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Software to Manage a Remote Workforce | Benefits & Features

remote_workforce_management_blog

Software to Manage a Remote Workforce | Benefits & Features

Whether it’s the recent launch of an international office, a global pandemic, or an occasional period of inclement weather, it’s likely that many businesses will face a day in which remote operations become vital to their financial success.

But despite a recent study showing that 59% of U.S. employees are ready to embrace those work-from-home days whenever the need should arise, can the same be said for those managers who find themselves responsible for a team’s daily and long-term productivity?

In this article, Rocket IT aims to equip and educate managers on the technology needed to lead from afar; while also highlighting how productivity tracking software can be used to gamify processes, discover new workflows, build trust, and more.

Challenges Faced While Working Remotely

Before exploring the benefits that come along with productivity tracking applications, it’s important to first address two significant challenges that may present themselves during remote working conditions. Organizations that fail to set IT compliance policies and provide teams with resources to sustain employee accountability can often add a heightened level of stress to managerial roles.

Accountability

Regardless if an employee is a newcomer to the remote working lifestyle or a long-term veteran, managers need proven methods to acknowledge the efforts of their teams and keep them on track for future success. In turn, setting both long-term and short-term goals provides an opportunity to not only highlight progress, but also understand when individuals are ready to take on new responsibilities, grow beyond seemingly mundane work, and progress towards innovation.

And while asking individuals to report their progress towards these goals is one method to measure productivity, those managing a great number of individuals may find it difficult to compare of the work patterns of each employee and set a baseline for what is expected while telecommuting.

Compliance

Along with the challenges general management will face surrounding accountability, managers of a business’ IT department are bound to face some difficulties when attempting to ensure standard cybersecurity policies transition effectively to out-of-office environments.

For example, in a previous article, Rocket IT highlights the importance of only using work-assigned devices to conduct business. Not only do home devices not have the connectivity needed to access remote files, run business applications, or streamline the communicative efforts between teams, they typically don’t have correct security in place to mitigate malicious cyber-attacks.

Furthermore, even when employees are permitted to take business devices into a home network, it may be difficult to conduct regular wellness checks on those devices to ensure they are upholding the security policies practiced in an office environment.

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    Accountability

    Regardless if an employee is a newcomer to the remote working lifestyle or a long-term veteran, managers need proven methods to acknowledge the efforts of their teams and keep them on track for future success. In turn, setting both long-term and short-term goals provides an opportunity to not only highlight progress, but also understand when individuals are ready to take on new responsibilities, grow beyond seemingly mundane work, and progress towards innovation.

    And while asking individuals to report their progress towards these goals is one method to measure productivity, those managing a great number of individuals may find it difficult to compare of the work patterns of each employee and set a baseline for what is expected while telecommuting.

  • 11

    Compliance

    Along with the challenges general management will face surrounding accountability, managers of a business’ IT department are bound to face some difficulties when attempting to ensure standard cybersecurity policies transition effectively to out-of-office environments.

    For example, in a previous article, Rocket IT highlights the importance of only using work-assigned devices to conduct business. Not only do home devices not have the connectivity needed to access remote files, run business applications, or streamline the communicative efforts between teams, they typically don’t have correct security in place to mitigate malicious cyber-attacks.

    Furthermore, even when employees are permitted to take business devices into a home network, it may be difficult to conduct regular wellness checks on those devices to ensure they are upholding the security policies practiced in an office environment.

Not All Platforms are Built the Same

Although some remote workforce management software can improve employee accountability while simultaneously mitigating security risks, understand that not all platforms are developed the same features in mind. Because of this, it’s imperative to compare each available remote workforce management tool on the market, their pricing plans, and how their features can be customized to facilitate your business’ specific needs. With that said, should you have any questions about the benefits or features of remote management tools mentioned in this article, please do not hesitate to reach out to Rocket IT at 770-441-2520.

What is Remote Workforce Management Software?

Despite remote workforce management tools being commonly associated with notions of spying and distrust, the reality is that these defining terms are dependent upon those individuals that control the platform. Take, for example, the idea of an overbearing supervisor. Even without productivity tracking software, it’s likely that he or she is uncomfortably peering over employees’ shoulders; making sure they stay on task. 

When used properly, remote workforce management tools aren’t a form of surveillance, but rather a means by which organizational leaders can obtain an overall picture of how work is conducted both inside and outside the office. From the data gathered through productivity tracking platforms, managers can get an idea of which applications are regularly used, note peak times of performance, and understand how key performers are achieving their goals. In turn, these findings can be used to alter processes that accommodate telecommuting; while also providing managers with insight to better train their teams. 

Is There an Alternative?

But before a business looks to incorporate remote workforce management tools into its tech stack, leaders must first determine if another form of activity tracking better suits their needs. For some businesses, weekly one-on-one conversations between supervisors and employees may be all it takes to address recent productivity. 

In these private calls or staff video chats, team members can recap on the prior week’s accomplishments. Depending upon the role of the individual, key performance indicators may include time spent calling customers, projects completed on time, number of meetings conducted, and more. With that said, keep in mind that this method of productivity tracking can be tedious for larger organizations. Additionally, the information obtained from these meetings only provides an overview of what events occurred; not how they were achieved. 

What are You Attempting to Achieve While Working Remotely?

Should an organization deem remote workforce management tools appropriate for its needs, the next step is to ensure the business’ IT department is fully capable of deploying such software across an entire team; not just single individuals. Once that is assured, management must identify the outcome it hopes to achieve from implementing this tracking software. While there are a variety of end-goals a business may have in mind, activity tracking tools can help to achieve the following results.

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    Reduce Expenses

    In addition to understanding which applications are used most frequently, managers can note software that is irregularly used. Upon cancelling the licenses tied to these applications, managers can allocate those funds to another area of their department’s budget.

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    Improve Customer Service

    By understanding the steps key team players are taking to generate high satisfaction scores among customers, managers can hold informative training sessions; based on statistical data.

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    Limit Employee Turnover

    As mentioned previously, burnout is a real threat to be aware of during remote work. To counteract the risk of employee attrition, remote workforce management software seeks to provide leaders with the tools needed to establish firm work hours and scheduled breaks; ensuring team members make time for other aspects of life.

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    Increase Productivity

    When transitioning to remote work, there are occasions in which in-office procedures must be altered to facilitate telecommuting. If not done properly, this can create some serious bottlenecks; hampering the potential productivity of a team. Remote management software attempts to provide leaders with data to streamline virtualized processes and remove these blockades.

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    Secure Data

    Along with the previously listed items, remote workforce management software can be used to produce a final, but equally crucial result: improved cybersecurity. Depending upon the platform used, many of these programs include an option to set alerts for when internal breaches occur; while also offering the ability to conduct audit trails for legal purposes.

  • 3

    Reduce Expenses

    In addition to understanding which applications are used most frequently, managers can note software that is irregularly used. Upon cancelling the licenses tied to these applications, managers can allocate those funds to another area of their department’s budget.

  • 5

    Improve Customer Service

    By understanding the steps key team players are taking to generate high satisfaction scores among customers, managers can hold informative training sessions; based on statistical data.

  • 2

    Limit Employee Turnover

    As mentioned previously, burnout is a real threat to be aware of during remote work. To counteract the risk of employee attrition, remote workforce management software seeks to provide leaders with the tools needed to establish firm work hours and scheduled breaks; ensuring team members make time for other aspects of life.

  • 7

    Increase Productivity

    When transitioning to remote work, there are occasions in which in-office procedures must be altered to facilitate telecommuting. If not done properly, this can create some serious bottlenecks; hampering the potential productivity of a team. Remote management software attempts to provide leaders with data to streamline virtualized processes and remove these blockades.

  • 4

    Secure Data

    Along with the previously listed items, remote workforce management software can be used to produce a final, but equally crucial result: improved cybersecurity. Depending upon the platform used, many of these programs include an option to set alerts for when internal breaches occur; while also offering the ability to conduct audit trails for legal purposes.

Benefits and Features of Remote Workforce Management Software

Regardless of the results a business is most eager to see, remote workforce management platforms offer a unique opportunity to track the growth of an organization and its teams that may be working outside of the office’s primary location. Keeping that in mind, Rocket IT has compiled a list of some key benefits that should not be overlooked when weighing the pros and cons of implementing activity tracking software across an organization.

remote_workforce_management_blog_2
number1

Productivity

Benefits

Because no two businesses operate identically, there’s no established benchmark to define and justify what qualifies a fruitful workday. Instead, the duty of setting expectations lies on the shoulders of managers. Because of this, activity tracking platforms seek to provide managers with a tool to determine if these expectations are being met; while also adjusting individual workloads to mitigate the risk of employee attrition. In turn, managers can reflect on the data gathered to identify and reward top performers; looking to see if what they’re doing is applicable across an entire team.

number1

Productivity

Benefits

Because no two businesses operate identically, there’s no established benchmark to define and justify what qualifies a fruitful workday. Instead, the duty of setting expectations lies on the shoulders of managers. Because of this, activity tracking platforms seek to provide managers with a tool to determine if these expectations are being met; while also adjusting individual workloads to mitigate the risk of employee attrition. In turn, managers can reflect on the data gathered to identify and reward top performers; looking to see if what they’re doing is applicable across an entire team.

  • 0%

    In a study conducted by Gallup, 29% of fully remote workers state that they have not had the opportunity to review their greatest successes with their manager in the past six months.

  • 0%

    Noting that unappreciated work can be a determining variable of employee turnover, 54% of participants mentioned that they’d leave their job for one that offered more flexibility.

7

Key Features

Workload Balance: To reduce the risk of burnout and maintain standardized levels of productivity, most workforce management applications offer:

  • Computer pop-ups to notify individuals of break times
  • The ability to enforce hours of operation and limit after-hour work
  • A cumulative view of workload patterns and the ability to address spikes when they arise

 

Benchmarking:  By setting a baseline to measure an individual’s productivity while in the office, managers can determine how to better facilitate each team member when a transition to remote work occurs. 

 

Site Filtering: While telecommuting, individuals must take routine breaks to ensure a pleasant work experience. That said, excessively visiting these sites can cause more disruption than good. In turn, productivity management tools provide:

  • Notifications when disruptive sites are accessed
  • Time restraints on social media usage
  • The ability to capture the URLs, titles, and time spent on any site
number2

Engagement

Benefits

While revenue may be the primary interest of management in many businesses, this vision is unachievable with the cooperation of all team members. Therefore, it’s crucial to help individuals understand their strengths, develop interdepartmental conversations, and boost employee engagement. Failing to take these initiatives has the potential to result in disgruntled individuals that undermine management.

In a 2020 study conducted by Gallup, organizations that fostered highly engaged workplaces reaped the following benefits.

number2

Engagement

Benefits

While revenue may be the primary interest of management in many businesses, this vision is unachievable with the cooperation of all team members. Therefore, it’s crucial to help individuals understand their strengths, develop interdepartmental conversations, and boost employee engagement. Failing to take these initiatives has the potential to result in disgruntled individuals that undermine management.

In a 2020 study conducted by Gallup, organizations that fostered highly engaged workplaces reaped the following benefits.

  • 0%

    41% less absentee workers

  • 0%

    40% fewer defects in quality work

  • 0%

    21% higher profitability

6

Key Features

Tracking Passive & Unresponsive Behavior: One of the main draws offered by activity tracking software is the ability to measure employee engagement via the amount of time spent responsive within desktop applications. From this data, managers can:

  • Check which apps are most passively used
  • Assign every employee a disengagement risk score, based on passive behavior
  • Determine the best times to schedule meetings

 

Gamification: Should the engagement activities being tracked have numerical values, such as emails sent, calls made, or meetings held, management has an opportunity to gamify operations through the creation of internal leaderboards.

number3

Resource Allocation

Benefits

Because most business’ assets are finite, especially under excessive telecommuting conditions, remote workforce management software seeks to help leaders best allocate internal resources. And although workforce management platforms can assist in the dispersion of financial assets, using activity tracking applications can determine areas where employees could benefit from training or other educational resources.

Noted in a 2019 statistical analysis conducted by Gallup, organizations that invested in strengths-based development saw the following results:

number3

Resource Allocation

Benefits

Because most business’ assets are finite, especially under excessive telecommuting conditions, remote workforce management software seeks to help leaders best allocate internal resources. And although workforce management platforms can assist in the dispersion of financial assets, using activity tracking applications can determine areas where employees could benefit from training or other educational resources.

Noted in a 2019 statistical analysis conducted by Gallup, organizations that invested in strengths-based development saw the following results:

14% to
%
Increased Profit
10% to
%
Increased Sales
3% to
%
Higher Client Engagement

Key Features

Development Tools: By reviewing the length in which it takes an employee to complete an assigned task, management can offer training to streamline the process; saving both time and frustration for all parties involved. 

License Use: Tracking tools within remote workforce management softwares allow leaders to see which desktop applications are used infrequently. If these are tied to an expensive license, managers may opt to revoke a team’s subscription and disperse the funds elsewhere.

 

HR Tools: For leaders handling the Human Resources operations of an organization, two key features found in some remote workforce platforms may help limit unintended errors. They are:

  • The ability to better track leaves and time off
  • The exclusion of employee-controlled time clocks and a centralized location for payroll information
number4

Cybersecurity

Benefits

Many times, cybersecurity attacks successfully provide hacking groups with access to sensitive information, thanks to the unknown actions of an internal employee. Typically, these attacks come in the form of fraudulent phishing emails that appear authentic, but contain links to dangerous sites where malicious files may be secretly installed on an employee’s computer. While phishing testing and security training can greatly mitigate the risk of such attacks occurring, remote workforce management software gives leaders the comfort of an audit trail, should something go awry.

number4

Cybersecurity

Benefits

Many times, cybersecurity attacks successfully provide hacking groups with access to sensitive information, thanks to the unknown actions of an internal employee. Typically, these attacks come in the form of fraudulent phishing emails that appear authentic, but contain links to dangerous sites where malicious files may be secretly installed on an employee’s computer. While phishing testing and security training can greatly mitigate the risk of such attacks occurring, remote workforce management software gives leaders the comfort of an audit trail, should something go awry.

0

Major business data breaches across the U.S. in 2019

0

Sensitive records exposed in 2019

Key Features

Website and File Flagging: By setting parameters on websites containing potentially harmful code, the IT department of an organization can block employees from accidentally landing on an untrusted site that is looking to install malicious files on their device.

Video Snapshots: Should a fraudulent site accidentally be visited and a security attack occur, some select activity tracking tools allow IT managers to review video footage of what happened immediately before and after the attack. This can serve as a training tool to improve policies and reduce the likelihood of a similar attack occurring in the future.

How to Address Perceived Disadvantages

Despite the extensive list of benefits remote workforce management tools can provide a business and its team members, it’s inevitable that some individuals will only see activity tracking applications as a tool to spy on employees. Should this situation arise, it’s essential to address any perceived disadvantages of the software openly; communicating the intended use of the data collected.

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    Privacy

    First and foremost, activity tracking tools used in remote workforce management software are not meant to solicit personal information from employees. Instead, developers of these platforms understand that work computers can sometimes be used for personal reasons, and implement measures to ensure such data is not collected. For example, some platforms offer organizations the ability to set firm time periods in which data can and cannot be collected from devices. Furthermore, should the program accidentally collect personal information, managers can ask engineers overseeing the platform to redact such data from the timeline.

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    Trust & Morale

    If poorly communicated beforehand, implementing remote management software without proper explanation could persuade some individuals to believe that their employer does not trust their best judgement. Alternatively, management should remind all team members that these platforms provide individuals with an opportunity to better understand what is expected of them; while also offering an effective method to highlight any internal success stories that should come about.

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    Stress

    Although one of the goals associated with activity tracking is to mitigate the risk of employee burnout, it’s likely that some team members will attempt to work harder and take less breaks to improve productivity. Should this arise, it’s management’s duty to explain that the end goal of these platforms is not only to maintain productivity while telecommuting, but also help team members establish a proper work-life balance in the process.

  • 8

    Privacy

    First and foremost, activity tracking tools used in remote workforce management software are not meant to solicit personal information from employees. Instead, developers of these platforms understand that work computers can sometimes be used for personal reasons, and implement measures to ensure such data is not collected. For example, some platforms offer organizations the ability to set firm time periods in which data can and cannot be collected from devices. Furthermore, should the program accidentally collect personal information, managers can ask engineers overseeing the platform to redact such data from the timeline.

  • 9

    Trust & Morale

    If poorly communicated beforehand, implementing remote management software without proper explanation could persuade some individuals to believe that their employer does not trust their best judgement. Alternatively, management should remind all team members that these platforms provide individuals with an opportunity to better understand what is expected of them; while also offering an effective method to highlight any internal success stories that should come about.

  • 10

    Stress

    Although one of the goals associated with activity tracking is to mitigate the risk of employee burnout, it’s likely that some team members will attempt to work harder and take less breaks to improve productivity. Should this arise, it’s management’s duty to explain that the end goal of these platforms is not only to maintain productivity while telecommuting, but also help team members establish a proper work-life balance in the process.

Implementing Remote Workforce Management Software

Because there are a variety of vendors that offer activity tracking and remote management tools, it’s inevitable that there will be some differences in how each is purchased and implemented. Therefore, it’s important that an organization’s leadership team carefully weighs each of the following options before moving forward. 

Licensing: Some applications allow licenses to be purchased and assigned to a specific user, while others are applied to specific machines. Regardless, an organization must ensure it has chosen an option that is both scalable and affordable.

Storage: Depending on the remote workforce management platform, organizations may be given the choice to store collected data locally or in the cloud. In either scenario, measures should be established that balance both information security and accessibility.

Training: Unless an organization has a dedicated IT administrator on hand with prior experience in remote workforce management software, it is likely that training will need to be conducted with those individuals responsible for manning the operation of the chosen platform.

Keeping this information in mind, Rocket IT remains dedicated to helping organizations select and maintain the technology needed to manage remote teams from afar. Should you wish to learn more about specific remote workforce management platforms and their ability to facilitate your business’ unique needs, please feel free to contact Rocket IT using the form below, or by giving our team a call at 770-441-2520.

Infographic Data Resources

Brenan, M. (2020, May 12). U.S. Workers Discovering Affinity for Remote Work. Retrieved from https://news.gallup.com/poll/306695/workers-discovering-affinity-remote-work.aspx
Brim, B. J. (2020, April 17). How a Focus on People's Strengths Increases Their Work Engagement. Retrieved from https://www.gallup.com/workplace/242096/focus-people-strengths-increases-work-engagement.aspx
Clement, J. (2020, March 10). U.S. data breaches and exposed records 2019. Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/273550/data-breaches-recorded-in-the-united-states-by-number-of-breaches-and-records-exposed/
Hickman, A., & Robison, J. (2020, April 29). Is Working Remotely Effective? Gallup Research Says Yes. Retrieved from https://www.gallup.com/workplace/283985/working-remotely-effective-gallup-research-says-yes.aspx
Mann, A. (2020, April 17). 3 Ways You Are Failing Your Remote Workers. Retrieved from https://www.gallup.com/workplace/236192/ways-failing-remote-workers.aspx
Rafter, D. (n.d.). 2019 Data Breaches: 4 Billion Records Breached So Far. Retrieved May 15, 2020, from https://us.norton.com/internetsecurity-emerging-threats-2019-data-breaches.html