Remote work has certainly made employees more independent from their superiors, if nothing else, then because they simply aren’t in the same physical location. That means you are never quite sure if the staff is watching funny videos or actually working.
While no one expects people to work for eight hours straight, it’s important to ensure that they are working on tasks that actually have high priority, and not just answer a few emails and go out for ice-cream and rollerblading for the rest of the day.
On the other hand, regardless of whether you have access to employer software to monitor staff, you can’t be looking over their shoulder constantly - nor is that any way to manage employees if you want them to be productive.
So, what should managers do to ensure productive work days from their employees?
Here are a few things you can implement.
Create Tasks With Expected End-Results and Deadlines
Whether it’s the manager or the employee the one who actually creates tasks in your chosen project management and time tracking software, each and every one of them needs to be thought-out beforehand.
That means that every task has to have a well-defined expected result and a realistic due date.
This will give all members of the team a clear picture of what needs to be done and in which time frame, so they can coordinate accordingly. You can’t have one employee creating bottlenecks where everyone else is waiting for them to finish so they can start with their part.
Even if that wasn’t the case, and no one is dependent upon the resolution of a particular task, missing deadlines can signal a much deeper issue that needs to be resolved in order to increase team productivity. Team monitoring software can be particularly useful in this respect.
For example, if your developer just can’t finish any task on time since they switched to a new coding platform, maybe that’s the wrong tool for them. It might be buggy or they might not have enough knowledge or practice to work in it effectively. That would mean you’d have to investigate which is it, and switch to another platform or organize training related to the new platform.
Moreover, all members of the team have to be crystal clear on what result makes a task complete. Slapping a date on it in your time tracking project software and resolving a task within that frame is not enough if the function is not working or the cake doesn’t have icing on it.
In any case, set measurable parameters for all tasks that will allow you to successfully monitor the progress.
Monitor Team Activity Regularly
Some managers don’t really care how much time an employee needs to complete a task and consequentially, how many hours they are actually working.
However, those bosses are rare as geniuses who can close 15.000 tasks a day and still clock in only four hours.
With distractions coming at us from all sides - computers, smartphones, colleagues, that one neighbor who plays loud music - it’s imperative that you know what the staff is doing and how productive they are while working.
Hence, having an employee time tracking app like Insightful keeping an eye on things makes everyone’s lives easier.
In order to develop good team dynamics, it’s crucial to be sure every team member can handle their assigned workload in a reasonable amount of time.
A tool like Insightful will give you actionable information that allows you to shift tasks from one team member to another or modify the processes should they prove ineffective for some reason.
Track Employee Internet Usage
Another good way to monitor employee behavior is to keep an eye on what websites they are spending their working hours on.
Screen capture is the new boss over your shoulder.
But it may not be enough on its own.
To really make sure the staff is being responsible in cyberspace, you can implement Insightful - innovative employee internet usage monitoring software.
Not only does it track your employees’ clock-in and clock-out times, keyboard and browsing activity, but it takes random screenshots while working and sends alerts about undesired behavior - long periods of inactivity or unproductive website and app usage (e.g. checking social media or inappropriate sites).
Insightful also allows a great deal of customization in terms of labeling productive, unproductive, and neutral behavior and websites. You can label websites and apps in Insightful’s website monitor software for which you know are decidedly productive or unproductive as such in terms of the work your team does.
For example, your developers have no business browsing social media during work hours, but for the marketing team that is inevitable for the tasks they are working on. So, you can make adjustments in how you view the productivity levels of your employees in that sense.
And it’s one of the things that make it one of the best software to monitor computer activity.
Keep Tabs on Remote Teams
Has the epidemic forced your entire company to go fully remote? Are you having trouble making sure it’s business as usual for your team? We understand your problem and have a solution for it.
If your employees are working remotely, they’re out of your eyesight. That means you may not always know what they are working on and how they are progressing.
You can fix that by implementing a remote desktop monitoring software, but for optimal results, the entire company culture must tilt in that direction as well.
Yes, remote work comes with a little bit more freedom for the staff, but that doesn’t mean we can all just appear on video calls in our pajamas and ping coworkers at 3 AM.
There are certain rules of engagement you should implement in order to bring the working atmosphere to as close as possible to when all the employees were working in the same office space.
- Establish core working hours - all members of the remote team must work at least part of the day in the same interval (for example, 10 AM - 2 PM)
- Use a good project management tool with time tracking - have a clear overview of all tasks and duties so nothing falls through the cracks
- Use only one communication platform - all teams must use the same communication tool so everyone is in the loop on issues relevant to their work
- Organize video call meetings - simulate the meeting atmosphere from the office with weekly sync meetings, etc.
These are just some examples of how you can speed up certain processes and boost productivity on the company level by minimizing delays and maintaining a professional, office-like environment with a little bit of help from monitoring software.
Every successfully run remote team has weekly meetings where they discuss the tasks done the week before and plans for the one that just started.
It’s a simple, but effective way of keeping everyone accountable and in the know about the progress on team assignments, as well as getting direct feedback on a task, results, or future decisions, such as which website monitor software to choose.
It’s an oldie but goodie that one.
But if you want to make sure the staff is on track in between those, you can introduce daily reports, for example. A variation of the weekly meetings would be for every employee to write their own summary of tasks (done and to do), and it has proven effective, if not a bit unnecessarily time-consuming.
To overcome that particular hurdle - and to get a better understanding of the productivity levels in your team - you can simply implement an employee reporting software that would allow you to see which projects and tasks they have been working on and how much time was spent on them.
Insightful offers one such solution and, what is more, allows you to immediately see if all the deadlines were met and what kind of workload each team member deals with.
You must keep a close eye on employees to ensure optimal productivity levels. Whether you all work in an office or are a remote team, tools like Insightful can aid you in that quest.
And while people do work more productively when they know they’re being watched, to initiate a sustainable change in the company culture, you should reveal that you want to implement monitoring software and include them in the choosing process. That way, they can better see it as an aiding tool and not a form of strict control.
This article was originally written on August 14th, 2019 by Aleksa Misic. It was updated on June 26th, 2020 by Aleksandra Djordjevic.