In this age of fluctuating gas prices, nightly traffic jams and long commutes, more workers and employers are turning to the benefits of telecommuting to conduct their daily business. Telecommuters say they enjoy the freedom, creative and otherwise, of working from home or a remote office location. Meanwhile, cost-cutting opportunities for employers, in the way of reduced electricity bills and the like, make telecommuting a win-win situation.
Employers with workers in more ‘traditional’ office settings have often become concerned their employees may be slacking off, taking many unnecessary breaks, or otherwise not remaining on task throughout the work day. Thankfully, today’s telecommuting environment offers many methods to ensure employees working at home or from a remote office location are making productive use of their time, and remaining efficient through each hour you are paying them.
Virtual Monitors Help Track Worker Productivity
Virtual monitoring is a process by which you can track your telecommuters’ productivity and ability to stay on task with any given project, without having to rely on daily or weekly meetings and assessments. This can be achieved by the use of a variety of tools currently available to those who employ remote workers. Depending on just how ‘intrusive’ you want to be, here are some ways to make sure your employees aren’t just surfing the internet:
- Block selected Internet sites and limit access to other sites
- Monitor websites visited and how long telecommuters are on certain sites
- Collect computer screenshots for ‘real-time’ updates on project status
- Use keystroke monitoring software like Spectorsoft® to monitor productivity and words being typed
- Establish break schedules using software like Kronos®
- View call reports & listen to call recordings with a Press8 Telecom VoIP hosted PBX
Tools for a Virtual Office
1) A VoIP hosted PBX is a powerful phone system and allows for easy monitoring of telecommuters and to ensure telecommuters’ are being productive throughout the day. Using VoIP technology, employers can assign office phone number extensions to remote workers.
Call Reporting: This allows employers to monitor specific call data, including the sources of business calls, length of call, time of day, and more using Call Reporting.
Call Recording: Call Recording is another way that a manager sure that their telecommuters are handling customer calls the way they should be. (For training purposes).
SoftPhone: With a Softphone (phone that runs on your computer) employees can take calls while traveling using their laptop.
Smartphone App: Telecommuters can make calls using their smartphone that shows the caller id of their office phone. Calls can even be transferred between employees no matter where they are located. And, since these phone calls are routed through the companies phone system, they appear on call reports, and can be recorded for training purposes.
Find Me/Follow Me: Will ring a telecommuters office phone, smartphone & softphone then go to voicemail which can be transcribed so that employees can always be contacted.
A small business phone system also allows employers to retain a consistent business model, no matter where telecommuters are working from. Customers will not be aware they are calling an employee in a remote location and not the company’s main office.
2) GoToMyPC®: for remote access to corporate networks and databases
3) Netilla Virtual Office®: for access to network applications via web access
4) Connected TLM®: for data backup
5) Salesforce.com or ZohoCRM to keep track of sales leads and accounts
6) Anti-Virus programs such as McAfee®, Webroot® AntiVirus, etc.
7) WebEx™: for video conferencing
8) Smartphones (iPhone or Android): for remote and out-of-office Internet and e-mail access
9) Instant Messaging services such as Skype
10) Outlook or Google Calendar for shared calendars
11) Dropbox for file sharing
Learn more about the easy and efficient next steps to take your company to the next level, and join the virtual office trend.