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Managing in a virtual working environment

In the past few years millions of employers have adapted to a virtual working environment with more continuing to do so, and the need to track team progress has never been more apparent as virtual and hybrid workspaces become the norm.

Managing a remote workforce is not a simple process, especially where managers are not on top of their teams and their progress.

Also, some employees are just not suited to a virtual working arrangement, whether it’s due to a distracting home environment, or because they thrive in a team environment, or they struggle to manage their time effectively.

However, the link between productivity and technology means that companies can be assured that virtual employees are in fact working from home by monitoring the tools they use to go about their daily activities.

That is because the reliance on technology, systems and applications is higher than ever before.

Digitisation in the workplace

Most companies are using an array of technologies, applications and business systems that are important to remain competitive.

Technology is a vital enabler of business success. Ensuring virtual teams are effective and efficient using these systems has become a top priority for leaders today.

Think about the technology in your business that employees use to do their work: email, office applications like Word, Excel and PowerPoint, online meeting software and video conferencing apps, CRM systems, helpdesk software, quotation and accounting systems, search engines, social media…it is an increasingly digital world of work.

And it is because we have these technologies that we are able to provide tools to monitor productivity, giving powerful insights to help deliver on your business objectives.

Monitoring work activity

While some detractors of employee monitoring say that it will erode trust between and employer and employee, the simple fact is that employees are provided with company assets to do their job, and being able to assess the use of these assets is an important part of performance management.

Monitoring the technology systems employees use is a complementary addition to the performance management process that you have with employees.

Performance Management supports accomplishing the strategic objectives of your business and includes clarifying expectations, setting objectives, identifying goals, providing feedback, and reviewing results.

With objective data you can solve problems and successes together with employees based on insights driven by “hard” data, in conjunction with examining their results.

This also provides vital backup for you to have performance discussions or formal performance reviews, when necessary.

The reality is that some employees won’t perform well, and some don’t put in the effort, these individuals will eventually either be managed out the organisation or turned around, but how long will it take to realise that these individuals are problematic, and at what cost to your company?

Tools like WorkStatz allow you to address and manage issues faster and proactively, and if need be, provide accurate evidence for HR discussions or hearings.

Virtual working and micromanagement

When one looks at micromanagement you need to dive deeper; when you micromanage as a default it is usually driven by a lack of information.

In some cases where trust has been broken or performance is waning, micromanaging may be necessary, but in most cases, it is related to the Fear of the Unknown.

Simply put the Fear of the Unknown is what you feel when you do not have the information or assurance that your team is on track.

This is also tied into management by hindsight – if you only find out after the fact that there is a problem, you cannot go back and fix it.

That time is lost. You are not 100% sure that employees are in fact working at their optimum, therefore you may micromanage.

And this is further exacerbated by the shift to remote working where you and your team are disconnected.

On the one hand you feel the need to look over employees’ shoulders and therefore overcommunicate just to stay on top of work progress.

And then you have the employee who is working under the constant pressure of check-ins with little room to work at their own pace.

This is where employee monitoring tools are a big advantage to both you and employees.

By analysing trends in the information provided, you have assurance that the employee is on the right track, and the employee can just get on with it.

Plus, the deeper insights that are revealed in the data allows you to have an empowering discussion or engagement without second-guessing the work.

While these tools do not examine the quality of the work because they are not inspecting down to the level of document content, they do give valuable insight into the habits and behaviors of employees when using systems and company resources.

So, when used in conjunction with discussions and reports, both you and the employee are able to see “under the hood” so to speak, at habits they may not even be aware of.

By tweaking and guiding employees, ultimately you have a stronger team that is based on objective information that you can rely on.

Technology is evolving and the amount of data being emitted and consumed is staggering.

With it comes the ability to interrogate this data and look for patterns you previously were not able to find because the data was just too much to analyse; therefore, data analytics has become a vital tool for managers.

A tool like WorkStatz provides critical and objective insights to help employees navigate their daily activities.

Micromanagement is totally unnecessary because you are aware of what is happening, how productive or unproductive your team is in real-time, who is doing well and who is struggling.

At any point in the day, you can look at the dashboard to get live stats on your team, be assured that teams are on track, and feel connected to your team in real-time.

In conclusion

When you have access to virtual employee productivity statistics that make sense; that provide holistic and detailed views through easy-to-understand graphs, your ability to make accurate decisions and have important conversations in the workplace is increased exponentially.

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