Three mistakes when dealing with remote employees

Issue 9 2020 Security Services & Risk Management

Switching to remote work is a daunting challenge for a company. Many risk factors and pitfalls can reduce efficiency and lead many business processes to a dead end. Contrary to popular opinion, employees are not the only weak point in this chain. Often, the productivity killer is micro-management.

Here are three tips to avoid to ensure remote working actually works for both employer and employee.

Mistake 1: incorrect organisation of remote work

There is a widespread opinion that remote work is a kind of ‘freedom’ for employees, but the truth is that supervising managers have no less temptation.

There is another side to the coin. Some managers believe that remote work is a new type of slavery or serfdom and the employee must be in touch 24/7. After all, the truth is that the computer and phone are now always at hand, why not?

Sergey Ozhegov.

To avoid extremes, it is advisable not to change the rules of the game. Keep an established schedule in the home office as well. If employees used to start work at 9 a.m. and finish at 6 p.m., there is no need to invent anything else.

Of course, if there is an urgent situation, overtime work takes place. However, this should not become a new reality and a daily norm.

Mistake 2: lack of working ‘remote’ units

Here you can definitely rain on your own parade. A personal computer should not be used at work, especially if the employee has access to critical information. Cutting expenses like this means putting the information security of your business at risk.

In this case, a reasonable employer should allocate a laptop to each employee and pre-install all work programs, including a data protection one. This is more convenient for everyone: the employer is protected from inefficient spending, abuse, and violations; the employee is protected from intrusions into personal space.

Of course, it is possible to install the necessary software on a personal laptop, but it is recommended to gain the written consent of the employee. There is another obstacle with a BYOD philosophy. A number of systems, e.g. monitoring software, DLP systems, and tracking programs do not care whether an employee is in his ‘working mode’ or just chilling. The above-mentioned software analyses all the information stored and processed. It is unlikely that an employer can demand such ‘openness’, nor would the employee accept such surveillance.

Mistake 3: neglecting of the monitoring of working time

It is surprising, but some managers are still squeamish about management tools such as time monitoring systems. They say that all they need is the result, not just eight hours' presence. In April, we conducted a survey which showcased that less than 50% of the companies that switched to remote work control employee performance using specialised software.

I am convinced that the conflict of personal space and employee control is inevitable when switching to teleworking. To create discipline, reduce the stress and reach maximum productivity, it is indispensable to clearly divide the day into working and non-working hours. The manager will not need to closely interrogate their employees every hour to check whether they are involved in business processes. With the help of appropriate software, there is no fuss while full visibility of the working progress of staff is available.

There is a new reality. Accept and adapt

Both managers and employees experience difficulties while adapting to a changing reality of things. In times of crisis, there is certainly a feeling of overwhelming pressure, and the most sensible thing to do is to pull yourself together and not kill the employee’s motivation with micromanagement. Luckily, there are already enough techniques and technical tools for an adequate organisation of work.

Various companies have been following the work-from-home norm since the onset of the pandemic. Tech giants like Google and Facebook are allowing employees to work from home up until July 2021. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg even said that almost half of its employees could work remotely in the next five to ten years. Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft do not have any plans to reopen their offices before early 2021. Moreover, some companies are allowing remote work even after the pandemic ends. These include Twitter, Square, Shopify, Coinbase, and many more.

We also plan to keep the current number of remote employees. This experience did not come to us with a crisis, so we have already found the best solutions to all possible pitfalls. Various technological advancements have changed the perception of what is possible and what is not.

Working from home is the new normal, and managers must adapt their techniques to not hinder work, but to boost it.

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