The average workplace today consists of not just onsite staff, but oftentimes many branches from which the work for every aspect of the business gets done.
Many companies have migrated to virtual office situations employing staff from all over the world. Others have even adopted telecommuting for local employees. Yet more are relying on outsourcing and independent contractors and freelancers to cover technical issues, content creation and a host of other tasks that expand the reach of the organization even further.
But with so many people filling so may roles, how does a responsible business make sure it is getting the most out of its employees and contractors? How does a reputable company ensure productivity when their sales department is in Tucson, billing is in Canada and Internet content creation team is in Manila? Here are a few ways to ensure that the job gets done and protect your payroll account from over-billing by under-productive staff.
Yes, it is a controversial issue. No one likes the idea that Big Brother is watching them. There is no simple solution to this problem, but there is a right way and a wrong way to go about monitoring employee activity online.
The first, best line of defense is to have clearly-worded and consistently-implemented policy regarding who is going to do what online during the workday or during billable hours. Once that has been established, a system of checks and balances will help ensure that those policies are followed.
Everything your employees and contractors do on company time utilizing company resources matters. Frivolous Web surfing can eat into productivity considerably. Not all employees exercise the best discretion when surfing the Net at work, either, which can open up a business to various degrees of liability. Beyond that, unabated access to the Web opens up your company’s network to intrusions like viruses and malware.
To ensure against these kinds of negatives, the network needs to be protected and employees need to know they are being watched. It isn’t a matter of trust, it is a matter of survival. Your business needs people who are focused, productive and understand the concept of boundaries. Social media can wait unless being on those sites is necessary for your employees and contractors to do their jobs – personal business on personal time.
There are plenty of options to choose from in this space, including a product from EfficientLab that fits the bill.
Time Tracking and Billing Solutions
These are especially important when dealing with offsite personnel, independent contractors and freelancers. If a company is paying a contractor for x hours per week, those hours need to be productive and the contractor needs to be able to account for the time. It is entirely reasonable to expect contractors and freelancers to install monitoring software on their computers that accounts for time spent on company-related activities and sends those reports directly to the company for review.
At the same time, it is important not to make the process of getting paid too difficult for the contractor. Freelancing is a revolving door and keeping the average independent contractor happy will ensure better quality and consistency of work. The best way to ensure your freelancers keep working hard is to make it easy for them to report hours and send invoices. It is a simple thing, but it has a huge impact on that aspect of your business.
There are a number of subscription-based online solutions that help keep the organization running smoothly, especially in diverse “virtual office” environments. There are a number of solutions that allow management to delegate responsibility and assign tasks, but also allow for employees to report on progress at proscribed intervals. Being able to establish and maintain that kind of communication keeps workflow productive even when your organization is spread between continents instead of cubicles.