Telling your employees to work from home is a forced yet necessary measure during global pandemic. Many conscious executives understand that if even one office employee gets infected, it can paralyze the entire company for a long time.
But even that is nothing compared to the risk to people’s lives and their health, especially for those who’re over 45.
We know a lot about transitioning employees to home office mode firsthand, seeing how we’ve been helping companies organize monitoring of remote employees for five years now.
Furthermore, over the past two weeks we had around a thousand organizations from all over the world approach us after they were faced with such challenges in relation to the events happening all around the world.
This article is our way to share our knowledge about transitioning employees to remote work and give some practical advice on how to make this process as painless as possible for your business.
Note: In this article, we will be discussing the employees who work at the computer.
How to organize the process of transitioning employees to remote work?
There are three main options for that:
- Employees work on their own computers. It's convenient if they don't need any specific software or if the software is located in the cloud. For example, sales manager only needs to have access to a couple of cloud bases, accountant – to 1С server;
- You give employees work computers. This is a good option if they need specific software for work or if the worker doesn’t have a computer at home. This approach is most convenient if your employees work on laptops, but over extended period of time (and, as you know, the quarantine can drag on) it’s not a problem to move even a stationary computer as well;
- You organize remote access to RDP via VPN. It's a good intermediate option. Does your designer need access to corporate file storage and a computer with enough power? Run a remote desktop on their workstation and let them use it.
Keep in mind that if you provide employees with remote access to work servers or stations, you need to take care of corporate data security. This is especially true if you work with personal data that’s protected by law. Secure connection channels, filters by IP and MAC addresses, two-level authorization – by taking care of information security in the beginning, you insure yourself against many problems in the future.
Also pay attention to ensuring that the employee at home has quality broadband and high-speed Internet. If their Internet connection at home isn’t enough to complete tasks, you can suggest that employees connect a second provider with sufficient speed characteristics for the duration of their work. And it should be done at the expense of the organization, of course.
How to monitor remote employees?
Numerous studies suggest that employees work even more efficiently from home than they do in the office. For example, the Gallop study reports that when an employee gets switched to remote work, their performance increases by 20%.
We have no reason to doubt such credible publication, but that study was focused only on the employees who transferred to remote work deliberately and willingly, knowing exactly what they will need and being sure they’ll find the strength for self-organization.
However, there is no research on the productivity of the employees who had to change their usual work routines and work from home because they were told to do so (for example, in the context of a global pandemic). In our experience, productivity of such workers will be significantly lower.
An employee who’s used to working in the office associates his home primarily with rest, so even the most motivated employees, while working from home, can start slacking and their productivity will inevitably get lower. Therefore, you should be prepared that transition to home office in your company will create an increased workload on management.
If your staff works on computers provided by the company – or through remote access to your own workstation – you have every right to download employee monitoring software Kickidler on these machines. Wherever a company-owned computer is, it remains the property of the company, and it’s meant to be used strictly for work. And you, of course, have the right to monitor how your equipment is being used.
As for the case when an employee works on a home computer, we recommend that the staff be offered the following framework:
- A person creates new user account that’s used exclusively for work;
- They install all the programs they need and Kickidler module that tracks work activity – which is meant to be the same as on the office computer;
- Employees work under work accounts and use personal accounts for private matters.
In this case, our program will monitor only the actions during the employee’s work hours without interacting with their personal data. That way, there’s no violation of privacy.
How to organize work with remote employees, and what should the manager be able to do?
Earlier we’ve discussed the technical side of transitioning to remote work, but what about the organization of the workflow itself? According to statistics, during the process of switching to remote work, workload on management almost doubles. We believe the most important thing here is to follow these three key tips:
Tip 1. Individual approach is the foundation of everything
While in the office, the person automatically adjusts to its rhythm, but at home they live the way they want to. Some people are more comfortable working precisely from 10 am to 6 pm, others prefer to approach work in several sittings a couple of hours each, still others become productive only around 8 pm. We are all different, and hence the main rule of remote work is as follows:
If an employee’s habits don't interfere with work, don't ask them to change these habits
Of course, sales manager should work according to a normal schedule, from morning to evening – the way most companies work. But programmers, accountants, engineers aren’t obliged to adhere to such schedule if the specifics of their work don’t require it. Schedule a couple of staff meetings when it’s convenient for everyone – in most cases that’s enough to control your team remotely – and after that monitor not the amount of time a person spends working, but the results they achieve.
Tip 2. Create an atmosphere of trust and engagement
By offering employees an option to work remotely, you automatically give them certain benefits. More flexible schedule, more comfortable working conditions, less control – all these factors will work only if your subordinates are actually interested in carrying out their duties.
By experiencing a bit more freedom, a person quickly gets used to controlling their own schedule, but at the same time they begin to react more strongly to the acts of despotism. Unjustified (emphasis on that word) changes in work conditions, constant emergencies, tasks that have to be done right at the moment – all these things seriously strike at the motivation of remote employees, and with that their efficiency decreases as well.
Try to perceive the remote worker not so much as a subordinate, but as a contractor or a partner. Explain to them the task and outline their KPI and then show them that you trust their ability to solve business problems. Yet…
Tip 3. Trust but verify
Motivation and trust – these things are obviously important, but you still need to track the amount of time your remote employees spend working. That will help you see at least who’s handling their tasks well. Here’s a simple example. Let’s say you have a programmer, James Brown, who handles his job well. He pushes the code on time, doesn’t miss deadlines, and at a glance it seems that everything’s fine... Except James spends 12-13 hours daily on work tasks instead of scheduled 6-8 hours. At this rate, your employee will burn out in a month or two, and you’ll have to look for replacement – and that brings unnecessary hassle and unplanned expenses.
The problem with remote employees is that you don’t see exactly how they work. In the office, the team leader would notice that James doesn’t finish his tasks on time, and he would realize that this employee needs to be transferred to another task that matches his skills more. Yet when it comes to remote interaction… Well, trust us, you can notice such things remotely as well!
To do that, use time managers that help calculate the number of hours spent on a task. We have an instrument like that. It’s called Autokick, and it’s part of Kickidler’s functionality. This module tracks activity at the computer and automatically generates reports, helping you stay on top of everything. It’s definitely useful for both the manager and the employee.
What problems do employers of remote workers face and how to solve them?
So we’ve shared with you the ways you can organize remote work in your company, and now let’s talk about the problems you are likely to face. There are only three main ones:
Problem 1. Declining productivity
Previously we’ve talked about what advantages an employee gets from remote work. Individual schedule, comfortable work conditions – it’s all great, but... Unfortunately, practice shows that many people in an environment of independence quickly let their discipline slip. Not everyone is used to self-control. If a person worked all his life in the office, where they were under somebody else’s supervision and surrounded by colleagues, at home they will automatically be less productive.
There’s only one solution – don’t weaken oversight. Your employees should know that work is work – no matter where they are, at home or in the corporate office. Monitor the KPI of each employee, try to figure out the reasons for any delays or errors as soon as possible and always keep the upper hand. Did you notice in Kickidler that manager’s lunch got extended over several hours? Call them; ask them what happened and why they aren’t doing their job. A couple of such calls, and the person will do better.
After transferring your office to remote work, control should become tighter than it was in the office – at least in the beginning. That’s why we recommend you use time management modules. If your people know that you’re monitoring all their workdays, it will be much easier for them to overcome procrastination and focus on their tasks.
Problem 2. Communication trouble
Even in the office environment, interaction between certain employees can often become a problem. Meetings where several departments are involved can be a real headache. You definitely know how hard it is to schedule such meetings so that it’s convenient for everyone. And then, when it comes to remote work, the simplest correspondence between teams can drag on for weeks.
In order to avoid such problems, draw up a detailed description of all the standards, create a schedule and make sure that all employees adhere to it. Here’s an example for one week:
- Every day at 1 pm I’m expecting everyone to connect to the staff meeting through videoconferencing;
- By Wednesday, by 6 pm, all Project A materials should be uploaded to the repository;
- On Thursday, at 2 pm, I need a report on Project B, the presentation should be done;
- I’m expecting replies to emails sent in the interval from 10 am to 6 pm within no more than an hour.
The more transparent and understandable all your requirements are, the easier it will be to manage a remote team. Sure, you’ll still have to plan the time for joint events by taking into consideration work schedules of the participants of such events. But once everything is settled, there can be no discussion. There’s a staff meeting planned? Everybody should attend it.
Problem 3. Decreasing involvement
When a person is working from home, alone with a computer, they quickly lose contact with their team. It’s especially true for people who are used to actively interacting with colleagues – communicating, generating ideas, creating something. Being in forced isolation, they quickly lose vitality and start moping around.
To avoid this, you need to maintain intra-corporate communication:
- Voice calls;
- Group chats with emoji, stickers and other ways to express emotions.
Remember that every person – wherever they are – is part of your company, an important member of your team. Be attentive to your people, stay in touch with them. That way, problems with remote employees will bypass you!
Kickidler Employee Monitoring Software
Did you like this post? Follow us on social media.