While common, remote workforces present a unique challenge. But how do you know if your remote staff is actually working and not wasting time?
Remote workforces are becoming increasingly common. Not only did many organizations quickly shift to remote work at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but many of those employers have decided to keep that structure moving forward.
As many businesses have found out, it is difficult to know if your remote employees are actually working. However, with the right tools, you can track when your employees are working and how long they're spending on each project. Read on for seven tools to help keep your staff on track.
Editor's note: Looking for the right employee monitoring software for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.
What remote monitoring tools can you use to track productivity?
To help you monitor your workforce productivity, we asked seven entrepreneurs from the Young Entrepreneur Council to share their favorite apps for tracking the time remote employees spend on their projects. Here are their suggestions:
1. Time Doctor
"I find TimeDoctor to be the best tool in the market for tracking time for remote employees. It even has the option for screen capture, required work hours and everything you could want in a time-tracking software." – Syed Balkhi, OptinMonster
"The project management Roadmap application was so resourceful in tracking time for our remote employees that we began tracking time for our in-house team, too! Productivity has spiked, as has our return on our employees' trackable time. It has been incredibly important to our business." – Joe Apfelbaum, Ajax Union
[Need help choosing employee monitoring software? See our picks for the best employee monitoring software.]
"Our remote team has used Basecamp for years to manage project-based work quite successfully. Recently, we have added hourly consulting to our suite of services. TickSpot [which has been rebranded as Tick] has been a huge help to not only track time but make sure projects stay on budget. It integrates directly with Basecamp and allows our team members to see in real time how close to finishing the project they are." – Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now
"I've worked with a lot of time-monitoring apps, but Timely so far has been the best for me and my team. You can track your time per project, and the interface is easy and simple. Best of all, if a worker forgets to 'stop the timer' on a certain project, you get a notification via email that the clock is still running. You can go in and edit as you like. It's just the best." – Rob Fulton, consultant
"HiveDesk is a great resource to track remote employees, with features such as random screen sampling, check-in/check-out and easy-to-use timesheets." – Josh Weiss, Reggie [See related article: 5 Tips for Building a Successful Remote Company]
"Since we work with clients all over the world, we allow our team to create their schedules. However, we recommend TSheets to our customers because it has so many ways for remote workers to clock in and out – so there can be no excuses!" – Marjorie Adams, Fourlane
7. Google Forms and Sheets
"We use Google Sheets to track our part-time and remote workers. It's not glamorous, but we have created simple forms that folks fill in daily, highlighting their hours and what work they've completed. By integrating all of that into one file, we're able to see progress as well as budget for upcoming weeks. The added benefit is that it's easy; there's no time wasted learning a new system." – Aaron Schwartz, Passport
What is remote employee monitoring?
Through different digital tools, employee monitoring gives employers a read on employees' activity and productivity. Using various types of software, employers can track how employees are using their time each day. Specifically, you can use this technology to monitor employees' computer use, including the websites they visit, the programs they open and the files they download.
Other tools, like GPS tracking, can monitor where employees physically are each day. All of these tools can be used to examine employee activity and identify productivity and privacy issues, which, in turn, can lead to better decision making about your business.
What are the benefits of remote monitoring software?
There are several benefits to investing in remote monitoring software for your company. In addition to monitoring employee productivity through tracking tools such as keystroke and website monitoring software, you can evaluate your team's work ethic and protect your business by keeping a close eye on the documents that are leaving your network. Here are some other benefits of using remote monitoring software:
Improves efficiency. Some remote employee monitoring software allows you to see how long employees spend working on a project or to track their progress throughout an assignment. You can use the data you collect to get a full sense of whether there are ways you can change how employees work to improve efficiency.
Boosts productivity. According to a 2018 study published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, workers are more productive when they know they're being monitored. Being watched makes employees more mindful of their actions at work, which promotes efficient workflow.
Supports personnel decisions. What you uncover with employee monitoring software can help support decisions you make on whether to terminate an employee or promote one. Being able to see how employees are spending their time each day can give you better insight into whether an employee should be working at your company, or if they should be given more responsibilities.
Protects privacy. Employee monitoring software can help safeguard sensitive data. If critical company data is stolen, you can use employee monitoring software to discover who took the data and when, as well as whom they sent it to.
Verifies employees' locations. If you have employees who are working from the road, it is important to know they are where they should be. Using GPS tracking tools, you can see where your employees are at all times. GPS technology can be built into time and attendance systems to show where employees are clocking in and out from, or it can be part of GPS fleet tracking software that is installed in your company vehicles to monitor their whereabouts. This helps you ensure that the work is getting done and that you aren't paying employees for work they aren't doing.
Ready to choose employee monitoring software? Here are our top picks.
Additional reporting by Simone Johnson.