Does Monitoring the Office Help a Dispersed Workforce Perform Better?

This year, 2023, has seen a wide variety of changes in the business world. Many employers are now offering greater flexibility in the workplace, including the option to work remotely. Despite this development, some remote-team managers are still looking for ways to implement workplace monitoring measures.

Microsoft is an exemplary company when it comes to monitoring the workplace. They have recently introduced Microsoft 365 functions to evaluate the wellbeing and productivity of their remote employees. However, the introduction of their Productivity Score function has enabled managers to track the activity of each remote worker.

Microsoft’s Productivity Monitoring Service

It is understandable to query why the Microsoft Productivity Score is of such significance, given the abundance of other tracking tools available.

Wolfie Christl, a researcher, highlighted on Twitter that this instrument is unique and even more intrusive than other instruments.

Employers/managers may monitor individual employee activities for analysis purposes.

It Was Wolfie Christl.

Forbes has described Microsoft’s technology as a “privacy nightmare”, citing its ability to remove the traditional hierarchical boundaries between supervisors and subordinates. The Productivity Score service offers an in-depth view of a manager’s network, allowing them to monitor how their workers interact with the functions and single out those who are not making a significant contribution or regularly utilising the resources.

Microsoft 365‘s Corporate Vice President, Jared Spataro, announced last week that the company would be removing individual usernames from the service, despite his statement in October that the technology was not intended for work monitoring. Spataro further elaborated on this topic during his speech.

No one within the organisation will be able to utilise the Productivity Score to view data relating to the individual usage of apps and services in Microsoft 365; instead, it will only provide aggregate data at the organisational level for communications, meetings, content collaboration, teamwork and mobility.

Toby Spataro

Is It Necessary to Have Surveillance in the Office?

Remote working can be a challenge for all employees. When it comes to utilising the relevant tools, many staff struggle to become proficient in their use. Additionally, some employees may find it difficult to create a suitable routine or to avoid working excessive hours.

Managers must equip themselves with the necessary skills to build confidence and increase productivity in a virtual environment. Some managers have been successful in doing this; however, others have found it difficult to decide on the most effective approach. Before the pandemic, these were the managers who were concerned that their employees were not working to their full potential.

Particularly, micromanagers who were accustomed to supervising their teams in the office were apprehensive when assigned the challenge of managing their teams remotely. As a result, many of them viewed remote monitoring of employees as the only solution, which was key to increasing productivity.

The recent events at Microsoft sparked a fascinating discussion on the bounds and limitations of work-from-home surveillance.

Due to the belief that tracking techniques are the most effective way to increase productivity, many managers are in favour of this. However, these trackers can have a detrimental effect on trust between employees and their managers. There is often a complaint from workers that their bosses lack faith in them and their abilities.

In order to achieve an increase in productivity, significant results and a positive working environment, it is essential to foster trust between employees. Building a culture of trust is the key to keeping your team motivated and engaged in their work. Installing monitoring equipment is not the answer.

Works‘s President Sharon Koifman explains the concept of remote work in his best-selling first book, Surviving Remote Work

Establishing Mutual Trust Among Workers Has Been Shown to Increase Output.

The current challenge is to build trust in a remote working environment. However, it is not as daunting as it may appear. Investing in your team by dedicating time and utilizing effective methods is key to achieving this.

While monitoring employees is one option, creating an atmosphere of fear and anxiety is counterproductive and will not help the company succeed.

The following are some suggestions for establishing credibility via the internet:

1. Regular stand-up meetings

At Works, we embrace the use of Agile methods. To ensure productivity and collaboration, we have daily standups which are 15-minute meetings (usually held via Zoom). During this time, each team member is invited to report on their activities from the previous day and outline their plans for the next day. This allows us to monitor progress and provide support where necessary.

If you think meetings are pointless, you may switch to communicating through Slack or another app of your choice.

2. 1:1’s

Managers and employees may both benefit from the implementation of regular feedback sessions. It is important to take the time to meet with each individual employee to gain an insight into their experience working for the company and their current role. It is essential to consider their perspectives.

You may also have them rate your performance as a leader and use that information to make adjustments if necessary.

3. Feel What the Other Person Is Experiencing.

It is possible that some of your employees are parents who need to alternate working from home so that one of them can always be available for their children. This could be due to incidents such as their toddler swallowing a butterfly or their dog biting the sofa, which means they may not be able to work for a full day between the hours of 9am and 5pm. The events that occur outside of working hours remain unknown to you.

By demonstrating empathy, you demonstrate trust that they will deliver the desired outcomes. Focus on the outcomes, not the amount of time spent working remotely.

4. Enjoy yourself

Fostering relationships with employees is a keyway to build trust. Regular one-on-one and group meetings are effective for getting to know colleagues, and virtual activities may accelerate this process.

Your team may get together once a week for coffee, or you can create online competitions to play games you all like.

5. Recruit competent individuals

Gaining trust quickly can be achieved through careful recruitment. Taking on a team member who you are not sure of may not result in a successful outcome. This could lead to the need for the use of monitoring tools in the workplace and the need to constantly question their progress and provide assistance, taking up valuable time for both parties.

The purpose of expanding your team is so that you can delegate certain tasks, thus allowing you to focus on more important strategic goals. Trying to manage too much on your own will be unsustainable and will lead to your team members feeling undervalued and distrustful.

Establishing trust when working remotely can be difficult, but when the right employee is recruited, it can be made much simpler. With the confidence of their skills and the quality of their work, it is not necessary to monitor them constantly.

We are able to provide support in your search for the perfect team member. Our expertise lies in helping businesses to find the best technology professionals and in constructing successful remote teams.

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