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In today’s episode of ‘From the eLearning Trenches,’ we asked one of our learners to discuss ways their firm manages and monitors the performance of remote workers

As we have so many remote workers and have had many of them for a long time, I can explain the ways that our firm has measured performance so far. 

  1. We use XPM and all staff record daily timesheets. Whether a team member is working in the office or remotely (including outsourced staff), the daily timesheet must be completed.  This provides accountability and serves as a record of what the team member has worked on for the day.  If there is not 8 hours recorded for the day, then questions are asked as to why.
  2. The recording of timesheets means that time is recorded against individual jobs and tasks. Most of these will be client jobs, but there is also the internal time which covers basic admin tasks, workflow meetings, filing, watching webinars or other training, etc.  We can extract reports from XPM to show the percentage of billable work (client-related) versus non-billable (the internal time).  Often the internal time is not specific or contain any description, so when this happens and is of a significant amount of time, then questions are asked about this too.  If a remote worker has large chunks of their day recorded as ‘administration’ or something generic, we would be suspicious about whether the worker is dedicating their full day to work.
  3. We monitor completed jobs and tasks, again using XPM. So we can measure a staff member’s performance in relation to completing work by comparing working in the office to working remotely.  We have found that some staff complete more jobs when they are at home, but others have been the opposite.
  4. It can be hard to get remote workers to engage with the team, particularly the overseas outsourced teams. They can be very quiet, don’t raise any issues in group settings, and don’t contribute ideas or participate in discussions.  A lot of this can be put down to cultural differences, as they are used to doing what they are told to do, and not questioning anything.  It creates a challenge to change this mindset and get them to engage.
  5. Client engagement is hard for remote workers. With our overseas outsourced teams especially, doing all communication via email or phone doesn’t always work due to time differences and difficulties in understanding accents etc. We try to monitor carefully any feedback from clients regarding how things are going from their perspective if they are allocated to one of our remote workers.  If they indicate that they are having trouble contacting their accountant or bookkeeper, would like to meet them face-to-face, or are having trouble understanding them, we take this very seriously and take action if required.

Feedback from our experts

The learner has raised common issue with managing remote workers effectively, especially with offshored teams. Generally, offshore teams will have their own management structure, so issues such as reliability and productivity should be addressed effectively.

There are several key challenges with remote working, but three of the most common ones are:

  1. Communication and collaboration: One of the biggest challenges of remote working is the lack of face-to-face interaction and communication, which can lead to a lack of collaboration and teamwork. This can result in misunderstandings, delays, and poor-quality work.
  2. Maintaining productivity and motivation: Without the structure and routine of an office environment, remote workers can struggle to stay focused and motivated, leading to decreased productivity and quality of work.
  3. Work-life balance: Remote workers may find it difficult to separate their work and personal lives, leading to burnout, stress, and other health problems.

To address these challenges, here are some strategies:

  1. Communication and collaboration: To improve communication and collaboration, remote teams can use a variety of tools such as video conferencing, instant messaging, and project management software. It is important to establish regular check-ins, set clear expectations and guidelines for communication, and encourage open and transparent communication.
  2. Maintaining productivity and motivation: Remote workers can maintain productivity and motivation by creating a routine, setting goals, and establishing a dedicated workspace. Regular breaks and exercise can also help to boost productivity and improve overall well-being.
  3. Work-life balance: Remote workers can improve work-life balance by setting clear boundaries between work and personal time, establishing a schedule, and taking time off to recharge. Employers can also encourage healthy work habits and provide resources for mental and physical wellness.

Remote working is increasingly regarded as a right of employment in progressive firms, with many employees working 1 to 2 days a week off site (usually Monday and Fridays).  It’s important that both managers and employees are aware of challenges associated with remote working and are able to engage in open, honest discussion about any issues that may arise.

The best place to start is to develop and communicate specific policies and performance criteria for remote working, to ensure that all parties understand expectations.

This assessment task and response is taken from the Team Leader Masterclass eLearning Course. Click here to explore this course

Also, you might want to take a look at the Proactive Manager eLearning Course

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