Published July 14, 2019 in Productivity

Remote Employee Time Tracking: How to Manage Your Remote Staff

In today’s digital world working from home is becoming more of a norm rather than a casualty. In fact, a study conducted in 23 countries around the world found that 56 percent of interviewed businesses allow remote working - which proves the rise in popularity of remote working. Additionally, companies that allow remote working face 25 percent less turnover than companies who do not - a favorable situation for both employers and employees. Remote employee time tracking allows businesses to lower their operating costs, while employees enjoy working from the comfort of their homes.

That same study also reveals that 52 percent of employees choose remote working at least once a week. This information shows how important it is for you as a business owner or manager to keep up with these changing trends. Although this is not the preference of every employee, as some feel more motivated working in an office space, remote working is still something you need to take into consideration.

Major contributors that allow remote working to be productive are employee management systems. We have already talked about the importance of the employee management systems, so check it out if you are interested in learning more about the benefits they provide to businesses.

Implementing a Remote System: Where Should You Start?

Preparation Phase

Whenever a new member joins the team, you should provide some guidance to them in terms of expectations, surroundings, and introduction to other team members. This can be done by creating an orientation program that is accessible by all new employees, especially remote ones.

It is highly important to make remote employees feel as if they are part of the internal team. This tends to be one of the more difficult tasks which business owners tend to face when hiring remote workers - as they are oftentimes left out from certain meetings, events or gatherings. Nonetheless, daily communication and time management should help both ends feel comfortable. As the manager, your duty is to clarify the remote workers' position within the company, and what you expect him to accomplish in the near future. Every person has his or her own perception of success; Therefore, it is crucial for you to prepare the new employee on your expectations. This can be done by providing virtual guidance, as well as samples of the work you would like to see from them. Additionally, they should be equipped with all the tools they need to complete the task.

As the last part of this preparation phase, an introductory meeting should be held between the office-based employees and the remote ones. This will allow remote employees to communicate their needs, and request assistance directly, without having to have a mediator to connect them. This will make the remote employee feel as important as the office-based employee because of the accessibility being offered to them.

The same advice is valid even for employees who work remotely during specific days of the week.

Communication Phase

Establishing communication with employees that work remotely is a task that can be difficult at times. Not having employees for direct communication means they can miss out on important information or misunderstand their tasks. As such, you need to find a way to reach out to them quickly when needed. For this reason, a convenient digital communications platform needs to be put in place which will allow for real-time conversations to occur.

This communication tool should be universal for all staff to make sure they can also reach to each other whenever needed. We suggest using text-based apps like Slack, and WorkChat, or video-based apps like Google Hangouts, and Zoom. Using these platforms to establish regular communication with remote workers is a crucial step towards building a healthy relationship.

One great factor that contributes to establishing a communications platform is tracking employee time. Because your employees are working remotely, you will not be able to monitor them as you would if they worked in the office. There are cases in which employees take advantage of this situation by not working as much as they agreed to. For this reason, you need to monitor not only the time spent working but also the effectiveness of that time via a remote employee time tracking tool.

You can do this through apps that monitor time and attendance. Modern time tracking apps are easy to use and implement. Besides time tracking, these apps offer a variety of features like location tracking, team activity insight, offline time tracking, timesheet reports and more.

Apart from making sure your employees are working enough, these apps can also let you know which employees are working overtime; thereby, helping you create a reward system dedicated to improving work relations and productivity.

Monitoring Phase

During this phase, it is important to avoid micromanagement. Ensuring that every employee follows the exact work procedures is difficult, not only for remote workers but also for the workers in your office. Under these circumstances, business owners do not have to drive too much attention to the work methods, rather they should focus on the end result. Is the remote worker completing the tasks in a timely manner? What is the quality of his or her output? How much time does it take for a remote worker to complete certain tasks relative to an office-based worker? These are the questions that project owners should be asking themselves.

In other cases, remote workers are an integral unit of your staff. For example, in the plumbing industry, most of the work is conducted across work sites. Communicating, and monitoring becomes extremely difficult in the absence of proper management systems. However, today's digitalized market offers solutions for all of the aforementioned problems. A simple google search for “remote employee time tracking solutions” can help you identify ways you can manage your remote staff.

Having that said, an important component of successful remote employee time tracking is feedback. You should be willing to notify employees on how well they’ve completed their work or where they need improvement. If you don’t reach out to them first, they may even hesitate to ask questions on how certain tasks should be done - which can potentially lead to errors due to misunderstandings.

Apart from your giving feedback, you should also encourage feedback from your employees. Having their input on how they feel regarding your management style, the time tracking apps you’re using, or the complexity of the software they work will make you a better manager, and increase the satisfaction of your employees.

Final Remarks

In certain industries, remote workers are a must, while in others they are becoming more and more popular. Business owners need to think ahead of time and start implementing a system that is tailored for remote workers. The more you read about remote working, the more myths you will start to see. The editors at Career Karma have created a great piece of writing that brings together all myths and gives a clear guide on how to navigate them. As such, be cautious and proactive when implementing a remote strategy.

Various employee management systems, apps that monitor time and attendance, and payroll management tools provide the necessary resources to make the implementation of such a process as smooth as possible. Start the remote journey now, and stay ahead of competition forever!