Monitoring employees while working from home

Published October 01, 2021 -
Employee Monitoring

The past several months have been a challenge for business owners across the country due to a resurgence of COVID-19. While many have recently been forced to close at some point, other employers and their staff had, or still have been forced into remote working.

This is reflected in queries from employers to Employsure’s advice line, which has seen a 35% jump in calls since the start of the year from business owners concerned over how to best manage their employees as a result of having to pivot the way they operate.

While remote working has become common practice, there is still the debate on how to best monitor employee productivity without being intrusive. While some may argue managers who monitor employees can be intrusive, if it’s done correctly it can lead to a better connection with staff and greater results for the company.

“Communication is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to monitoring remote employees, and some workers may feel disconnected since they don’t have any face-to-face interaction with management and co-workers,” said Employsure employment relations specialist Maddie McKenzie.

“What we’ve learnt from clients who call our advice line is by keeping those communication channels open with employees, it helps to add clarity to what the business is doing and what it expects of its staff. There are a number of steps employers can take to ensure their business can run smoothly, and maintaining an active and open line of communication with employees is imperative to success.”

Establish a Check-In Structure:

Employers may be worried that, without supervision, employees may not work as hard or as efficiently. On the other hand, many employees may struggle with less managerial support or feel that their remote manager is out of touch with their needs.

One quick way employers can potentially resolve this issue is to establish regular check-ins. These meetings can make it easier to detect performance issues and give employees an opportunity to raise any issues they may have.

Video calls are best used when a complex, collaborative or sensitive conversation has to take place, whereas emails are the best place to send formal communications to staff. Neither of these technologies however are best equipped for urgent, simple conversations. Something like an individual messaging service that can be installed on mobile devices would be more suitable.

Using digital software to assign tasks to employees and see what projects they are working on is key to success and can help show what direction the business is working towards. Online platforms like BrightHR can help boost a team’s output by allowing employers to track when their employees are active and what their work hours are.

Develop and Implement a Working From Home Policy:

Establishing a working from home policy which also covers health and safety expectations is essential when outlining expectations to employees. An effective policy helps both the employer and employee keep better track of obligations, and what needs to change or be altered if things don’t work well.

Keeping track of what office equipment an employee might need, such as a suitable desk or chair is also necessary. An ergonomic checklist should be implemented so that an employee can effectively work from home correctly without running the risk of neck and back pain.

Demonstrate Trust:

Having open discussions with workers can add trust to the working relationship and make them feel empowered. If any information is collected from these meetings, employees should be made aware of it.

While giving employees the freedom to perform their duties will lead to a strong relationship, there is a line employers should try to not overstep.

“Employers need to avoid appearing as this looming figure that watches every single move the employee makes,” continued Ms McKenzie.

“While monitoring employees is necessary, over-monitoring will have a negative effect on the trust that has been built. Employers must demonstrate this trust in their employees by allowing them to reach deadlines without being micromanaged constantly. Increasing the consistency of check-ins and keeping a closer eye on an employee’s tasks should only occur if the employee is performing poorly.

“Employers who effectively monitor and manage their employees working from home will generally see more positive results for their business and better engagement from staff.”


Further enquiries:

Matthew Bridges

[email protected]

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