remote employees

Managing and monitoring your remote employees

remote employees

If you’re like many companies, the pandemic shutdown propelled your corporate culture into a new normal. The most significant change involved the transitioning of office staff into a remote workforce. Out of necessity, you set aside any lingering anxieties about managing remote employees. Working at home was supposed to be a short-term survival strategy, but it didn’t work out that way. 

Many employees realized that they didn’t need to sit in an office to do their jobs. Some employees now want full-time or hybrid remote work schedules. This demand has left companies struggling through management vs. monitoring dilemmas.

  • Who should employers monitor?: All employees? Lower-level employees? Employees you don’t trust?
  • When should you monitor them?: All day? At scheduled intervals? Randomly, without notice?
  • How should you monitor employees?: Company-issued computers? Time documenting software? Surveillance systems that monitor everything all day?

Is monitoring taking the place of management?

In the absence of face-to-face connections, many companies are leaning on technology to manage employees. Solutions range from bare-bones timekeeping apps to all-inclusive, spy-style surveillance software.

  • Time tracking: Companies like Clockify and Time Doctor offer a variety of time tracking tools. Remote workers actively initiate them when they go on and off the clock. This activity puts the responsibility on the employee to show their work hours. 
  • Employee monitoring/surveillance: A growing number of companies like Teramind and InterGuard offer comprehensive surveillance capabilities. Their software tracks a worker’s computer time, viewed screens, social media engagement, keystrokes, messaging, and other activities. Some software incorporates facial recognition capability and employee “behavior rules.” Others give managers remote control of an employee’s computer.

ExpressVPN’s recent survey of 2,000 employers determined that 78% of employers monitor remote employees and use ongoing surveillance despite ethical concerns about employee surveillance. Ninety percent track time and activities.

Some companies use this generated data as a management tool. For example, they monitor and evaluate performance, track productivity, and document activities. They also use surveillance data to make decisions about firing employees. 

Yes, monitoring your employees is legal

Some advanced monitoring capabilities seem to invade a worker’s privacy. When an employee accesses and creates work on your company’s behalf, you have a legal right to monitor his work. Federal Code 18 USC Chapter 119: §2511 exempts employers from specific federal wire and electronic communications and interception laws. When an employee uses a company-owned computer, it reinforces these rights. 

Remote employees don’t like being monitored

ExpressVPN’s survey also analyzed some not-so-surprising responses from 2,000 remote employees. 

  • A third of the employees surveyed didn’t believe their employers were monitoring their performance. 
  • Over half expressed stress over the idea of being remotely monitored. 
  • Nearly half of the employees said they would take a pay cut to work without being monitored. 

Design a less invasive monitoring option 

Many businesses are managing their remote employees using computer-generated data. Sadly, this diminishes the human element that’s so important to sound management practices. Besides, if monitoring and surveillance remain a stressor for valuable employees, it can be a sure way to run them away. 

It would help if you didn’t have to give up all your high-tech employee monitoring/management options. Instead, it would be best if you considered using them more prudently. Instead of management by computer analytics, surveillance, and keystrokes, consider designing a remote staff management plan. Here are a few options to consider.

  • A daily schedule of check-ins: Communication via Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, or even by phone. 
  • On-call availability: If you feel compelled to talk to your remote employees, make sure they understand that you consider them on-call during a designated period during the day. That doesn’t mean that you have to call them, but you should expect them to respond if you do. 
  • Weekly meetings: Discuss your employee’s progress and accomplishments, either by phone or in-person meeting. Consider giving each remote employee an assigned office day.
  • Time-keeping software: Monitoring doesn’t have to be invasive. You can use a system that lets your employees log on-the-clock hours and tasks. This system will allow them to take advantage of work schedule flexibility, one of the most significant benefits of working at home. 
  • Measure Productivity: Use non-invasive software to track your employee’s productivity. Monitor your employees’ actual work product. Then, when they get their required work done, you’ll know they’re doing their job.

Contact Health Consultants Group

If you’d like to know more about employee monitoring and management, please visit our contact page or give us a call at (800) 367-2482.