For a growing number of workers, going to work means commuting a few steps from the bedroom to the home office. The office might even be the living room couch or the dining room table.

Companies of all sizes are increasingly allowing work-from-home arrangements to save on the overhead expense of office space, offer employees greater flexibility, and expand their talent pool to the best people across the world, not just the best local people.

Managing a remote workforce requires trusting the people you employ, but many companies also crave more tangible methods of monitoring how home-based workers are spending their time. How does their efficiency and productivity stack up to on-site workers?

The Solution: Employee Monitoring Software

Employee monitoring software — sometimes called employee tracking or productivity monitoring — automates the process of analyzing how employees spend their work hours. The software logs how many hours are spent on certain projects or for certain clients, as well as how many hours are spent idle.

Managers and company leaders can keep tabs on which apps are used and which websites are visited, and for how long. The software generates activity reports and charts that offer at-a-glance results and employee comparisons when time is short, but it also allows for deeper information dives.

Advanced employee monitoring software also doubles as a data breach prevention tool, reducing the risk of insider threats by tracking and alerting you to risky or suspicious employee behavior. That could include things like printing or emailing sensitive customer data, but companies can also set their own customized alerts to identify organization-specific risks.

Benefits of Remote Employee Monitoring

The benefits to employers are pretty obvious. You can identify whether certain employees are wasting too much time, either on non-work-related activities or work that is not a high priority. You can track and evaluate how projects are moving along, using the information to prioritize or reprioritize.

Employee monitoring is a great motivator, encouraging staff to work harder and prove that they are productive and efficient. The software also reduces the amount of time managers have to spend contacting employees for updates and status requests. That information is available with a couple clicks.

For companies that bill clients by the hour, employee monitoring is especially beneficial. The software allows for precise tracking of the time spent working for each client, leading to fair and accurate billing. It’s also a great way to track billable hours from freelancers and contractors.

Does Employee Tracking Erode Trust?

Some employees might be wary of monitoring software, fearing that they’ll be reprimanded for any amount of idle time. A few might simply be uncomfortable with the idea that they’re being “watched.” However, most remote workers — particularly if they are hard workers — will understand why you’d want to keep track of what off-site workers are doing each day.

To implement remote employee monitoring without a lot of backlash, it’s important to be upfront and honest. Tell employees that you’re using the software, rather than letting them find out through the rumor mill, and explain the benefits to the company, including more efficient management, less micro-managing, the ability to track client hours, and insights that can help prioritize certain tasks and activities.

Over time, remote employee monitoring can actually build trust, assuring managers that the staff they have in place is productive and spends time wisely. Over time, managers will adapt to letting these highly-productive people work almost autonomously, which employees appreciate.

Of course, it’s also important to be reasonable when assessing employee hours and productivity. You don’t expect on-site employees to be glued to their computers 100 percent of the time — they need to talk to other employees, take a few minutes here and there to recharge and, of course, eat lunch — so the same standards should apply to remote workers. Click below to learn more about Teramind.