How to Know If Remote Employees Are Actually Working

In the last decade, industry professionals have seen remote work on the rise. And, sparked by the forced physical distancing of the coronavirus, more businesses are turning to remote workforces for business continuity. 

No matter what your situation is, if you have remote employees and no monitoring solution, you really don’t know if your remote staff is truly working when they should be. 

Read on to see how you can measure your remote employee work efforts:

Challenges of Remote Work

Remote work allows employees more flexibility in choosing which companies to work for and in adopting a work lifestyle. From a reduced commute time and commute costs to being able to work for companies halfway across the globe, remote work expands possibilities in the business sense and increases the availability of remote work opportunities for employees. 

Currently, 74% of companies were reported to have a plan to move to remote working permanently. Of CFOs and financial leaders, 74% also agreed that they plan to move 5% of their employees to the remote format even after the pandemic restrictions are lifted. 

More than that, 55% of businesses could go remote right now. Don’t be surprised to see if 80-90% of companies at least offer remote to their employees in 2030. 

There are many reasons, of course, why businesses don’t shift to remote work. There are challenges associated with remote work, both for employees and employers. For employees, they may be susceptible to loneliness and disconnectedness from not having to go into the office. They might also have increased financial obligations since they need to pay for a home office set up and have an organized space to work. 

While businesses save on average $11,000 annually with every part-time remote employee, certain remote challenges might offset these savings. 

For example, personal networks and personal computers regularly have weak security systems in place, and remote workforces have been known to be more susceptible to data breaches, insider threats, and malicious data attacks. 

Without a remote monitoring tool in place, businesses have no way of knowing if their employees are really working. Without this performance measure, remote employees could be slacking off and watching TV, playing games, or wasting time. Otherwise known as time theft, wasted time at work can be costing your business hard-earned cash. 

One study estimates that 20 cents of every dollar a US company earned is wasted on time theft. Another found that US employers lose around $400 billion annually in lost productivity. 

Remote organizations can’t see if their employees are working. Time theft is just one more risk that remote workforces have to deal with. 

Are Your Remote Employees Actually Working? 

When you run an organization, there are usually many parts to keep track of. In addition to HR, legal, accounting, acquiring sales, and cutting expenses, businesses rely on the CFO, CTO, and/or the CIO to deploy the right resources and protect a company against time threats. 

Depending on the number of resources that your business has available, you may be able to deploy comprehensive monitoring tools in addition to data visibility measures. 

If any part of your business runs remotely, you need to put barriers in place to protect against time theft. 

Here are some things to consider before implementing remote monitoring: 

  • Even with small businesses, remote monitoring can be a useful tool for productivity measurement, measuring KPIs, employee performance reviews, and project estimates. Don’t second guess why your business needs remote monitoring. The risks associated with data vulnerability and time theft are much greater than any consequences associated with remote monitoring. 
  • That said, business monitoring needs to comply with privacy laws. And depending on the amount of data your business collects, you may need to implement monitoring to protect that data. How to find a balance between privacy and protection is up to your system administrators and CIOs.
  • Remote monitoring comes in all shapes and sizes. You might find software that can be deployed from the main administrator console and secretly installed. Or, you may need to ask your employees to download the software. Available features range from webcam monitoring to keylogger software. 
  • You can’t secretly record your employees, so what you need to implement for data security purposes needs to be separate from productivity. If you’re implementing software for data security purposes, then you can go the route of secret surveillance (to an extent). In this case, you still wouldn’t be able to record your employees without their consent. However, if you want to monitor remote users through the webcam, you can do so for productivity purposes and can very well get their consent. 

Once your team has identified its monitoring goals, collaborate to identify the reasons for monitoring and the unique goals and measurements for each feature. 

Tools to See if Remote Employees Are Working

The best tool to see if your remote workforce is working is employee monitoring software. 

Employee monitoring software is software that records user behavior on the computer that it is downloaded on. The software can be downloaded from a single console or delegated to the user. 

In any case, the software grants surveillance privileges to the main console so that the monitoring agent (usually a manager) can see productivity levels, the employee activity, the amount of time the employee spends working, time spent on apps and websites, wasted time reports, and if any anomalous behavior is being conducted by that user. 

Here are some of the features that remote monitoring solutions come with:

  • Time tracking for individual, team, and non-project based tasks
  • Time spent on select websites and apps
  • Employee performance metrics
  • Easy-to-read dashboard
  • Tracking apps (with GPS monitoring)
  • Time wasted reports
  • Social media tracking
  • Individual timesheet reports
  • Attendance tracking
  • Remote worker tracking
  • Project and task estimates
  • Billable hours vs. work hours
  • Idle detection
  • Website restrictions

Your monitoring goals will determine the features that you should be looking for with a remote monitoring company. 

Implementing Employee Monitoring for Remote Workforces

Remote teams need to have several security protections in place in addition to monitoring solutions. 

While data monitoring tools can be included for increased productivity, businesses should take steps to reduce the endpoint vulnerabilities and to make sure the data being sent to remote employees is encrypted and stored securely. 

Implement the following software into your company’s main network to create a filtered endpoint:

  • Data discovery and classification software
  • Firewall
  • Backup and recovery systems
  • Antivirus and anti-malware software
  • Intrusion detection and prevention systems
  • Security information and event management (SIEM)
  • Data loss prevention software

Remote monitoring shouldn’t cause any problems, but be sure to communicate with your staff so that they understand why it is necessary. In many ways, monitoring could improve employee engagement between managers and employees and improve company culture!

Remote work only became possible due to the rise of portable, powerful technology. With high-performance laptops and enterprise-level security software available for download, remote work became a possibility for businesses with a high level of sensitive data. 

Be sure to protect your bottom line from time theft with remote monitoring software!

By SoftActivity Team

July 5th, 2021