It’s only natural to have some trepidation when deciding to let employees work from home. Won’t they play video games, watch Netflix, not get dressed, and still get their paychecks? Thanks to a host of remote monitoring tools, mistakes when tracking remote employees have become less of a stress point for company leaders. But how should we monitor remote employees? What should we keep tabs on? What’s off-limits? And how do you navigate the various grey areas?

Read on to find answers to these most pressing questions — and more.

Mistake #1 – Not Being Transparent With Employees

According to Stacy Hawkins, a professor of law at Rutgers Law School, “Anyone working in IT can tell you that if you are working in the employer’s place of business using their equipment, you are absolutely getting monitored.”  It’s vital that mistakes when tracking employees are avoided. 

This reality extends to remote work, as the place of business becomes anywhere with an internet connection. Despite monitoring becoming a staple of modern work, it is vital to remain transparent about its use.

It is essential to let our employees know that we are using tracking software. Not just that you are using it, but how you are using it. This way, you provide employees with a better sense of security, show how you will respect their privacy, and make them involved in the process.

Remote tracking software

Remote tracking software provides lots of insights, including the websites employees visit, the tools they use and how they use their time throughout the day. 

While this is all done in the name of greater productivity and support for employees, it’s important to be transparent about the process. In the minds of some employees, a lack of transparency can fuel an air of distrust.

To support transparency, make sure you communicate the use of monitoring software to your employees, including what will and won’t be captured. Gaining employee consent to monitoring should also be part of your onboarding process. 

Transparency must also be a part of ongoing daily use of monitoring software. Make your monitoring policies easily accessible as part of your employee handbook. And make communication two-way by setting up a feedback method through which employees can ask questions about your company’s monitoring policies.

Finally, perhaps the greatest transparency you can provide employees is giving them access to their monitored data. The best monitoring software will allow employees to see their data, helping instil trust and fuel their growth.

Mistake #2 Not Securing Employee Data

According to a study, 58% of top managers have made mistakes when tracking employees by accidentally forwarding critical data to the wrong individual. This shows just how susceptible employee data is in the modern workplace. And can lead to a loss of confidence from workers — or the loss of the workers themselves.

A 2020 Forbes article showed 52% of employees prefer workplace safety over promotion. Thirty-three per cent of workers prefer security to career advancement or salary increment. This goes to show that data security is a high priority to modern employees.

It’s not just in the management of data were risks of exposure lie — but in the collection of it too.

When tracking remote computer work, there is a real risk of capturing private information like passwords, banking details or other personal information.

But how do companies monitor work from home and avoid capturing this sensitive data? Well, there’s no escaping; it’s a balancing act. But the answer lies with technology.

Firstly, it’s important to state that your goal shouldn’t be to monitor every employee activity. This isn’t a source of greater productivity. And it’s likely going to mould us into micromanagers. And micromanagement has many shortcomings, including:

  • Killing team spirit
  • Hampering employee engagement
  • Constricting employee creativity

Rather than trying to capture every action every second, the goal is to monitor performance and productivity in aggregate. That is, to automatically capture work-related activity, parse out the non-work activity and then create a total picture of productivity based on the remaining insights.

Leading remote tracking software makes capturing these behavioural insights simple. It offers you a high level of flexibility when managing employee data. For instance, it’s possible to set screenshot-taking frequency, blur screenshots, and customize settings to capture personal activity.

Mistake #3 – Measuring the Wrong Metrics

There is almost no limit to the data that can be captured throughout the workday. 

So, what metrics should you measure while tracking work from home employees?

Most obviously, attendance and time spent clocked in is the starting point. This verifies employees are working the number of hours they are required to work.

But, meeting working duration may not be the biggest concern when looking at why remote work monitoring is crucial. 

Yes, time clocked in is important. However, what employees do during this time is even more significant to your team’s success.

It would help if you prioritised getting your team to get the most out of their time and work most efficiently. To do this, it’s important to focus on the bigger picture rather than fall into the trap of watching and analyzing every minute of employee time.

Understanding our remote workforce definition can help in getting the correct data. The starting point must be setting clear project goals for employees to accomplish against which they can be measured using monitoring data.

Knowing what to track is easy when you understand why you are doing so in the first place. So, what are the most important metrics for remote employee tracking?

Below are the primary goals when monitoring remote work tools:

  • Determining team and individual productivity
  • Ensuring appropriate company resource usage
  • Having proof work is being completed
  • Benchmarking employee performance
  • Identifying areas that extra training and support may be needed

Mistake #4 – Breaking the Law

One of the mistakes when tracking employees is a failure to understand employee tracking regulations, which is a time bomb. This is because monitoring and employment laws differ from country to country.  

In the US, for instance, you can monitor our organization’s equipment but not employees’ personal emails. Moreover, rules vary depending on the state. You can track employees secretly in some states, while some require employee notification.

In Australia, the laws are more severe. Employers must notify team members at least two weeks before installing and using tracking software.

In Malaysia, employers can monitor employees but not before forwarding them a written notice of how they intend to track them.

And remote employee tracking has limits to what information you can gather. Russia, for instance, prohibits employers from monitoring phone calls. In Finland, one may not monitor employee computer usage, emails, or calls.

As you can see, the laws around monitoring differ drastically depending on your jurisdiction. It’s simply not possible to capture every nuance in this article. So, when implementing monitoring software, you must seek legal advice as part of the process.

It is vital to know the legal requirements of worker tracking within your locality. Doing so ensures you won’t run afoul of the law and cost yourself valuable time, resources and dedicated employees.

Wrapping Up

There’s no doubt that employee monitoring is here to stay as a staple of remote work. When done responsibly and transparently, monitoring helps teams become more productive and support employee performance and wellbeing.

So, when monitoring your team, avoid making mistakes when tracking remote employees and use the advice above to navigate the four most common pitfalls. When you do, you’ll be on your way to a more productive and engaged team.

  • About the Author
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Bojana is a Content Writer at Workpuls, with a background in marketing and journalism. She enjoys writing about productivity, remote work, and marketing.