Lots of employees are still working from home – and may continue to do so for the foreseeable future.  For some companies, remote work is just a way of life. For others, especially those whose business model relies primarily on office work, a shift to increased remote work can prompt the question:
How can I tell if my remote employees are working?
A simple answer is: if the work gets done, they’re working, right?
But we can look at the question a little deeper for greater insight.

Who are your remote employees? Why are they remote?

Today’s technology makes remote work not only possible but simple, which is why it has become so common. There are many reasons why you may choose to enable either a handful of remote workers or an entire mobile workforce:
Eliminate the overhead of an office.
Hire top talent regardless of location.
Allow employees to continue contributing while dealing with a personal situation (rather than taking time off, or worse leaving the company altogether).
Prepare for or respond to unexpected local events that disrupt access to the office.
Improve employee satisfaction by offering it as a company perk.
Your reason for offering remote work may also answer the question of who your remote employees are and how effectively they work in a remote environment.
Ultimately, whether your employees are remote or office-based, you hired them to be productive, contributing members of your team.

3 keys to keeping remote workers productive

There are 3 keys to keeping your employees productive when working, wherever they are working. They need:
The tools and technology to complete their tasks. Typically involve IT-related assets, although employees might appreciate pen and paper too for some tasks.
Access to all necessary documents and files. Employees must be able to access all the files and documents they need to do their jobs. For applications within your company network, this requires virtual private network (VPN) access. Cloud applications bypass this element as they can be reached anywhere someone has an internet connection.
An ability to collaborate with each other. Collaboration tools bring people together across cloud applications, or project specific online tools.
Typically, these applications come with extensive reporting features. One type of reporting, user activity, can reveal how and when your employees engage, offering insight into ways you can support and encourage their productivity.

Boost productivity by understanding how your team collaborates

Collaboration keeps people active and working. Collaboration tools keep people working together.
Sure, many tasks require an individual to get focused and work alone. Before and after, however, the work involves a team. Maybe it moves on for approval. Maybe it’s a presentation. Whatever comes next, work – for both remote and office workers – flows between individual and team efforts.
Fortunately, you have a lot of tools at your disposal to facilitate these tasks. For example:
A cloud document management system centralises documents in what can be described as an electronic file cabinet. Cloud-based, your team can access your documents and participate in pre-determined workflow processes from anywhere.
Interactive white boards (IWBs) and interactive flat panel displays (IFPDs) driven by collaboration software make it possible for teams to engage as if they were together in the same office for brainstorming sessions, presentations, and more.
Collaboration platforms like Microsoft Teams® enable your people wherever they might be to group chat, private chat, call each other, and host video meetings.
Maybe you only need one of these. Maybe you need more. Many companies find a combination provides the full range of tools to stay productive.
All of the technologies above offer reporting on user activity and usage. There are many ways to use the data. One way is to use it to uncover ways to support and encourage your employees – and identify opportunities to help boost productivity.
One tool we use and recommend for collaboration – and which includes great reporting – is Microsoft Teams®.

Reporting in Microsoft Teams®

Microsoft Teams® is a component of Microsoft 365™. It offers call, chat, and video conferencing features. When you create and implement your team, you can get an Exchange™ Online shared mailbox and SharePoint™ Online site and document library to extend its functionality.
A big reporting benefit is how it keeps working even when someone may be offline or struggling with inconsistent internet connectivity.
Microsoft Teams® gives you two activity reports: user activity and device usage.
The User Activity Report tells you how your people use the Teams.
The Device Usage Report shows you the ways your people connect to Teams, such as via desktop or mobile.
With the User Activity Report, you can measure productivity and collaboration. If desired to monitor remote team activity, and within your company’s privacy policy, you can also observe activity by user. The purpose for this data is to empower employees by developing an understanding of engagement to streamline workflows and collaboration.
It’s a whole new world of work. We have been imaging change for over 80 years. Today, that includes helping our customers enable remote work, maintain business continuity and create safe and smart workplaces. Visit Ricoh Change Makers to learn more.