Is Management Asking for Return to the Office for the Wrong Reasons?

A staggering 98% of US employees want to work remotely, at least part of the time. Their managers, however, aren’t as excited about the idea. 

Many organizations are pushing for a return to the pre-pandemic norm of workers being at their desks. Over the last year, 43% of companies have set limits around their remote work policies or mandated a return to the office, according to a recent report from ZipRecruiter.

The ZipRecruiter report surveyed more than 2,000 employers and discovered that the main obstacle to fully embracing the remote work model was trust. When asked to explain why they were uneasy with the concept of working remotely, these organizations cited ‘perceived cost to productivity’ as the main reason. 

It seems many employers are still figuring out how to effectively manage and monitor remote teams. Rather than addressing the root causes of this lack of confidence, they’re taking a hardline approach to flexible work schedules and pushing employees back to their desks. 

This may get results in the short-term, but it’s not an ideal long-term solution. Upwork estimates that 32.6 million US employees will be working remotely by 2025. There’s no stopping this trend, so companies will have to keep up. Those that don’t offer remote work options will find it difficult to attract and keep talent, which is necessary considering the massive amount of retirements that are in the pipeline. 

In the United States, 10,000 people a day turn 65 - while some will continue to work past the traditional retirement age due to inflation and other factors, that’s still a massive amount of people who are leaving the workforce in very short order. Replacing them will mean developing policies that appeal to younger generations of workers.

How To Effectively Manage Remote Teams

1. Get To Know Your Team

To trust your employees in a remote setting, you have to know how they work. Managers need to remember that it’s not the place; it’s the people - if your employee is highly conscientious and productive in the office, they’ll be the same at home. Conversely, if there’s someone on your team who habitually slacks off in the office, they’re not likely to be any more productive in their home environment.

When you know your team’s individual strengths and weaknesses, you can better plan for managing them at a distance. This could mean providing extra support and oversight for the under-performers while making sure that the high-performing rock stars aren’t headed for burnout. Managers also want to pay attention to the middle of those two extremes, the average performers who keep the company running and consistently look for ways to help them improve.

2. Set Clear Targets

Focusing on performance rather than productivity reduces the temptation to micromanage. Instead of constantly checking in with employees to make sure they’re at their desks, set clear goals and leave them to it.

Outlining and communicating your expectations from the outset helps foster engagement with your team, showing them that you trust them to get the job done. If someone falls short - they don’t meet a deadline, they let projects flounder - you can then take action to establish why and course correct. Act only when there's a problem rather than assuming there’ll be a problem.

3. Address Efficiency Gaps

Working with employees spread around the country requires a heightened level of organization. If your processes aren’t up to scratch, now’s the time to work out the kinks and remove operational obstacles to productivity.

Streamlining workflows doesn’t just make life easier for employees, it can also give managers a confidence boost that everything is running smoothly. Make sure your team knows the chain of communication and their role in every task, and give them the tech they need to virtually communicate and collaborate.

4. Use The Right Tools

For the employers surveyed by ZipRecruiter, the biggest downside to remote work was the inability to effectively monitor staff. 

It’s an understandable fear, but managers don’t have to lose visibility just because their teams are out of sight. Non-invasive Employee Productivity Monitoring (EPM) solutions can help bridge this gap.

Prodoscore is an EPM platform that unobtrusively tracks employee activity. The software doesn’t track keystrokes or collect personal data. Instead, it looks at how teams are using their company’s cloud-based tools to gain insights into the behaviors that lead to success and where there may be opportunities to improve. 

Prodoscore integrates with your existing IT architecture to monitor the use of core business applications such as project management platforms, CRMs, email, and more. The software collects critical data points that help visualize  performance over time, spotting trends and patterns early.

With the data at their fingertips, presented from an easy-to-use dashboard, managers can have confidence that every team member is working as they should and that no potential problems are slipping through unnoticed.

Contact us today to schedule a demonstration or find out more about how Prodoscore can transform your organization’s remote work policy.

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