Working from home is a very attractive option for employees. They can be close to their family and still earn a comfortable salary. As a result, companies have actively started offering telecommute options to workers. Over the last few years, flexible work options have become so popular that more than 20 percent of employees are now offered home-based jobs after they fulfill several criteria. This is good news but it is not without its problems. Yes, work-from-home jobs are useful for employers and employees but how do employers track their employees?
The recent media hype about telecommuting has been overwhelmingly negative says PCWorld. In fact, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer even implemented a ban on telecommuting jobs in the prestigious company due to productivity issues. This ban raised many questions as work-at-home mothers were the main category of workers that were affected by the decision.
However, at the end of the day, it is productivity that matters and both employer and employee should benefit from working at home. If there are problems, how can employers prevent these problems without looking over the employee’s shoulder every minute?
Telecommuting: Good or Bad?
Flexible work arrangements are good but employers have realized that they do need to track work times. Most employees are happy with the flexible work time and they do a lot of work but others cannot handle the freedom and deadlines start to slide. As a result, companies have to establish simple telecommute policies that will ensure that workers will follow to ensure that they are online and working. Companies have to invest in the latest systems such as the Blue Jeans network conferencing systems for example, which will allow workers to login anytime and be accessible to senior management and junior staff. Business states that the same video conferencing software can also be used to track employees by installing the following features.
Telecommute Policies – Setting up a telecommute policy is necessary before employees are offered the work-from-home option. The policy will usually cover minimum work times, when to log on to video conferencing software, work wear, productivity requirements and so on. HR staff encourages workers to follow this policy as it improves employee tracking and ensures that work-related problems are solved quickly.
Flexible Work Hours Tracked Through a Webcam – One of the simplest features built into a video conferencing system is timing. Companies can ask employees to keep webcams on as they work online. Employers then can access the webcam anytime during work hours to track productivity. At the same time, the webcam also acts as a way to correspond with the employee for clarifications, questions and doubts. Yahoo’s CEO reportedly made the new policy after checking the VPN logs of telecommuting employees. The VPN logs clocked exactly when employees logged in and out of the company’s server and video conferencing system. As the login times and workhouse were insufficient, the company then shut down the telecommute option. Although most companies have lauded the move, it has also pointed out a simple fact. Yahoo CEO doubted worker productivity and checked VPN logs based on doubt. Industry analysts stated that if all workers are doubted like this, then telecommuting just made no sense.
Daily Video Chats – Almost all companies now enforce a daily video chats section through the company video conferencing system. The chats are just for 15 minutes but they help to track the employee and find out what work was done for the day. Some companies also have a chat session at the beginning of the day so that goals are set and at the end of the day to verify what work was done. If more than one employee in a group is telecommuting, a group chat is also recommended to ensure that everyone is on the same page. To back up the video chat option, some companies also setup daily emails, Google sheets for hourly tracking, weekly meetings, etc. For larger groups, group meetings with video conferencing, survey, polls, chat rooms, etc are set up so that workers can connect with each other and solve problems internally before going to management for help.
Social Networking – Almost all video conferencing software now integrates with social networks and it is that much easier to track workers and what they are doing through this option. Most companies now track employee social posts and use them to verify what the employee is doing at any given time. Social networking can be used to network with industry professionals but not on company time.
Businesses are embracing remote working options to make it easier on productive workers says Keppiecareers. They usually have a very clear vision on how the employee is expected to work from home and the amount of work required. In case the worker cannot meet the telecommute policy requirements, the option is withdrawn. However, it is also the responsibility of the company to establish telecommute policies and invest in state-of-the-art videoconferencing software that will make employees accountable and productive.