You’re here because you want to monitor employees working from home, right?
Well, you’ve come to the right place 😎
Let’s jump right in!
Table of Contents
- How to Monitor Employees Working from Home
- Why Monitor Employee Workload? Here are 4 Good Reasons
- Work From Home Monitoring Tools
How to Monitor Employees Working from Home
So how do employers monitor employees working from home? Here are 7 good ways.
1. Track employee email activity.
Did you know that the modern professional spends 28-50% of their workday in their email inbox? That’s a lot of time spent emailing.
But just knowing that they are spending time in their email inbox isn’t enough for managers. You need to know what’s actually happening during that time.
Who are they emailing? How many emails did they send and receive today? How quickly do they respond to new leads or customers?
Email is a solid telltale of the amount of work someone is handling at any given time. The more emails someone is sending and receiving, the busier they likely are.
If you want to visualize your employees’ email activity, you’ll need EmailAnalytics.
EmailAnalytics syncs with your employees’ email accounts so you can see how many emails they’re sending and receiving, who their top senders and recipients are, their busiest times of day and days of the week, average email response times, and much more.
It lets you quickly see who on your team is busiest, who isn’t pulling their weight, and how you might re-balance workloads to optimize productivity and efficiency on your team.
This is my favorite method for how to monitor staff working from home.
With EmailAnalytics, you’ll get a daily or weekly email report that shows you each of your team member’s email activity for the previous day or week, which means you can monitor workloads and email activity without even needing to leave your inbox.
And the best part? Your employees don’t have to do anything different at all. EmailAnalytics tracks their activity silently and completely in the background.
So your team can just continue working as they normally do, and you get all the insight into that activity you need to manage your team effectively.
- EmailAnalytics (the one and only!) 😎
2. Implement time tracking software.
Your next option is using some kind of employee productivity tracking tool to keep tabs on how your employees are spending time throughout the day.
These tools usually encourage your employees to start and stop a built-in timer, as appropriate, whenever they begin a new task.
Depending on how you manage this implementation, you could mandate that employees track all their work throughout the day, or only use it for certain types of projects.
Either way, you’ll be able to log in and see how your employees are using their time, evaluating which of your employees are busiest with productive work and which ones have time to fill.
This method has some weaknesses, however; for example, time tracking isn’t ideal for keeping track of things like phone calls and impromptu meetings, and there’s always the chance your employees are fabricating their time usage.
Be sure to check out our list of the best time tracking apps here for more work from home monitoring options.
3. Use a project / task management app.
Project and task management apps come in many different varieties, but they all have the same purpose: helping your business manage, organize, and assign tasks related to various projects.
When you get a new project, a project manager or supervisor will create it in the app, at which point they can assign employees to work on that project.
At any point, you can log in and see which employees are assigned to which projects, and if any employees need more tasks to fill their day.
These apps aren’t ideal as an all-in-one employee workload monitoring tool because they leave so many unanswered questions. For example, they don’t typically address employee tasks not relevant to a particular project (like, say, organizing their email inbox).
And different projects may come with different levels of responsibility or time commitment, making them hard to quantify.
4. Create task lists.
Task lists can work within the context of project management apps, but they focus on individual tasks assigned to people, rather than high-level projects.
They offer a few key advantages over merely using project tracking; for example, you’ll be able to see if a project is disproportionately distributed, like if one employee has 70 percent of the tasks associated with that project assigned to them.
You can also track tasks not associated with a particular project, like administrative responsibilities.
There are also a few problems with using task lists for monitoring employees working from home. For starters, you’ll need some kind of system to evaluate the relative burden of each task; not all tasks will serve as an equal unit of responsibility.
Creating and managing tasks also becomes work in and of itself; supervisors or employees will need to make new tasks for everything they do, and remember to check them off when finished.
Accordingly, even the best task systems end up having discrepancies that reduce the accuracy of its tracking.
Improve your team's email response time by 42.5% With EmailAnalytics
- 35-50% of sales go to the first-responding vendor.
- Following up within an hour increases your chances of success by 7x.
- The average professional spends 50% of their workday on email.
5. Require self-reporting.
If you trust your employees, or if you have a small team, you could also institute some policy related to self-reporting.
As a simple example, you could have each of your employees send a brief email report to a manager or supervisor at the end of the day, explaining which projects they’re currently working on, how busy they feel, and whether they feel capable of taking on more responsibilities.
This is useful because it allows for some degree of subjective analysis; workers can determine for themselves whether they’re underworked, overworked, or whether they have a balanced workload.
Of course, this also allows for some room to misrepresent workloads.
Even if you have implicit trust in your employees, it’s a good idea to have some objective form of measurement, independent of this system.
6. Require managerial supervision and reports.
Instead of asking your employees to volunteer information about their current workloads, you could task your managers and supervisors with actively monitoring, reporting on, and if necessary, rebalancing employee workloads.
Give them the freedom to choose whichever combination of employee workload monitoring tools they wish to use, and provide them with the tools they need to succeed.
Chances are, you’ll need to use this in combination with one or more of the other strategies on this list.
The big difference here is that your supervisors will be empowered to adjust their approach as they see fit, and your employees won’t be directly responsible for the tracking or reporting process.
7. Observe subjective factors.
Most of this article has described systems that favor objective methods of tracking employee workloads, particularly for tracking employees working from home, and for good reason; objective evidence is highly reliable and easy to analyze.
But you might also want to incorporate some level of subjective analysis, especially when it comes to employee morale.
Pay close attention to how your employees behave when they’re in the office, and use those behavioral cues as your guide for establishing their current workload.
For example, do you notice that one of your employees seems grumpy, or more stressed than usual, and is staying late to catch up their work?
They might have an excessively high workload. Is one of your employees meandering from cubicle to cubicle, and hurriedly minimizing their web browser whenever they notice a supervisor walking by?
They might have a smaller workload than they should.
Why Monitor Employee Workload? Here are 4 Good Reasons
Why is monitoring employee workload important?
1. Balance workloads and delegate.
First, you’ll have the opportunity to balance your employee workloads, and/or delegate work to the most appropriate people. For example, let’s say you have a team of 5 people, all working on the same types of tasks.
Among them, 1 person has 10 tasks assigned to them for the week, 3 people have 15 tasks each, and 1 person has 25 tasks assigned to them.
Understanding this workload balance allows you to shift at least a few tasks from that overworked individual to people who can better accommodate them, ultimately resulting in more tasks being completed in a timely manner.
2. Prevent burnout and boost morale.
Don’t neglect the importance of employee morale. In general, according to working from home productivity statistics, employees who work from home tend to be happier, less stressed, and more productive.
Happy employees tend to be more productive employees, and stressed or overworked employees tend to leave. Monitoring employee workloads helps you proactively identify when your employees are taking on an unsustainable amount of work, so you can work with them to achieve a better balance.
This is especially important for the overachievers on your team, who might take on more than they reasonable can in a bid to exceed expectations.
Inevitably, you’re going to hire some weak links, who either aren’t interested in pulling their weight or who aren’t naturally disciplined enough to achieve their full potential.
Monitoring employee workloads helps you pinpoint team members who aren’t taking on enough tasks, or who aren’t speaking up when they don’t have enough work on their plates.
That way, you can work with these people to help them improve and produce more for your organization, such as these ways to motivate employees to maximize productivity.
4. Identify sources of inefficiency.
Workload monitoring is also a good way to notice when you’re running some inefficient or unproductive processes.
For example, if you notice that your employee workloads are constantly unbalanced, it could be a sign that your task distribution system isn’t efficient.
If you notice that one of your busiest employees also has one of the smallest workloads, it could be a sign that they aren’t spending their time wisely.
Work From Home Monitoring Tools
If you’re looking for remote employee monitoring software, click that link, and you’ll see our top picks! You’ll find work from home productivity trackers and work from home tracking software to suit all your needs.
Every possible method to monitor employees working from home is going to have strengths and weaknesses, so choose the method or combination that most closely fits your business’s needs.
And don’t be afraid to help train your employees how to be better at working from home!
You can start by showing them these 51 work from home tips that are scientifically proven to boost productivity.
If you’re an employee who isn’t able to work from home but wish you could, then be sure to see our guide to how to ask to work from home! And for more insights, tips, and tools, see my post on how to know if remote employees are working.
Are you ready to start monitoring employees working from home, and take control over your team’s productivity?
With EmailAnalytics, you’ll be able to visualize and monitor incoming and outgoing emails, busy email times and days, and dozens of other metrics to help you understand and visualize the workload and productivity of your team. Sign up for a free trial today!
And here are a few quick links to further resources to help you monitor employees working from home:
- 10 Employee Productivity Tracking Software Tools
- 21 Best Remote Employee Monitoring Software Tools
- 15 Working From Home Productivity Statistics
- 51 Working From Home Tips Scientifically Proven to Boost Productivity (send this to your employees!)
- 17 Employee Productivity Stats Every Manager Needs to Measure
- 21 Employee Recognition Ideas to Keep Your Employees Motivated
- 21 Essential Tools for Remote Teams
Jayson is a long-time columnist for Forbes, Entrepreneur, BusinessInsider, Inc.com, and various other major media publications, where he has authored over 1,000 articles since 2012, covering technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship. He keynoted the 2013 MarketingProfs University, and won the “Entrepreneur Blogger of the Year” award in 2015 from the Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs. In 2010, he founded a marketing agency that appeared on the Inc. 5000 before selling it in January of 2019, and he is now the CEO of EmailAnalytics.