For previous generations “going to work” was a pretty straightforward exercise – they left home, commuted for a while, walked through the front door, punched in, did their 9 hours, punched out, returned home, and repeated the whole process the following day.

Day in, day out, for fifty odd years. The internet, and the ability for knowledge workers to perform their duties from practically anywhere, have completely changed this paradigm. In fact some of the world’s most successful organizations no longer require employees to come to work at all.

“…Automattic employs 230 people. We’re located in 170 cities all over the world…most of our employees work somewhere other than our home base. Some are even nomads, traveling from place to place…” Matt Mullenweg

Coming from the CEO of Automattic – the guy who invented the WordPress platform which powers twenty three percent of the internet – that’s pretty powerful affirmation “Work” isn’t what it used to be…

Executive Summary

  • In the context of knowledge based professions knowing when an employee has arrived and when they have left is a poor measurement for performance.
  • Businesses that are agnostic to employee’s physical location stand to gain significant operational advantages.
  • High performing employees may lose out in favor of those with extroverted personalities, to the detriment of the business.
  • Fairness in treatment and opportunities is key to a happier workforce.
  • Enabling employees to self-regulate their performance reduces workplace confrontations.
  • Monitoring drives excellence – for the benefit of all.

When it Comes to Attendance, Flexible = Smart

Being smart about attendance grants employers a variety of benefits:

  • Off-site employees allow for a reduction in office space requirements and operational savings.
  • Flexibility with attendance is perceived as major workplace perk – It’s an excellent strategy for luring top talent. In many cases employees are willing to work for lower salaries, as long as their hours are flexible.
  • Flexibility with attendance allows hiring employees who couldn’t work otherwise at all, thus increasing HR’s pool of potential talent. A prime example being parents (usually mothers) of young children.

Caution Though…

All this flexibility does come at a cost – It has the potential of becoming a massive headache for management, and when run ineffectively can lead to reduced productivity and wastage. Matt Mullenweg’s rosy view of telecommuting is quite extreme even in Silicon Valley. Yahoo CEO Marrisa Mayer famously killed the company’s longstanding and popular work-from-home-policy soon after assuming her role, claiming: “It’s not what’s right for Yahoo right now… It was wrongly perceived as an industry narrative.” Best Buy, emboldened by Mayer’s move, followed suit by cancelling their own flexible work policy soon after.

Automated Attendance Monitoring – The Secret Sauce for Remote Workers’ Success?

So why is it that what works so well for Automattic failed Yahoo and Best Buy? The answer is of course complex and composed of a multitude of factors. Size and culture certainly play a part, but the details of “How” are critical as well, and in that respect Employee Monitoring Software can make a huge difference. One of the key features driving the success of outsourcing platform (formerly odesk) is an excellent desktop-client that allows employers to see precisely what their outsourced employees are doing at any given moment in time. Employee Monitoring Software is effective at replacing traditional attendance monitoring solutions because it goes far beyond simply measuring when an employee arrives and leaves. Robust employee monitoring solutions provide deep insights that measure not only when employees start their WORK sessions, but also precisely WHAT is being done while they’re at their consoles. Mullenweg’s insight in this respect is again right on target:

“…If someone shows up in the morning dressed appropriately and isn’t drunk or asleep at his desk, we assume he’s working. If he’s making spreadsheets and to-do lists, we assume he’s working really hard. Unfortunately, none of this gets at what an employee actually creates during the day…”

Obviously from an employer’s perspective having a QUALITATIVE assessment of an employee’s working day is far more valuable than a simple confirmation that they showed up in the morning and left in the evening. But what does the picture look like from the employee’s’ perspective? Interestingly, there’s good news here as well…

Automated Attendance Monitoring – What’s in it for Employees?

Employee monitoring is one of those rare finds – it’s a true win-win for both employers and employees. We’ve covered some of the benefits employers stand to gain, now it’s time to look at what’s in it for employees:

Maintaining Fairness = Maintaining Happiness

In a previous post we tackled the issue of breaks, and the astounding fact that on average in a given year a smoking employee will accumulate an entire extra week of break time over his non-smoking colleagues. That’s far from being fair, and a quick browse online quickly reveals that there are many working folks out there who take issue with it. But the question of fairness isn’t only relevant to the amount of time employees spend at their desks. There are other issues which are less obvious but can potentially be far more important.

Keeping Things Fair for the Quiet Types

A workplace is primarily a community of people, and as with any community there are those who are more charismatic and extroverted, and those who tend to be less so. The challenge therein is that in many cases stellar employees who happen to be less apt at self-promotion tend to be passed over for much deserved promotion and recognition, while charismatic employees, with a gift for gab, are often able to angle for perks and opportunities they don’t necessarily deserve. When this happen on a regular basis it eventually leads these quiet performers to seek alternative employment – creating a huge and costly loss for the organization. Employee Monitoring Software is a silent equalizer that operates in the background and ensures every employee is measured and treated according to the PERFORMANCE and not their personality – obviously this is invaluable for any organization.

Self-Regulation Replaces Confrontation

One hopes employees in general and in knowledge based businesses especially are essentially responsible and motivated individuals who, given a chance, would prefer to perform. The reality is that EVERYONE HAS BAD DAYS, and even though we might not feel it, there can be little doubt that when we’re having a rough spell our productivity is impacted. The traditional model for managing an underperforming employee is essentially limited to “having a chat”. In many ways this is fundamentally flawed – Now not only does the poor employee have their original trouble to worry about, they have management and HR on their case as well. Automated Attendance and Employee Monitoring Software completely alter this miserable flow by empowering employees to self-regulate. The monitoring platform sends out weekly reports to all employees regarding their individual productivity – when a responsible employee sees a dip in their performance they’re bound to make an effort to improve without management or HR ever having to step into the process. No confrontation, no angst, no problem!

Personal Excellence = Personal Pride

Assuming as before that given the opportunity a responsible employee would rather be motivated to excel another advantage of Employee Monitoring Software quickly becomes evident. As we related in a previous post, the Hawthorne effect is the documented psychological phenomenon wherein simply knowing that one is being observed drives one to improved performance. In other words – simply by virtue of monitoring employees, you can motivate them to make the most of themselves. One might argue this is an employer’s benefit. The question is does that matter? To our mind it’s simply validation that EMPLOYEE MONITORING IS A WORKPLACE WIN-WIN! Visit the Digital Endpoint website for more information.