Businesses have seen a rapid and unprecedented uptake in remote working over the last year, for reasons that won’t have passed you by if you’re anywhere in the UK. But, for employers not used to home workers, virtual meetings and video calls, the move to monitoring and maintaining employee performance without having them physically approachable in the usual work environment can be a difficult one.
Its good business sense to ensure that workers are doing as you pay them to do, but this can be tricky to maintain without disempowering employees and making them feel distrusted. But there are ways to sustain – and even improve – high performance standards.
Keep contact consistent and regular.
One of the most powerful tools an employer can use to keep their employee motivated, interested and working is basic contact. Checking in regularly with all employees should be a matter of course, particularly when you’re not all in the physical vicinity of each other; but it also helps remind them of priorities, to motivate them to contribute and to understand how their performance plays in to the wider business success. If you’re not already, set up regular team meetings, check-ins and confidential 1:1s, either on a videoconferencing or instant messaging platform.
Realistically, employee will never be supervised in their own homes the same way they are in the office – and many will be juggling other responsibilities as they work that they wouldn’t usually. This can result in varying performance from even the strongest of team members; but it’s likely to be temporary. Keep an eye on the output team members are making and ensure they’re accountable for meeting targets and carrying out actions. Employees’ working processes may not be the same at present, but their output can still be held to be account where appropriate.
With competing responsibilities at home, many home workers may benefit from increased flexibility. This could include, but is by no means limited to, more flexible working hours (early mornings, evenings and weekends), varying roles and workarounds due to equipment limitations. The more adaptable an employer is to changing and uncertain circumstances, the more likely an employee is to continue their work with the same level of focus and dedication where they’re able to.
As a last resort, implement internet monitoring.
It’s considered the norm for companies to monitor their employees’ computer usage when they’re in an office using business devices, but many don’t assume their employers have the same powers when they’re working remotely. In fact, most device monitoring works in the same way as it would in the normal working environment. If there isn’t already monitoring software in place, it can be implemented – but employers must set out clear identification of the reasons for such supervision and ensure employees know the rules around usage. In most circumstances, only internet usage and work e-mails can be audited, but different roles and security clearance levels may have differing guidelines.
Performance and performance monitoring simply can’t work in the same way it usually does at present – because just about nothing is normal right now! If you have a specific performance or monitoring issue with a member of employee, don’t blanket them with standard advice and proceedings. Instead, seek specialist HR advice and work with them to adapt, and overcome.
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