there are also significant issues with the model in a post-pandemic world.

The 2022 MSI report found that working remotely puts businesses at significantly increased risk of intrusion by a cybersecurity attack, as often the same precautions that would be taken in an office environment cannot be taken. , or more likely just aren’t caught in a remote work scenario.

There’s also the issue that everyone in a team “experiences the same normality” if several members are in the office and others are working remotely. Sure, video chat programs can help establish a common approach and expectations, but there’s always the chance that remote workers will miss the corporate culture, or the important email, and feel increasingly invisible, rather than being part of the team. And in the other direction, there’s always this potential for one to be out of sight and have the ability to treat work as secondary from a distant location.

This is what has driven the trend of employee monitoring software in businesses of all sizes in the post-pandemic economic recovery period.

Big Brother watching you?

Understandably, many remote workers have reacted badly to the idea of ​​software that can essentially “track” their productivity when they’re out of the office. This is no doubt the reaction of someone who is not yet ready to work remotely and use the self-discipline at home imposed by the social structure of the workplace, or who works for a company that does not is not particularly comfortable with the continuation of the post-pandemic remote work model to exist.

Still, the attitude of distrust that employee monitoring software can engender is hard to shake: that sense of the company spying on your home or other remote work environment. In an office environment, the equivalent would be something like a logbook where you had to log out every time you took a toilet break, lunch break, or just went to visit Kevin in the accounts to check a number and stretch your legs at the same time. The feeling of being watched brings an inherent feeling of being considered untrustworthy.

This is what companies deploying modern employee monitoring software need to guard against or harden up against.

A need-to-know basis

Before applying employee monitoring software, it’s worth making some key decisions about what you need to know and why. This will, at the very least, give you an answer if the staff raises the notion that the technology is intrusive.

Do you need to know if staff are only (or mostly) focused on the website and workplace programs while at work? Are they using work equipment (laptops, tablets, phones) for non-business purposes (which costs the company money, time, or both)? Do you need to know every word they type during a workday? Or do you need to understand their productivity patterns, identify practice inefficiencies that could be corrected by working differently?

What granularity of data do you need to make effective management decisions about your remote workforce? Knowing this will help you decide if you need software on everything what work devices they use – including a work-owned cell phone – as well as whether you’re considering installing a keylogger (which will give you data on what they type on a work laptop), site tracking, to ensure they’re only viewing work-based websites on work equipment during work time, or other levels of employee monitoring software.

The scope of the problem

Doing this kind of assessment of the potential scope of your remote worker problem will also help you make smarter business decisions about the size (and budget) of the employee monitoring software you need. If you only have a handful of remote workers and only a small percentage of them don’t meet regular expectations or deadlines, for example, you’d be ill-advised to spend a lot of money on something like iMonitorSoft, which has extensive reporting capabilities and can report on up to 1,000 machines. For smaller scale issues, you can go with something like Labor Examiner – which has the ability to show you which sites your remote workers have accessed and provide you with time tracking statistics, but also has clear, smaller-scale pricing models that can help you troubleshoot your teleworkers without making them prohibitive. do this.

It should of course be obvious that the easiest way for staff working remotely to avoid any employee monitoring software is to use their own equipment when away from the office. Naturally, that gives you data in itself, and you can legitimately wonder why they’re not using company equipment, with appropriate levels of company cybersecurity protection, especially in light of the MSI 2022 report and the huge spike in cyberattacks that have been seen as a result of post-pandemic remote working.

Speak first, then follow

The bottom line about employee work software is that employers have the right to expect tasks to be completed in a timely manner and the right to understand why there aren’t any if and when they don’t. are not. Technology can absolutely give you the answers you need, but perhaps not without hurting an otherwise friendly relationship between staff and managers. As a first step, before deploying the hard-core technology solution, it’s worth setting aside time to talk to underperforming staff, understand recurring productivity issues, and agree on mitigation strategies that work for both parties.

In fact, in the end, “talk first, follow later” may be the real path to a successful remote work strategy in the post-Covid era.

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