Remote Team Monitoring: Effective or Risky?

As more organizations adopt remote and hybrid work models, it is becoming difficult for managers to keep track of their remote teams. The New York Times reports that eight of the top 10 private U.S. firms monitor the productivity of their employees, often in real-time. According to an ExpressVPN poll, three out of four managers use some type of monitoring technology to track productivity. There is no denying the rise in employer interest. Employee monitoring systems, however, may have unforeseen repercussions. 

What is Remote Team Monitoring? 

Most monitoring software follows employees’ activities and gives managers information on what their employees are up to during work hours to increase productivity. Some monitoring software keeps track of employees’ apps and websites and how much time they spend there. More intrusive options allow administrators access to calls, emails, and chat messages, as well as real-time screen and webcam recordings to monitor the user’s physical presence. Most solutions fall somewhere in between.

Why are Organizations Investing in Team Monitoring Software? 

These programs have a fundamental value, especially for businesses with a remote or hybrid workforce. Companies can hire and fire workers more effectively while still giving workers the freedom to work from home if they know about what they are accomplishing while doing so.

There could be a few immediate advantages, including a temporary increase in productivity. If employees know they are regularly being watched, some will put in more time or take fewer breaks to avoid discipline. In the ExpressVPN survey, 32% of participants said they took fewer breaks. Low performers can be eliminated with the aid of monitoring. After installing a tracker, a manager claimed to have gained “near X-ray vision into what employees were doing other than working,” discovering that they were playing video games, creating bots that could type for them, working two jobs, programming for other companies, and outsourcing their work to lower-paid employees.  

 

Risky Move?

Lack of Accuracy and Relevance

Surprisingly, the main criticism directed towards monitoring tools focuses on how well they capture actual productivity. Systems that rely mainly on internet activities can overlook offline work hours that are equally valuable, such as time spent analyzing, making notes, or talking with colleagues or clients. While consulting patients, UnitedHealth social workers reported being flagged as idle for inactivity at the keyboard. To avoid being written up, some managers had to remind employees to jiggle their mice throughout meetings and training sessions. 

Additionally, trackers frequently overlook other aspects of their jobs in favor of their narrow definition of productivity. Some grocery stores estimate productivity, for instance, by how quickly a cashier scans the items. Because it is more challenging to be patient with elderly consumers or those who move slowly, this lowers the quality of customer service. Instead of spending quiet time strategizing and streamlining their workflow, office workers could choose to conduct meaningless work that leaves a digital trace. 

Mutual Distrust 

Using productivity monitors most notably creates mistrust between management and its employees. According to the ExpressVPN study, 59% of managers don’t trust workers to work independently online, and 74% of managers claim that working remotely makes them feel out of control. They regain a sense of power thanks to these tools. 

But it’s challenging to remain enthusiastic about work when people think their superiors don’t believe in them. This lack of assurance can result in decreased productivity, decreased engagement, decreased contentment, and increased burnout. According to the same report, 56% of workers experience stress and worry due to their employer monitoring their conversations. 41 percent of people are perpetually paranoid about being observed. 

CloudDesk: Best Monitoring Software 

Companies must carefully examine whether and how to track productivity. It is fair to be concerned about productivity when workers are not going into the workplace. Establish two-way trust with remote employee monitoring software. CloudDesk analyzes your remote team’s PC/Laptop activities, empowers them with analytics to be more productive, and helps you to optimize processes for higher growth. Try CloudDesk’s free trial for 14 days or contact us today for more information.