As we continue on our long, lonely, quarantine, many organizations find themselves dealing with how to manage employees who are working from their own homes instead of the office.
Naturally, this brings with it some challenges, that require some managerial skill to navigate. Or, maybe not.
Maybe you could just make everyone stay logged into a video call all day, or install software that snaps a webcam photo every few minutes to make sure they are “working” as this Techdirt article describes.
First off, the obvious problem with this is that you are now basically in the monitoring business. Management is no longer busy setting strategy or developing talent, they are glorified electronic babysitters.
Is that really what your want you managers doing all day?
Secondly, by grabbing webcam images or video all day long, you are now invading people’s private spaces. That background is their home, and while some of us are lucky to have an office space dedicated to work, quite a lot of your new WFH folks probably don’t, so you’re capturing their family activities in these images. And, frankly, if your employee is up from their computer monitor to take care of their toddler for 5 minutes, well, remember that toddler is more important than you are, deal with it.
That’s not to say there aren’t some reasons to keep an eye on what remote workers are doing, they are being targeted by hackers and phishers, and there are business reasons to keep an eye on productivity. I’m just asking you to stop and think about what you’re doing during this time. If the only measurement you had for who was working hard and who wasn’t was to look out at your open office floor and see who was sitting at a computer, this level of surveillance might seem like a good idea. You might also be an idiot if you think time spent at a desk is the ultimate sign of good employees instead of, you know, measuring the effectiveness of their work by looking at the actual work they get done.
We are all dealing with a lot at the moment. People who have never worked from home, are making massive adjustments to their lives to account for having their families home all day and trying to work. You can either understand that, or you can turn up the pressure by spying on them all day to make sure you’re still getting your 8 hours.
Your employees will remember how you handled this, and if you do everything in your power to make sure you still get your eight hours out of them, don’t be surprised when this is all over when that is all you get out of them, until they leave. We don’t get engaged, passionate, employees by having zero trust in them and monitoring them all day long. We get the automatons we deserve, while our competitors gobble up the smart, flexible talent needed to move ahead.
Good luck with that.
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