By Carl Boraman, Commercial Director, Tollring

Managers are familiar with having to monitor and measure staff performance levels, gaps in knowledge, business improvement, staff morale, staff effectiveness and customer experiences. It’s difficult enough when a team is based at a single office location let alone when the team works remotely. The fact that people are no longer in the office does not minimise the need for managerial supervision and the issue of trust needs to be considered.

The common issues facing managers are: Where is my team, are they accountable, are they productive, do they have the right technology to perform their job, do they know how to use it and are they using it effectively and safely without putting the business and themselves at risk? More importantly, are they as remote workers equally effective and productive as office-based workers?

Managers need to be sure that things are getting done.

I appreciate that there are legacy systems to contend with but the latest telecoms monitoring tools can collect and combine data from multiple communications mediums including email, chat, telephony and applications including mobile device management (mdm|) to deliver a single up-to-date view of every smartphone, tablet, laptop, pbx extention and mobile asset, who it’s assigned to, and where they sit in the organisation, making it easy to monitor and manage according to their user profile. It also makes things like leaver/joiner/mover administration much easier because managers can instantly see every resource linked to a person, their line manager, location and cost centre.

Where there is data, it can be added and if a manager brings other expenses into the mix, they can then monitor the total cost of remote operations e.g. fuel cards, conferencing solutions, etc. When expenses are electronically captured, it's easy to turn the resulting data into meaningful business intelligence that can be used to monitor and supervise usage, location and policy making sure the remote worker is optimised, safe and productive.

In mobile working, the overall aim is to build a culture of personal responsibility. Some roles will inherently generate more cost than others and be more difficult to do when working remotely. Managers must be able to set benchmarks so every individual can see their own costs against KPI’s and targets.

For the remote workers, they need to know and appreciate they are more closely scrutinised than their office based colleagues. To encourage personal responsibility, managers can give every employee a central view of their activity, the devices assigned to them and a total cost of everything they use, so they understand their impact on and the value they deliver back to the business. This helps the team to take more care since they know their actions will be counted.

Top Tips when considering workforce mobility

1. Equip line managers with easy to understand information on their remote workforce
2. Create a culture and awareness of continuous usage and policy monitoring
3. Make sure users can see the data that is available to the business so they are more aware and more accountable
4. Make it clear to your remote workers that they also benefit from monitoring not just the business
5. Don’t ban them from the office. Encourage them to come in when colleagues are also in to ensure they understand they are still part of a team and help information sharing and friendships
6. Monitoring is there to protect and help them. Not big brother!
7. Ensure those managers tasked with governance, risk and compliance are equally committed
8. Make sure they can do their jobs even when there is no connectivity or internet access. Off line tools and apps are critical
9. Occasionally identify, highlight and fire warning shots to repeat offenders and make sure everybody knows non-compliance is a serious offence
10. When considering BYOD, just remember; BYOD but not any old device! Think about BWYAT (Buy what you are told) rather than BYOD. Keep the list of approved devices short.
11. Make it work first, then make it good. Then make it great!

In summary, Remote Working can and will be good for all types and size of business there’s no doubt. The key is to keep it simple and adopt a culture of guidance not governance. You will get user error and accidents and prepare for user exploitation — it will happen. Focus on guidance and good practice. And seek proven Cloud based tools to make it happen.