The Remote Employee’s Dilemma of Choosing Between Work and Life

Employees who are based remotely have consistently been shown to be more productive than those who work in traditional office settings. Despite this, there is a lingering stigma attached to those who work from home, suggesting they are either putting in the bare minimum effort to stay employed or are sacrificing their well-being through extreme workaholism. Neither of these are accurate representations of the majority of people who work remotely, who generally manage their time and workloads effectively.

It is true that there are remote employees who behave in an unsatisfactory manner, however, these cases are usually at the extremes of the remote working spectrum. It is highly important to be aware of the potential negatives that can arise from having a remote worker who is a ‘slacker’ or is unable to regulate their hours effectively. If this is the case, it can have a detrimental effect on the productivity and efficiency of the team as a whole.

As a specialist, online staffing firm, we have seen it all when it comes to employee conduct. We have heard every cliché and have identified the following strategies for how employers can identify this type of conduct in their employees, and what steps can be taken to prevent it.

Idle Person

It is important to acknowledge that basing productivity of remote employees on the amount of time they spend typing is not an effective measure. Furthermore, this practice disregards the fact that office-based employees are not required to ‘show up’ to work. The key benefit of remote working is the flexibility it provides, allowing employees to work when is most convenient for them, enabling them to increase productivity. For early birds, the morning chorus may be beneficial, while night owls may draw inspiration from sounds at night.

In our view, it is preferable to assess remote employees based on their deliverables rather than the number of keystrokes they make. If they are completing the tasks you assign in the way that you anticipate and in a timely manner, the pace of their work is of secondary importance. There are occasions when taking a break from the computer and allowing the brain to wander is the most beneficial option for stimulating creativity, particularly when dealing with complicated issues such as those encountered when writing software. Your remote developer is not being idle if they are producing results that meet your expectations.

If the results of the project are not up to the expected standard, or if there appears to be a lack of care and attention in the work produced, this could be an issue. Similarly, if there is no response to phone calls during working hours, no communication in the designated Slack channel, and no updates to the assigned tasks, then this could be indicative of a problem.

Instances when you may put this knowledge to use

If you have already taken the necessary steps to hire a remote worker, it is essential that a contract has been drawn up outlining the expectations of both parties. If your digital nomad is not adhering to these expectations, it is important to have a conversation to ensure that the agreement is being fulfilled.

It can be all too easy to assume that those who appear to be slacking are simply sitting back and enjoying too much of The Umbrella Academy, however, this may not necessarily be the case. When a remote worker is the only one available, it can be difficult to make any progress as they are reliant on other members of the team to provide the necessary input.

For those who are new to remote working, developing a consistent approach to time management can be challenging. To help them adjust to this new way of working, it may be beneficial to provide extra assistance such as breaking down larger tasks into smaller chunks and setting daily deadlines.

Using a programme such as Cold Turkey could be beneficial for those who find themselves being easily distracted by checking out the latest XKCD comic during work hours. This application can help employees to differentiate between their personal and professional time, as well as restricting access to certain websites while they are working.

It is not our recommendation that you make use of time monitoring tools for your remote workers. We have demonstrated that assessing output rather than input time is a more favourable approach. Nevertheless, if you have an issue with an employee, it could be beneficial to help them to self-train to stay focused by implementing some of our non-invasive suggestions, such as Timely. Nevertheless, you should aim to keep administrative duties to a minimum in order to avoid replacing one type of distraction with another.

This is an ideal opportunity to clarify any expectations of employment that have not been previously established. It is important to document your working hours, taking into account any cross-timezone differences. Furthermore, it is important to specify which methods of communication should be used, what is expected of the employee, and how they can contact you with any questions outside of regular business hours.

What Caused the Explosion

As a consequence of being idle, burnout can be a detrimental result. A perfect example of this can be found in Sandra Bullock’s character in the movie ‘The Net’, who is a hermit who masks their true identity by dedicating the majority of their time in front of a computer, labouring away at programming. It is generally accepted that remote staff are able to put in up to seven more hours of work a week, thus resulting in improved productivity.

Working in customer service is not just about showing up when one is unwell and colleagues are staying away from the workplace. It requires starting the day’s work while colleagues are finishing and continuing after they have gone back home. It means taking responsibility for responding to technical queries and keeping an eye on emails even during the evenings and weekends.

Although this approach may be successful in terms of code lines, it can become a cause of concern when the work becomes too much to handle. Working long hours in the office can have a detrimental effect on our mental and physical health, as well as our personal satisfaction. It is essential that we take responsibility for the emotional and physical welfare of our team members, and ensure that they lead a life which is balanced between work and their family and friends.

Instances when you may put this knowledge to use

It is important to have a conversation with your super-coder and point out to them that if they are overworking, it could be a sign that they are attempting to avoid addressing personal issues. It is in your best interests for them to remain healthy and productive, so it is important to remind them of the risks of pushing themselves too hard.

It is important to evaluate the amount of work that the team are expected to complete. Having an excellent team brings its own challenges, as the news of their talent will spread and other teams may require their assistance. It is essential to consider whether the team are being asked to complete tasks that take an excessive amount of time to complete. As their manager, what measures can you take to ensure that they are not being overworked?

It would be beneficial to explore the reasons why your development staff are working such long hours. It could be that they are covering for colleagues who are absent, responding to queries or taking on tasks to ensure deadlines are met. If this is the case, it may be possible to reduce the burden on your development staff by establishing a help desk to which all support enquiries can be directed.

Given the situation, it appears that providing the employee with a period of enforced leave may be the most sensible solution. Ensure that they select a number of days that they will be away and confirm that all required work has been handed over before they go. Make it clear to the rest of your staff that they should not attempt to contact the employee while they are away.

The Perfect Work-From-Home Employee

As remote working continues to become increasingly popular, it is becoming more commonplace for positions to be filled remotely. As a result, a growing number of individuals are choosing to work from home. However, not everyone has the skillset or ability to work in this environment successfully and with ease.

If you are looking to hire a remote developer with the necessary technical skills and experience, it is important to contact us as soon as possible in order to make sure that you get the best individual for the job. At our initial hiring process, we always consider the technical skills and experience with remote work for all potential employees. Therefore, if you are looking for a great remote developer, we would be more than happy to provide our assistance.

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