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How to Track Remote Productivity

Productivity is a measure of how efficient the workforce is. A productive workforce gets more work done in less time and has better results to show for it. In a competitive work environment, it benefits both employees and the company to be as productive as possible. Increased productivity can give the organization an edge over its peers, such as making it the preferred choice for clients who value speed while maintaining quality. For the employee, being more productive can raise their standing in the organization, putting them in line for benefits like work promotion.

For these reasons, management is always happy with productive workers while taking a dim view of those perceived to waste time while at work. Whether the employee is physically present at the office or telecommuting, companies want to be assured that they are hard at work, completing set tasks.

This has given rise to the concept of tracking. Most organizations now use some form of employee surveillance to make sure that their workers are actually doing tasks during work hours. Tracking at the workplace helps a business to identify weak areas and calculate the average time spent on projects. Data from the monitoring can be used to devise in-house guidelines to boost efficiency and cut down on time-wasting.

With the outbreak of a novel coronavirus and the WHO upgrading it to a pandemic, most businesses in affected countries have mandated their employees to telecommute for the time being. Essentially, COVID-19 accelerated what was already on the rise: the number of companies that rely on remote employees. While some businesses have a remote employee workforce, others contract some of their work outside the organization. In both cases, they need to ensure that the productivity of the workers does not lag.

The Need for Remote Workforce Monitoring

The benefits of a remote workforce have been well documented, which is why many companies outsource work to qualified employees from all over the world. In a world dominated by technology, the need to have workers physically present in the office building has never been less critical. Remote labour ensures companies can hire the best minds anywhere rather than restrict themselves to a pool limited by proximity to a physical building.

There is, however, one important danger that a company that depends on remote employees constantly grapples with: What are the workers doing with their time? Without on-site monitoring, it can be difficult to adequately verify that people are putting in the work they are being paid for.

Hence, the development of various techniques to measure the productivity of remote employees. Remote worker monitoring, including time tracking techniques, helps a company to adopt employee strategies that make it more efficient, productive and successful.

From both a profit and cost perspective, tracking remote employees' hours makes perfect sense. Figuring out exactly how much time is spent on a client's project helps the organization to bill the client as accurately as possible. It also helps to cut down on overcompensation for staff, since how many hours they worked can be accurately measured.

This information will be of tremendous help to the organization. Therefore, remote managers are constantly on the lookout for the best ways to accurately gauge the productivity of those under their watch. There are many reasons why it is in the best interest of everyone for the productivity of off-site workers to be measured. Below is a roundup of the most important.

Remote monitoring identifies employee peculiarities

Remote monitoring and time tracking help the company to identify each employee's work patterns. By tracking start and end times and the average number of hours spent completing a task, the relative speed of work for each person can be determined. Moreover, areas of focus can be apportioned based on how well specific employees perform on each portion of a task.

By monitoring remote workers, areas where improvements are needed can be noted and gently pointed out so they can improve. They can also be trained in the requisite skills to help them upgrade their current performance. Moreover, by monitoring employees' activities during work hours, the need for constant and inefficient feedback mechanisms is negated since the tracking already provides most of the necessary data for the company to make considered decisions going forward.

Remote monitoring makes everyone more accountable

No accountability between workers and employers, no trust. Both sides of the working relationship need to trust each other. The company bosses need to believe that those they employ are actually working in the organization's interests, while the employees will be happier in the knowledge that their efforts are being recorded. Time monitoring helps to build a bridge of transparency between managers and remote employees, the latter being more motivated to turn in quality work on time.

When left unchecked, this problem can lead to work inefficiencies. Thankfully, an attendance tracker or time monitoring software can help supervisors generate comprehensive labor analyses to identify and resolve these issues. Consequently, they will be able to assign the right tasks to the right employees.

The same principle goes for independent contractors and freelancers. With time monitoring put in place, they can bring out their best work with peace of mind, knowing that their work hours are being documented independently. Therefore, there is less chance of billing conflicts when invoice day comes around.

Remote monitoring saves costs

One underrated bonus of time tracking is the cost savings the company can benefit from. Most remote work is contracted out on a fixed rate per hour or by using some other work constant. Tracking the remote workers when they are working tells the company exactly how long they worked and how much work they did. This helps to more accurately calculate wages and salaries while protecting from dishonest work invoices.

Remote monitoring can positively impact profits

Remote time tracking tells the organization which people are doing the best work in the least time. Thus, it helps with assigning important aspects of future projects to the right people who will give their all. There is no gainsaying the fact that clients love a company that delivers ahead of schedule, and time tracking helps the company figure out employees who will give them the best choice of satisfying such clients.

The happier the clients are, the more likely they will come back for more and the higher the chances of attracting more clients with bigger contracts. Thus, simple time tracking, allied with astute management decisions, can go a long way to boosting the organization's fortunes.

Remote monitoring makes the management more efficient

With remote time tracking, the management has less worry about checking on the activities of the workers. They can focus on the core management functions, safe in the knowledge that software is performing the necessary supervisory functions.

Putting Remote Monitoring in Place

Implementing remote monitoring and time tracking puts a company in good stead to achieve more efficiency and productivity in a competitive market. Technology has made the task of keeping an eye on employees easier than it was a decade or two ago for sure. Even so, a company shouldn't adopt time tracking just because other companies are doing so.

Processes need to be followed to implement a good time tracking system for the telecommuting workforce.

  • Be clear about your time tracking goals. There should be a clear reason for implementing remote monitoring. It can be an aid to increase billing per project, keep remote employees locked in on their work, or measure performance. The main reason should be clear and unambiguous. Only then can the right software be chosen and implemented properly.
  • Choose the right software. For this, balancing company needs with the best practices is recommended. For example, software with the best remote monitoring tools in the world won't help much if it proves too intrusive for your workers. Also, decide if you're going for purely time tracking or wish to add advanced activity monitoring features as well. Your choice of software should reflect the company's major remote monitoring aims.
  • Present the policy to staff. This is where the policy will either sink or swim. Your staff needs to be receptive to the new monitoring policy. In an era of increasing concern about endless surveillance, this is very important. Expound on how the policy will bring out the best in everybody and accurately reflect the output of outstanding employees. Present it as a measure to further encourage two-way accountability.
  • Refine the policy based on feedback. Encourage everybody to share feedback about the time tracking policy. The ensuing days, weeks and months should be used to iron out initial post-implementation kinks.

How to Track Remote Productivity

Ultimately, being online all the time doesn't mean the worker is always available to work. Even when they are, it doesn't necessarily mean they are focused. The internet is, after all, the greatest source of distraction from work the world has ever known. Moreover, working remotely gives the employee more flexibility to decide what to do with their time, and their decision might not always be in the best interests of their employer.

A few years back, it was almost impossible to monitor your remote employees during work hours. Now, thanks to technology, companies can monitor and track the performance of telecommuting employees. To be clear, this doesn't count as spying. Rather, it is a form of online supervision that helps companies check on the performance and efficiency of workers on the go.

There are different modern tools and apps out there that help organizations check what their remote employees are up to during working hours. A browser toolbar, a plug-in, an extension, or an activity monitoring app like Traqq can be used for this purpose.

Traqq lets companies, employees and freelancers take ultimate control of remote work. It is suitable for everyone in every industry and can help anyone who wishes to find out just how productive they are. Organizations can apply it company-wide to foster a spirit of transparency and accountability through advanced remote time tracking features that will give the company bosses a clear, concise idea of employee productivity.