The transition to working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a big adjustment for a lot of businesses. Many employers have never managed remote employees and many employees have never experienced working from a remote location.

As an employer, do you trust your employees to get their work done when you’re not around to check up on them? How can you ensure they are being productive when you’re not physically there?

There are some people who believe the only way to ensure employees are actually working at home is with specialized software to track their computer usage – software that tracks keystrokes and what sites are being visited. Gregory Garrabrants, CEO of Axos Financial Inc., told Bloomberg: “We have seen individuals taking unfair advantage of flexible work arrangements by essentially taking vacations.”  The article goes on to explain that keeping an eye on employees is legal as long as employers notify the employees. The leadership team at Axos Financial Inc. has implemented a program named InterGuard. “Managers using InterGuard’s software can be notified if an employee does a combination of worrisome behaviors, such as printing both a confidential client list and a resume, an indication that someone is quitting and taking their book of business with them.” A spokesperson for the company compares it to using security cameras in a bank. Courtney Cavey, the firm’s chief marketing officer says that as an employee she likes having the software, stating, “My personal advice is to use it as an advantage, as a way to prove to your manager that you’re capable of working autonomously.”

If you choose to use software to keep tabs on your employees, make sure you do it in a way that doesn’t make it seem like you don’t trust them. Focus more on its use as a precautionary measure and a way to help everyone adjust to a new way of working.

Another method for keeping employees accountable is constant communication. The US Chamber of Commerce provides six ways employers can help their teams be more productive in this article, including establishing daily check-ins. Sean Ludwig writes, “A morning check-in via video chat, phone call or instant message can create a sense of normalcy. These check-ins can be one-on-one or held among small groups.”

Making sure your employees know you are still there for them is vital during this work from home transition. It is important to be very clear and straightforward in communications to ensure expectations are understood by everyone. Give your workers deadlines for projects and don’t be lenient when it comes to meeting the deadline.

Harvard Business Review published an article providing tips to help employers manage their new remote work staff. Among their tips was establishing “rules of engagement.” Associates at HBR gave an example of this practice: “We use videoconferencing for daily check-in meetings, but we use IM when something is urgent.” Setting these rules early on will help you and your employees get settled into the new work routine.

For additional tips to set up your employees for success while working from home, check out this recent blog.

For more employer tips and information on the status of the COVID-19 pandemic, visit the Apex COVID-19 resource page here.