Employee monitoring: How to track remote employees' productivity


Rachita Jain


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By positively tracking productivity, you can identify ways to improve efficiency and reduce waste. Furthermore, employee monitoring can be a valuable tool for your company to identify areas where your employees may need additional training, support, or resources to become more efficient and effective in their roles. However, it's essential to approach employee tracking ethically to ensure that employees' rights and privacy are respected. Tracking your employees' productivity can benefit you in several ways, such as:
  • Improved Transparency: When you track employee productivity honorably, you create a transparent work environment that fosters trust between you and your employees.
  • Enhanced Motivation: Employee monitoring can help your employees stay motivated. You can provide them with clear goals and objectives and help them see their progress toward those goals.
  • Fairness: Impartial employee productivity tracking ensures employees are treated fairly and equitably, regardless of their position or role in the company.
  • Improved Work-Life Balance: Legitimate employee productivity tracking can help you identify when employees are overworked or experiencing burnout, allowing them to take steps to improve work-life balance and promote employee well-being.

The do's and don'ts of employee productivity tracking

Tracking remote employees' productivity can be sensitive, as it involves monitoring employees' activities outside the workplace. Here are some do's and don'ts to keep in mind when tracking remote employees' productivity:
Clearly communicate the purpose and methods of tracking: Let employees know why you are tracking their productivity, what data you will be collecting, and how you will be using it. This will help build trust and ensure that employees understand the process.
Monitor employees without their knowledge or consent: Do not track employees' productivity without their knowledge or consent. This can be seen as a violation of privacy and damages the trust between employees and employers.
Use objective and relevant metrics: Use metrics that accurately reflect employee performance and are pertinent to their job responsibilities. This will help ensure that the data collected is helpful for both you and your employees.
Use irrelevant or subjective metrics: Do not use metrics that are irrelevant to the employee's job responsibilities or are personal in nature. This can result in inaccurate data that does not reflect the employee's true performance.
Respect employee privacy: Ensure that employees' privacy is respected when tracking their productivity. Avoid monitoring personal information or activities that are not relevant to their job responsibilities.
Micromanage employees: Do not use tracking as a way to micromanage employees or monitor their every move. This can result in a toxic work environment that undermines employee autonomy and productivity.
Please provide feedback and support: Use the data collected to provide employees with feedback and support that can help them improve their job performance. This can be done through regular performance reviews or coaching sessions.
Punish employees for low productivity without support: Employee monitoring should only be used as a way to punish employees for low productivity if they require support or feedback to help them improve.
Be transparent: The entire employee monitoring process should be transparent and not vague. Rather than monitoring your employees every hour, it would be better if you focused on their comprehensive performance.
Use tracking as a replacement for effective management: Do not use tracking as a replacement for effective management practices, such as providing clear job expectations, setting goals, and offering support and feedback to employees.

How to track remote employees' productivity

1. Set clear guidelines

Your remote employees will be able to effectively manage their time if you establish clear expectations.
Your employees need to be aware of the due date for their job, especially if the project has a deadline. With the assistance of various employee monitoring tools, you can effortlessly arrange tasks.
You won't have to wait around for the work to pile up this way. Instead, you can quickly track your team's productivity, remind them of the deadline, and interact with them.
You just have a backup plan. These plans come in handy in case something goes wrong. You can communicate with your team using such employee monitoring applications throughout the workflow and receive immediate updates about their productivity.

2. Time tracking software

There are several time-tracking tools available for employee monitoring. Here are a few popular options:
  • Toggl: Toggl is a simple and user-friendly employee monitoring software that allows employees to track their time on different projects and tasks. It also provides detailed reports that can help you track employees' productivity.
  • RescueTime: RescueTime is a time tracking and productivity tool that runs in the background of an employee's computer or mobile device. It tracks the time spent on different applications and websites and provides detailed reports to help employees and managers identify areas where they can improve productivity.
  • Time Doctor: Time Doctor is a comprehensive time tracking and employee monitoring tool that tracks the time spent on different projects, websites, and applications. It also provides features like screen monitoring, activity tracking, and productivity analysis to help you track employees.
  • Hubstaff: Hubstaff is a time-tracking and project management tool that provides features like time tracking, task management, and employee monitoring. It also allows managers to track employees' GPS location and take screenshots of their computer screens to monitor productivity.
  • DeskTime: It is a time tracking and productivity tool that tracks employee activity and provides detailed reports on their time usage. It also includes features like website and application monitoring, project tracking, and task management.
It's important to note that while these tools can be helpful for monitoring employee productivity, they should be used ethically and with employee consent.

3. Task management software

  1. Asana: Asana is a popular task management tool and employee monitoring software that allows teams to create, assign, and track tasks and projects. It also provides features like timelines, calendars, and progress tracking to help you track your remote employees' productivity.
  1. Trello: Trello is a visual task management tool that uses boards, lists, and cards to organize tasks and projects. It also allows managers to assign tasks, set due dates, and track progress to help you with employee productivity tracking.
  1. Monday.com: Monday.com is a versatile task management tool that allows teams to track projects, tasks, and workflows. It also includes features like time tracking, progress tracking, and reporting.
  1. Jira: It is a project management tool that allows teams to track tasks and issues in a centralized location. It also includes features like agile boards, sprint planning, and reporting to help you with employee productivity tracking.
  1. Basecamp: As a project management and team communication tool, Basecamp allows teams to track tasks, schedules, and deadlines. It also includes features like file sharing, messaging, and progress tracking.

4. Set defined key performance indicators

KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are essential metrics that you can use for employee monitoring. Here are some KPIs for employee monitoring:
  • Productivity rate: It measures the amount of work an employee completes within a given time period. It is often measured by the number of tasks completed, the amount of time spent on specific projects, or the number of units produced.
  • Quality of work: This KPI measures the accuracy and completeness of an employee's work. It can be measured by the number of errors or defects, customer satisfaction ratings, or performance reviews.
  • Attendance rate: It measures the number of days an employee is present at work. It can be measured by tracking attendance records or calculating the number of absences.
  • Time management: Time management KPIs measure employees' ability to manage their time effectively. It can be measured by tracking the amount of time spent on different tasks or by comparing estimated vs actual completion times.
  • Sales performance: This KPI measures an employee's ability to generate sales revenue. It can be measured by tracking sales figures, customer acquisition rates, or customer retention rates.
It's important to note that KPIs should be chosen carefully based on the specific goals and objectives of the business. They should also be used in a fair and transparent way to employees, with clear expectations and regular feedback.

5. Self-reporting

Self-reporting can be a valuable tool for employee monitoring when used appropriately and in conjunction with other methods of monitoring and evaluation. It can encourage employee ownership and accuracy while saving you time and effort.
  1. Encourages ownership: Self-reporting allows employees to take ownership of their work and productivity, which can lead to increased motivation and engagement.
  1. Accurate data: Employees are in the best position to accurately report on their own work, as they are directly involved in the tasks they are completing.
  1. Employees may be tempted to overstate their productivity levels, so it's essential to ensure checks and balances to verify the accuracy of self-reported data.
  1. To ensure accurate data, it's important to establish consistent reporting procedures and expectations for all employees.
  1. Self-reported data may be subject to personal preference, so it's vital to ensure that employees understand the importance of providing truthful and accurate information.
  1. It's vital to ensure that self-reported data is kept confidential and not used in a way that violates employee privacy.

6. Virtual Meetings

Virtual meetings are an effective tool for employee monitoring, as they provide an opportunity for you to connect with employees, track progress, and provide feedback. Here are some benefits and considerations when using virtual meetings for employee monitoring:
  1. Real-time communication: Virtual meetings allow for real-time communication between you and employees, which can help you to identify and address issues more quickly.
  1. Personal connection: Virtual meetings can help to build an emotional relationship between you and employees, which can improve morale and motivation.
  1. Collaboration: Virtual meetings facilitate collaboration between team members, which can lead to increased productivity and innovation.
  1. Flexibility: Virtual meetings can be conducted from anywhere, which can be particularly useful for remote or distributed teams.
  1. Technical issues: Technical issues, such as poor internet connection or equipment failure, can impact the effectiveness of virtual meetings.
  1. Time differences: Virtual meetings can be challenging when participants are in different time zones, as it may be difficult to find a suitable time for all parties to participate.
  1. Distractions: Virtual meetings can be more susceptible to distractions, as participants may be working in their home environment.
  1. Participation: Virtual meetings can be less engaging for participants, which may impact their willingness to participate fully.

7. Regular check-ins

Regular check-ins are an effective method for monitoring employee productivity and ensuring that employees are on track to meet their goals. Here are some tips for conducting effective regular check-ins:
  1. Schedule regular check-ins: Schedule regular check-ins with employees to discuss their progress, challenges, and goals. These check-ins can be conducted on a weekly or biweekly basis, depending on the needs of the employee and the organization.
  1. Set an agenda: Set an agenda for each check-in to ensure that the discussion remains focused and productive. This can include a review of completed tasks, a discussion on any challenges or roadblocks, and a review of upcoming assignments or deadlines.
  1. Listen actively: Active listening is a crucial component of effective check-ins. Listen to employees' concerns and feedback, and provide support and guidance where needed.
  1. Provide feedback: Regular check-ins provide an opportunity for managers to give feedback to employees on their performance. This feedback should be specific, constructive, and focused on helping the employee improve their performance.
  1. Follow up: Following up on action items and commitments made during check-ins is essential to ensuring that employees stay on track and continue to make progress towards their goals.
  1. Be flexible: Regular check-ins should be flexible and adaptable to the needs of the employee and the organization. Managers should be willing to adjust the frequency and format of check-ins as needed to ensure they are effective.

Safety measures during employee monitoring

While employee monitoring can provide several benefits to organizations, it's essential to take steps to ensure that employee privacy and rights are respected. Here are some safety measures that organizations can take to ensure that monitoring is conducted fairly and respectfully:
Clearly communicate the purpose of monitoring: Clearly communicating the purpose of monitoring to employees will ensure that employees understand the need for monitoring and are more likely to be supportive of the process.
Obtain employee consent: You should obtain employee consent before implementing monitoring. This can be done through a written policy that outlines the purpose of monitoring and the types of monitoring that will be conducted.
Minimise invasive monitoring: Opt for monitoring methods that are minimally invasive and respect employee privacy. For example, rather than monitoring every keystroke or website visited, you may opt to monitor only certain types of activity, such as email or chat communication.
Limit access to monitoring data: Access to monitoring data should be limited to those who have a legitimate need to know, such as managers or IT staff. Data should be stored securely and protected from unauthorized access.
Respect employee rights: Employee monitoring should be conducted in a way that respects employee rights, including the right to privacy.

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