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Remote Workers–Trust but Verify

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The Trend Towards Remote Workers

Our world is currently experiencing a talent shortage and remote workers, also known as contingent, extended, freelance and part-time workers, are becoming the difference between a company’s success and loss of productivity.

This trend towards contingent workers is recent and is becoming more and more popular.

Young contemporary businessman remote working sitting outdoor in a city park using computer – portability, small business, networking concept

The advantages of remote work are numerous and include:

  • Improves the balance between work and lifestyle for employees and increases profits for the company.
  • Businesses can utilize excellent professionals outside their standard areas.
  • The various types of remote work are benefits which companies can utilize to hire the ‘’best in the business’’ without the problems of relocation, transferring families and/or increasing the probability of lengthy commutes, which often lowers morale.
  • 37% of surveyed tech professionals agree that it would be worth a 10% pay cut to work remotely.
  • 46% of the surveyed companies agree that remote work is a factor in reduced attrition.
(Image: Flickr/Matt Howry)

Who Wants to Be Remote?

Millennials, who are quickly outnumbering the rest of us, are strong advocates of combining work and home in one package. They are fiercely encouraging company owners to allow employees to work at home, if not 100%, at least 50% of the work week if they choose to do so.

Large groups of professionals are also moving out of the ‘’corporate office environment’’ and into the  “pajama environment’’ of contingent workers. This group adamantly declares that work production is greater at home than in the office where continual meetings and chat sessions are customary, which is very probable.

Tools That Will Help Managers Endorses Remote Workers

In spite of all the accolades of having remote workers, there are many managers who sometimes doubt that their remote workers are actually working when they say they are. These managers need to see proof and we are providing examples of a few of the many technology tools specially designed for remote workers.

Productivity and Time Trackers, plus More Tools

  • Smart productivity tools include Time Doctor, a time management software that accounts for real time and checks mis-used time. It records contingent workers internet usage and delivers a basic report of visited websites visited and apps utilized. In addition, screenshots are made in 3-minute increments to produce evidence of employee work.
  • A tool that provides real time automatic time tracking capabilities is DeskTime. It allows managers to categorize work as productive, unproductive and neutral. It also provides agencies the abilities to track billable hours among their employees
  • A software that tracks workers’ computer actions and provides reports on their time spent on productive and non-productive applications is WorkIQ.
(Image: Flickr/Matt Howry)

This software has clear visuals that help you see which workers are actively engaged in work and which workers appear to be distracted, or dis-engaged in their work. It’s possible to categorize contingent workers activities, track processes across all applications and then, compare how workers process similar units of work.

  • A monitoring software that enables remote workers to monitor their work time is Asana. It is helpful in understanding how much time is spent on each daily task. It also monitors emails which sorts conversations by task, and then, the tasks are organized by project. Managers can assign tasks and track them and then evaluate the projects in real time.
  • Since remote workers are not in office environments in which they seldom hear their manager’s continual reminders, it’s easy for them to forget the ‘’little things’’. Todoist is a new software that keeps everyone up to date on everything that needs to be done.
  • Trello is a well-known device that helps visualize workflow and keeps work tasks organized. It is cloud based, so it’s easy to keep adding workers and organizing new tasks. This tool works well to simplify inboxes and keep tasks and projects orderly.

One interesting component of Trello is their ‘’card system’’ that helps the manager, remote workers and the entire team see the task lists that can be updated anytime. When tasks are completed, the ‘’cards’’ can be placed between the list of tasks, so that it’s easy to see the updated current status.

  • An interesting tool that runs in your web browser is Freckle. It tracks remote workers’ time, and also tracks an unlimited number of projects, creates invoices and also tracks expenses.
  • Another time tracking tool is Worksnap. It offers extra details for those managers who want a better understanding of their remote worker’s productivity. Worksnap takes a screenshot every 10 minutes and also records keyboard strokes and mouse movements. It lists all the applications remote workers utilize, so it’s clear who spends a lot of time on Excel and who spends time on reviewing or working on a Word document.
  • Basecamp is a project management tool with streamlined communications and projects. It has a native to-do list function, allows chats with team members and makes it easy for both managers and team members/remote workers to see who is working on what. Everyone can easily see what needs to be done for each project. Even better, files can be stored in Basecamp so its easy for all to access documents, which is often challenging for remote workers. Because Basecamp has to many tools, money can be saved by using it instead of buying other related tools.
  • Advance Systems provides all-in-one Workforce Management Software which includes mobile workforce management and is an enterprise level solution. Added values include time and attendance, HR management, absence management, employee self-service, and workforce scheduling tools.
(Image: Advanced Systems)

The Benefits of Using These Technology Tools

There are many benefits of using technology tools for remote workers. These tools can also be used for other manager and employee needs. Managers often share that these tools helped them:

  • Know exactly when remote workers are working and how long they work.
  • Easily identify unproductive work behaviors as they happen so that instant coaching can take place,
  • Managers can usually recognize and incent performance and productivity instantly.
  • Genuine employee performance can be evaluated,
  • Project management is much easier, accurate, and managers can follow the progress of all projects.
  • Workflow is visualized and organized and can be seen by managers and remote/in the office workers.