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How to Effectively Monitor Your Remote Workers

Isaac Kohen
Jun 25, 2018

Tracking employee engagement doesn't have to lead to a lack of trust.

If you have expanded your small business’s horizons and are now encompassing the realm of remote working, it’s likely you are familiar with employee monitoring strategies used to gauge team productivity. Understanding the dynamics of your remote workforce and how you influence that is part of your role as a business owner.

To formulate a thriving business, your remote workers must maintain a productive mindset that fosters success. This is achieved by engaging employees and culling alienation. Plant the seeds of productivity through effective leadership actions.

Leaders know that keeping your employees in a productive, consistent working state is an essential part to success, especially in the high stakes environment of small business operations. Disengaged and unmotivated employees aren’t likely to share your mission for success. But how can you track these productivity levels? Monitoring is one approach, and it can help encourage healthy productive habits. However for many, employee monitoring can be viewed as intrusive and an act of “spying” on the employee.

To eliminate feelings of distrust, we must look at employee productivity as a dual partnership between effective leadership skills and technology.  Here are a few tips from my own leadership experience on how to intertwine the two and increase productivity without not alienating your team.


Boost productivity with positive communication.

Leadership begins with you. As the company head, you are responsible for setting the tone of your company. I realize that as the leader I will directly affect my employee engagement, and in most cases, how productive they are.

For example, I use a tool called Jira to stay in touch with the tasks being worked on. Taking time to find technological tools that promote productivity and communication is a beneficial practice. Creating my own brand and sculpting an engaging employee experience improves production company-wide.

I can’t stress enough that team communication is a necessary component to an engaged remote work environment. Communication based on tasks, growth and vision should be regular – keeping your team in the loop with your goals as well as directing and celebrating (even the small) achievements. Consider enacting certain “celebrations” into your environments, something such as a having a virtual hang out to take part in a seasonal game. Any opportunity to create a positive, engaging conversation within your team aids in the centralization of your remote team.

Equally important is the need for open communication when explaining employee monitoring to employees. Hesitations around employee monitoring do exist, so it is necessary to explain the productivity boost when employee monitoring is in use. Sharing the purpose monitoring gives your employees necessary insight. Monitoring employees helps you identify areas you may be lagging. For example, you may notice an outdated application is making a task too lengthy. Identifying the ill performing app will allow you to make the necessary changes. By explaining any identifications like this to your employees when they occur, you solidify the importance of using monitoring software and further your communication, transparency and engagement efforts.

Honest communication on the matter of employee monitoring creates trust between you and your employee. Should your employee run into an issue, they will be more apt to connect with you rather than independently struggling. Instilling a trusting relationship between you and your employees is necessary to an engaging, happy workplace.

Communication and transparency further assist in ensuring that employees do not feel alienated. Keep in mind that employees, especially those who work remotely, can acquire a feeling of alienation if the work environment is lagging. Imagine yourself as an employee being monitored for unknown reasons and you never hear of feedback from the monitoring. It would be easy to become a detached employee, wouldn’t it? Now, imagine yourself as an employee being monitored so that your organization can assess the effectiveness of their tools and practices, and you also hear about positive trends the monitoring is showing within the company. It’s likely you would be a much more engaged employee in this scenario.

Set the example.

Leadership starts with me.

It’s important to maintain your availability as your remote employees are possibly logging hours different than your own. Setting the positive example of productivity gives employees something to follow.

With a team of around 50 employees, working worldwide, having a way to communicate securely and seamlessly matters. Telegram is an instant messaging application I use to foster communication within my team. We welcome each other, send updates and share our goals and wins. I also use this application to actively keep team members informed on how we are using the monitoring software to track employee productivity. Furthermore, to avoid alienating my team, I use the productivity monitoring software myself. I also actively share reports with my team monthly to foster openness and support the claim for using the software.

Be transparent about your monitoring.

Remember that maintaining a level of engagement within your teams – as well as giving them opportunities to remain engaged – will positively influence productivity.

In your remote workforce, always practice transparency. In relation to employee monitoring, employees aware of monitoring are driven to stay on task and pump out quality work. You are also likely to experience fewer incidents of unproductive work, given your employees are aware of the policy in place. Remember, increased productivity only comes if your employees understand why they are being monitored. Failing to disclose why you are monitoring your employees waves the scent of distrust and your employees are less likely to feel like a part of the team. Express that employee monitoring is necessary to track productivity, better align your tasks and their urgency levels and assess company strengths and weaknesses. Use it as an aid to support your accomplishments.

Transparency further establishes trust within your team and assists in reaching your company’s overall mission. Informing your employees of the use of employee monitoring services communicates trust. Understand that for your employees to fully understand why monitoring is taking place, you must clear the airwaves and express transparency from the start.

Overall, employee monitoring is a necessary part of having a remote workforce. The data that your monitoring software efforts construct are direct indicators of productivity. Monitoring done correctly can supply business leaders with valuable insight, which allows you to alter anything as you see fit to maximize your ROI.

If you don’t currently, start approaching employee monitoring with transparency and transformative leadership skills in mind. Position yourself as a leader in your team and create your brand as transparent and communicable. As an entrepreneur, I take it upon myself to formulate a strategy to engage, stimulate employee to employee relationships and remain a constant, transparent figure within my company. 

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Isaac Kohen