Millions of Americans are currently working from home during the COVID-19 crisis, an unprecedented and completely unexpected shift from the small margin of individuals that work remotely on a regular basis. Companies that had no experience with this type of remote working practice are being shoved into the deep end of the pool, often leaving supervisors feeling under equipped to ensure that tasks are completed in a timely manner. There are conflicting studies that remote work boosts productivity while other reports show that people are much less productive when left to their own devices without the structure of an office. While the reality likely depends on the individual and the circumstance, there are still creative options for ensuring that your staff members are staying productive during the ongoing social distancing requirements.

1. Help Staff See The Benefits Of Remote Productivity Tracking

Perhaps one of the worst things that you could do as an employer is to be sneaky about the fact that you’re checking up on your staff members. This can leave your best workers feeling nervous and paranoid; spending more time worrying about what is being seen than focused on the tasks at hand. Being open and honest with your staff may not be a revolutionary idea, but it’s one that will help reduce frustration and improve communication between all parties. There are benefits for employees, including:

  • Quick access to problems for IT Help Desk professionals
  • Confidence and pride in the amount and quality of work being submitted
  • Feeling of accomplishment as preset goals are met . . . and exceeded

According to Nick Allo of SemTech IT Solutions, “Remote monitoring is a benefit to employees because their employer can see their work ethic.”

2. Set KPI Goals And Rewards

In 2020, we are in the era of gamification of “everything” — and that includes work! Why not provide your staff with achievable goals, reviewing and resetting them on a regular basis to ensure they are still in alignment with organizational objectives? When your staff meets or exceeds these goals over a longer period of time, offer real incentives that will be considered valuable for your staff such as the ability to work remotely half-days or full days once the world has reopened for business. Phillip Baumann at BoomTech, Inc. notes: “We at BoomTech follow EOS and have a weekly scorecard with KPIs for each team member. That way they know they are succeeding and what we expect.”

3. Have a Vibrant, Captive Network

It’s a lot harder for staff members to become a ghost when they’re expected to be part of a rapid-fire collaboration network such as Microsoft Teams, Slack or Google Hangouts. Evan Eakin of Elevate Services Group recommends: “Leaders and executives should be just as collaborative, if not more so, during this time to set great examples for the team. As leaders are engaging with their teams on these digital “offices” they can ensure/track team productivity directly through their own interactions.”

4. Install Surveillance Software

While perhaps not the most creative solution, there are plenty of surveillance software packages that allow you to protect the privacy of remote staff while still ensuring they are at their most productive when working away from the office. Carl Fransen of CTECH Consulting Group notes that “installing surveillance software is a quick way employers are responding to the new modern workplace.” Time recording software is another solution for remote activity monitoring, and it comes highly recommended by Ian Brady of Steadfast Solutions in Australia as a way to improve processes and look for potential improvements.

One of the most trusted proverbs for technology leaders is to “Trust, but verify” — and that might be the term you need to consider when it comes to tracking the productivity of your remote workers. If your team members feel as though they are empowered to do their best work, they are more likely to deliver beyond your expectations. Joe Cannata of Techsperts, LLC summed it up well: “Working from home has its challenges for everyone involved but it also provides cover for those few employees who like to take advantage. There are solutions available to employers that are designed to maintain employee productivity both inside and outside the office environment.” Maintaining the privacy your staff members deserve while also ensuring that the work is completed can feel like a fine balancing act. The payoff when you figure out the ideal mix may be a greater propensity by senior leadership to approve additional remote work options for individuals in the future.