Do you really trust people when they work from home?

There is always an elephant in the room during discussions about remote working.

We all know the practice is something that is going to continue to increase but how comfortable are we about people ‘Working From Home’?

People often joke about it. Staff raise their eyebrows when some of their colleagues might appear to spend a great deal of time ‘working from home’. Do we really know how much time they are working versus surfing TradeMe?

It brings up the question of trust, always a big issue in any workplace.

It all begins at school. How much are we trusted as students to work on our own, unsupervised? How much do children and teenagers really apply themselves diligently to homework?

Self-directed learning has been a trend for a while, but it does not suit everyone. Let’s face it, we all have memories of fellow students who would fall either into the camp of ‘disruptive’ or ‘swot’. Every classroom had both, and so too in the workplace.

It would seem that to create productive, engaged employees in the future our learning and working styles are going to have to become increasingly self sufficient and unsupervised.

There are some clever pieces of technology designed to keep an eye on physically unsupervised employees.

oDesk has been designed for contractors and other remote employees who never report to the main office, or for those who easily get distracted when working on their own.

In a nutshell it’s like having your boss peak over your shoulder around 6 times an hour! It takes computer screen shots randomly six times an hour.

As one blog on the subject puts it: “Invasive, micromanagement, violating… maybe; but in the long run if it gets the employers happy and there is no fuss, or for the employees to get work done with minimum distractions, then why not?”

It is claimed the oDesk approach also builds on trust and the reliance of remote employees.

MonkeyMonitor clocks working hours, taking screenshots, tracking keystrokes and mouse clicks. “MonkeyMonitor is a simple tool that provides the missing link between Mr Boss-Man and the virtual team.” That’s what they say on their website anyway.

Some of the easiest methods for better remote employee interaction are also free – think Skype and WebEx.

In the long run changing the mind set to “interaction” rather than “monitoring” is likely to build better relationships.

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