Over the recent years, we’ve come to the point when having workers in suits sit in cubicles from 9 am to 5 pm is becoming less and less common. Now, going to work at 11.15 dressed in shorts and a T-shirt isn’t so weird any more. Open-plan offices, no dress code, flexible working hours and remote work are slowly but surely becoming the definition of a modern workplace.
There are companies that still employ only in-office workers and there’s a number of fully remote companies, but there’s also a growing number of companies who have both kinds of staff. And this is an interesting position because managers are faced with a question of what kind of performance they should expect from remote workers compared to in-office staff. Should you maintain the same standard across different working arrangements or are they so different that it renders this strategy impossible?
In this article, we’ll talk about the differences between telecommuters and in-office employees in the way they work and what your expectations should be. We’ll also touch on why implementing remote monitoring software might be a good idea since company tracking software can help you measure the performance of either type of worker.
One of the most obvious differences between remote and office workers is the frequency, ease and mode of communication with their colleagues and with you.
What’s immediately apparent is the fact that you can’t just approach a remote worker and talk to them face-to-face. Communication in the office is easy, employees can ‘connect’ with each other right away and even if you can’t reach someone, you generally don’t need employee software tracking to tell you why - you can see that they’re talking over the phone or having a lunch break.
On the other hand, if you want to talk to your remote employee for a second, you’ll need technology - some sort of instant messaging platform, for example. And if they’re not replying to your message for a couple of seconds, it’s not immediately obvious whether it’s because they’re grabbing a glass of water, in which case they’ll be back in 4 seconds, or they’re walking their dog and won’t be available for the next 15 minutes. In cases of urgency, this makes all the difference.
Luckily, though, you can have some idea of what your remote workforce is doing if you’re using remote monitoring software which will tell you whether an employee’s been inactive for some time or they’re immersed in work.
Office working isn’t all that rosy either. The fact that communication is so easy to establish means that employees will use it and talk to each other maybe a bit more than necessary. If you want the luxury of instant live collaboration in the office, having a lot more distractions is a price to pay.
Seeing is believing. If you pay your employees for 8 hours of work daily, you naturally want some sort of proof of work that their time and your money is worthwhile. It doesn’t matter where they work, as long as they do.
In-office work monitoring is a combination of things - you can see them, you can be sure that their team lead or their colleagues always know what’s going on and you can also use software to track PC activity.
But with employees who work from home, remote monitoring software is the only (completely legal and ethical) way to track what they’re doing.
In either case, overseeing your workers is important not only as proof of work but also because you need some ground for employee evaluations, promotion, work delegation, as well as general process and performance optimization.
A big difference between remote and office employees is the way they organize their day and work. Remote workers typically have a lot more flexibility - they can start working as soon as they wake up or they can work for a couple of hours, then make a huge break and go back to work later. In-office employees will usually want to do their work in one go and they’re sometimes restricted to office hours, so they don’t enjoy as much freedom and flexibility.
One thing you can do is trust your telecommuters to organize their time in the most productive way for them, which you can encourage by giving them access to their reports within remote monitoring software so that they can use the insights to improve their performance.
Company Culture and Team Belonging
Probably one of the biggest advantages of in-office working is that employees get to be immersed in the company culture directly and all the time. These employees also have a greater sense of belonging to the team and their collaboration is more natural.
For remote workforce, maintaining the company culture is much more difficult and requires taking active steps - organizing team buildings, having active casual team chat threads, calling them in to the office from time to time, and so on.
Expectations and Standards
So, should you treat remote and office workers exactly the same? Well, not really. Their working styles, organization and the way they communicate and collaborate with other people in your company differ just enough to make it unfair to treat them the same. You have to adjust communication, PC activity tracker use and time management to their respective needs.
What you should never have different expectations for, however, is the quality of work they produce. You shouldn’t expect more or less from remote workers than you do from in-office staff. Missing the deadline is no less serious if an employee is in the office. And great work is just as great if done from home.
Working from home comes with its challenges but having a remote workforce has many benefits, too. The same could be said for working at the office. One isn’t inherently better than the other. With a little tweaking and experimenting, you’ll realize that some employees prefer telecommuting and others don’t, and that some job positions are better suited for a particular style of work. The important thing is to be aware of the differences and challenges, adjust your expectations accordingly and learn how to get the best out of both.