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How Small Businesses Use Employee Monitoring to Build Trust with Remote Teams and Boost Performance

When you think of employee monitoring, your brain may initially jump to large, controlling corporations patrolling their thousands of workers. In reality, this idea is simply a myth, as small businesses can use employee monitoring to build trust amongst their remote teams, boost productivity, increase operational efficiency and benefit employees in multiple ways.

In my personal experience, using a monitoring system such as Teramind has opened up opportunities to work with freelancers, understand problems my team members are facing, improve dialogue with remote workers and ensure my small business is hiring productive employees. Overall, it has not been a policing tool, but instead has allowed me to keep my business on track and build trust with remote workers.

While monitoring systems can be useful for large companies who cannot keep track of workers’ productivity as closely as smaller ones, there are multiple benefits for both business owners and employees in small to mid-sized companies. In this article, I will give an overview of how remote employee monitoring has helped scale my own mid-sized team. 

It can be hard to establish some foundation of trust in a relationship between employees and employers, especially when the job is entirely remote. 

In order to prove to team members that you already trust them and the purpose of monitoring is not to police them, employers should be transparent about the tracking process and goals behind it. A monitoring program should never be installed secretly and used without prior consent from the employees. Instead, informing workers of what exactly is tracked can help dispel any misconceptions about what is monitored. 

If the entire team understands that monitoring can be beneficial to not only the overall productivity of the company, but also to themselves and their coworkers, a more positive outlook on employee monitoring can be established. With my remote team members, this positive perspective has created a foundation of trust between us. 

Employee monitoring is most importantly a tool of understanding, not a method of policing. If a boss notices one worker is less productive than others, this can lead to a conversation about the workload, time management, or methods to help improve for the future. 

Noticing a team member was not too productive does not mean they will be punished. Instead, one may realize they piled on too much work for one person, which can lead to changes for future projects. This can help the business overall and lead to future happiness and understanding amongst the work team.

In my personal experience, I noticed outlier activity with one of my freelancers. I was confused as to why the productivity levels were lower than usual, so I asked him to jump on a quick call with me. We discussed what was going on and both gained a better understanding and were able to improve our business relationship moving forward.

Although not the norm, there are ill-intentioned freelancers who have scammed business owners by artificially boosting the amount of hours they have worked. The lack of accountability with remote working causes this problem, but monitoring freelancers’ computers prevents them from charging for additional hours they were not working during. 

The monitoring system also allows small businesses owners to do an initial screening. Freelancers who refuse to work while being monitored can quickly be filed out of possible hires. Immediate refusal to be monitored is a red flag, as freelancers should only be charging the hours they are working on the project anyway. If they have something to hide right off the bat, that is concerning for me as an employer. 

The ability to screen benefits the worker as well after completing a job. Once the initial trust is established and the employer can see the freelancer using their time productively, that freelancer is more likely to be hired again in the future. In my own experience, I’ve even hired freelancers to work full-time for my company after going through this process. 

Today, attention span is at an all time low. With social media and notifications popping up throughout the day on digital devices, it is easier than ever to lose focus and fall into a spiral down Google searches and social media. 

If workers are monitored, they are less likely to waste time during working hours and will instead be more attentive and focused. It is tempting to check Facebook or to watch a YouTube video, but if workers are less distracted and more productive on their work, they will consequently have more free time. With this, they will be able to finish projects and truly enjoy these activities later on. 

When people hear about monitoring systems, they might initially believe it will be used only to determine which workers are performing at lower productivity levels than everyone else. This is only a myth, as they help identify all outlier activity. 

The monitoring can also bring attention to high performing employees whose productivity levels may have otherwise gone unnoticed. This can be used as an opportunity for reward as it can open up a doorway for a promotion, raise, or bonus. 

Not only is this good news for outstanding employees, but this can also help their coworkers improve. Employee monitoring, such as Teramind, has a feature which compares the productivity of each worker on days, weeks or months. If a boss notices that one worker has much higher productivity levels than others, they can have a conversation with them to see what they are doing differently. 

By learning about what works better and what methods help certain workers perform better, the business owner can then teach the rest of the team how to improve. All in all, it is a win-win situation.

Small business owner’s commonly need a skillset beyond their team’s expertise. Personally, my Google AdWords management company needed computer programmers – something my workers and I do not have expert knowledge of. Monitoring systems have allowed us to hire remote computer software engineers with full trust in their skills because the application shows you videos and screenshots of what the employees are working on.

Watching the videos of what these outsiders are working on can not only build trust, but can also help the small business owner gain insight and understanding into what the process looks like and how they spend their time on a project. This can help explain why it took as long as it did to finish a project and also prove the employee’s knowledge in that field.  

When a new member to the team is hired, it can take some time for them to prove that they are competent and eager for the job. With the help of a monitoring system, a new worker has the opportunity to display their hard work and productivity within days. 

Building trust with workers is crucial for small businesses as the team consists of only a few members and each person’s productivity creates a big difference for the entire team. Having the opportunity to check if their new employees are responsible, honest and productive allows small business owners to build trust faster.

Small to mid-sized businesses consist of teams with only a few members, which make the productivity levels of each worker crucial. Trusting each employee and having faith in their abilities is necessary for the success of the business. Introducing a monitoring application helps to build a foundation for trust, especially if the team is entirely remote. 

Not only are monitoring systems a great tool for improving productivity and building trust, but they are simple and easy to use. I am able to monitor employee performance while they are clocked in and it is easy to check in on their activity.

My own experience using Teramind has helped build trust, improve productivity and helped both myself and my team members in various ways, making it a no-brainer for other small business owners to evaluate using it for their own companies.

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Lior Krolewicz

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