The business landscape has undergone significant changes in 2023, with more employers adopting flexible policies that facilitate remote work. However, certain managers overseeing remote teams are exploring options to monitor workplace activities.
Microsoft is a leading company in workplace monitoring, and they have recently launched Microsoft 365 features to assess the productivity and wellbeing of their remote workforce. Nonetheless, the rollout of their Productivity Score feature allows managers to monitor the work progress of individual remote employees.
Monitoring Employee Productivity with Microsoft
With so many other tracking tools available, it’s natural to question the significance of the Microsoft Productivity Score.
According to researcher Wolfie Christl, the Microsoft Productivity Score is exceptional and more invasive than other similar tools.
Employers or managers may analyze individual employee activities by monitoring them.
The researcher who made the observation was Wolfie Christl.
According to Forbes, Microsoft’s technology is a “privacy nightmare” due to its capacity to undermine the traditional hierarchy between managers and subordinates. With the Productivity Score service, managers can gain a comprehensive understanding of their network and monitor how their employees interact with features and identify those who are unproductive or not using resources efficiently.
Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft 365, announced last week that the company would be removing individual usernames from the service, despite previously stating in October that the technology was not designed for workplace monitoring. Spataro addressed this issue further in his recent speech.
Individual usage data of Microsoft 365 apps and services will not be accessible to anyone in the organization via the Productivity Score. The feature will only provide aggregate data at the organizational level for communication, meetings, content collaboration, teamwork, and mobility.
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Is Office Surveillance Necessary?
Working remotely can pose challenges for all employees. Some may struggle to master the necessary tools, while others may have difficulty establishing a routine or avoiding overworking.
Managers must acquire the skills necessary to foster confidence and productivity in a remote environment. While some managers have successfully achieved this, others find it challenging to determine the most effective approach. These are the same managers who, prior to the pandemic, may have been worried that their employees were not working at full capacity.
Micromanagers, in particular, faced challenges when required to manage their teams remotely, having been accustomed to supervising them in an office setting. As a result, many of them saw remote employee monitoring as the only solution to increasing productivity.
The recent incidents at Microsoft sparked an intriguing debate on the extent and constraints of work-from-home surveillance.
Many managers believe that tracking techniques are the most effective way to boost productivity. However, the use of such tools can erode trust between managers and employees. Workers tend to feel that their abilities and competence are being scrutinized and that their bosses lack faith in them.
To achieve higher productivity, better outcomes, and a positive work environment, it is crucial to cultivate trust among employees. Creating a culture of trust is the key to keeping your team motivated and invested in their work. The solution is not to install monitoring equipment.
Evidence Suggests that Building Trust Among Workers Increases Output.
The current challenge is to establish trust in a remote working environment. Fortunately, it is not an insurmountable task. The key is to invest the time and effort to utilize effective methods to support your team.
Monitoring employees is one option, but it can create fear and anxiety, which is counterproductive and does not contribute to the company’s success.
Consider the following suggestions for establishing credibility online:
1. Hold Regular Stand-up Meetings
At Works, we adopt Agile methods to promote productivity and collaboration. We conduct daily 15-minute standup meetings (generally held on Zoom) where each team member reports on their work from the previous day and plans for the next day. This allows us to monitor progress and provide assistance where needed.
If you find meetings unproductive, consider utilizing messaging applications such as Slack or others of your preference for communication.
2. One-on-One Meetings
Regular feedback sessions can benefit both managers and employees. It’s crucial to meet with each team member to gain insights into their experience with the company and their current role, taking their perspectives into account.
You could ask for feedback on your leadership and use it to make improvements where necessary.
3. Empathize with One Another’s Experiences.
Some of your employees may be parents who need to alternate working from home to be available for their children. These actions, such as their child ingesting a butterfly or their dog biting the furniture, may result in them being unable to work for the entire day between 9am and 5pm. You may be unaware of incidents that occur outside of work hours.
By showing empathy, you show that you trust your team to produce the desired outcomes. Shift your focus to the outcomes, rather than the duration of time spent working remotely.
4. Have Fun
Developing relationships with your team is crucial for building trust. One-on-one and group meetings are effective for getting to know your colleagues, and virtual activities can expedite this process.
Your team could gather for a coffee break once a week, or you could organize online competitions to play games that you all enjoy.
5. Hire Competent Professionals
Building trust quickly can be accomplished through skillful hiring. Bringing someone onboard without confidence in their abilities may not lead to a successful outcome. This could result in the need for workplace monitoring tools and constant questioning of their progress, which wastes valuable time for both parties.
The goal of expanding your team is to delegate tasks, freeing up your time for important strategic goals. Trying to manage everything on your own will be unsustainable and cause your team members to feel undervalued and untrusting.
Developing trust in a remote work setting can be challenging, but it becomes much easier with the recruitment of the right employee. If you have faith in their abilities and the caliber of their work, constant monitoring should not be necessary.
We can assist you in your quest for the ideal team member. Our speciality is in helping businesses find top technology professionals and establish successful remote teams.