One of the limiting factors on employers allowing their employees to work remotely – as opposed to always coming into the office to complete their tasks – has traditionally been the vexed issue of productivity. To put it simply, some bosses think that once their teams are out of direct sight, they will not work as hard or as efficiently. Essentially, this is what having a centralised system of working is for – to maintain high levels of productivity. Businesses which operate primarily from their headquarters usually do so in order to keep tabs on workers’ productivity rates.
And yet, many businesses do not operate within this sort of centralised model. What’s more, they often work more productively than those that do. Of course, some employees need to be out and about because it is in the nature of their work to visit clients or to head to different sites. There again, with more and more employees demanding flexible working arrangements, working from home – at least for part of the time – is increasingly becoming the norm in Ireland and the rest of the EU.
So, what can employers do if they remain worried that productivity will drop if they allow their employees to work remotely? Firstly, it is important not to leave it all to chance. Although there is no golden rule that states productivity will rise if more flexible ways of working outside the office are allowed, there is nothing to say it won’t drop, either. What employers need is a means of measuring their staff members’ productivity. In nearly all cases, this can be achieved most simply by adopting the right sort of technology.
Because you cannot see your employees when they are not physically present in the same place as managers, it is easy to assume that they are not doing what they should be doing and, in many cases, not where they say they are. Of course, if your employees have to log in whenever they arrive at a client’s address or when they have completed a job in the field, you need the manpower to confirm they are making sufficient progress with their calls. Equally, employees who should be working from home and not spending part of their working day heading off elsewhere for leisure pursuits need to be monitored.
This is where GPS tracking data can be so effective. As soon as employees know that the device they need to log in on has GPS tracking, it will mean they are much more likely to be in the place they should be. Without it, you have to take an employee’s word for it when they say they spent an hour in one location and a further two hours elsewhere, for instance. However, with a GPS tracking system rolled out for all of the mobile members of your team, you will be able to make sure they’re in the right places to be working productively.
Equally, holding GPS tracking data means you will be able to confirm that sales teams get to their first appointments on time or that inspection engineers do not leave the final appointment early, for example. Remember, too, that GPS tracking does not mean you have to constantly monitor everything to ensure productivity is kept high. You can simply use it when you detect a drop in performance from an individual employee to confirm their whereabouts over the last month or so.
Time Management Software
Most remote working is done either in the field or from home these days. One of the perceived drawbacks with this mode of operation is that team leaders and middle managers won’t be able to assign tasks in real-time so efficiently. Sending an email to a member of staff to tell them to prioritise workload A this morning and workload B this afternoon is no good if it doesn’t get picked up until the next day, for example.
However, when laptops and tablets have team time management software installed, managers can alert their teams to changes in workloads and schedules in real-time. Maybe assignments need to be reassigned because a big order has come in or because someone is unexpectedly sick? If so, altering the calendars of team members to keep them on track with the most important tasks should be child’s play and easy to confirm.
Making the Most of Smart Technology
Not every situation is convenient for remote workers to log in using their main work communication tool. They might need to get back home before they can write their report on their desktop computer or laptop, for example, and send it through to the company server. Maybe this because there is no Wi-Fi available nearby to use in the field. Equally, they might only have limited time when at a client’s premises to check in with the head office and pick up their next assignment. If so, a more convenient and quicker method of contact will be needed.
This is where smart devices, such as tablets and phones, can be so effective. With the correct app installed on these sorts of mobile device, employees will be able to log into the time management system you have in place and provide it with a few key details before logging off and moving on. Since smart devices don’t need Wi-Fi or ethernet connections, they can make use of the mobile communications network instead, thereby offering a great deal more convenience and speed.
Managing Productivity Remotely
Whether you want to keep data over a long period of time on location and performance metrics or you’d like to keep much closer tabs on employees in real-time, the software solutions are available to help you. Any business that wants to move to a more productive approach with remote working can take advantage of them today, so there is nothing to hold you back. What’s more, Advance Systems offers free demonstrations of its leading time management and GPS tracking systems so you can see exactly how beneficial they can be without the need to make a big commitment.