In a world adapting to remote working, employee tracking as a concept has almost fully embedded itself in the mainstream.

This has, it’s safe to say, produced mixed results. While some companies have fully embraced workday tracking, many employees have resisted attempts from employers to ‘invade their privacy’ citing genuine concerns that overbearing tracking actually has a negative impact on their overall productivity. 

Whether or not it’s right for your company is a question only you and your upper management colleagues can answer. However, there are some clear benefits to monitoring employee actions and performance that companies across all industries should at least consider. Here are just a few ways tracking tools can communicate employee behaviours. 

The different ways businesses can track employees

Before we begin, it’s worth looking at some of the many ways businesses can track their employees for more insight into their behaviours:

  • Time and screen tracking: Intrusive or essential? Monitoring your employees through time and screen tracking tools offers a comprehensive view of exactly what they’re up to throughout the day, often collated into easy-to-read data by the software. This is particularly important for agencies and small businesses looking to maximize their output. 
  • Telematics: One for the transport business owners out there. Telematics tools aren’t just a comms link between your office team and drivers, they also highlight speed bumps halting workflow across your business by monitoring performance, such as poor delivery routes and vehicle conditions. 
  • Office check-In tools: Whether it’s keycards or (if you’re particularly secure) retina scans, building check-in methods are a good way to keep track of exactly when your employees are and aren’t working. Integrating these systems with employee attendance software can give you a greater overview of who is working to their capabilities and when your office is most active throughout the week. 
  • Mobile attendance: An extreme and controversial measure, but one that stops employees from wasting time when out of the office. Connected to the GPS in their smartphones, these tools track employee movement and productivity, ensuring out-of-town business meetings don’t turn into holidays. Not for every company, that’s for sure.  

Time misuse and poor organization become obvious 

There’s a lot of truth in the old phrase “time is money”. For some companies, time is literally the only commodity they have to sell. Time to use their expertise on projects, advise clients and offer themselves on call 24 hours a day. 

That’s why solving the problem of time theft, whether it’s being committed on purpose or inadvertently, it’s imperative. Especially for agencies and companies that specialize in training. 

Time thieves cost your business money and set back productivity on key projects by weeks. By adopting time and screen tracking tools you quickly get an overview of which team members are pulling their weight and which aren’t. It might be the case that there are some teething problems with your tracking software you need to iron out, but within a few weeks, you should have a clear picture of how your business hours are being utilized. 

In much less negative terms, time and productivity tracking tools can help your business become more efficient and organized. If how your business uses its time is crucial to what you do, collecting this data is a sensible starting point. 

Tracking highlights pain points within the business

Every business has problems. Even the biggest corporations and most well-run NGOs have weaknesses. Cogs in the machine that slows down the process for their colleagues and customers. 

The problem is when these weaknesses start to infect the rest of the business. Fortunately, tracking tools can communicate what these are and allow for some thorough self-analysis of how your company works. 

If you’ve got a nagging feeling your company could be more streamlined, the data collected from time and activity tracking could offer the insight you’ve been looking for. It highlights the exact points in your processes where productivity starts to slow down or collaborations that aren’t necessarily the right fit converge. 

Tracking allows you to look at collaborations from an entirely different point of view. Are some team members spending far too much time in meetings and seeing their workload pile up as a result? Maybe there’s a particular kind of customer service query taking up their time that could be solved through some on-site content? These might be issues they’re nervous to approach a manager about, even if it’s causing them stress and confusion about their role. Now you can help your employees just as they help you. 

Improves analysis of employee strengths and weaknesses 

There’s a cloud of negativity around tracking tools, but there are plenty of positives about them too! They’re an excellent way to upskill your employees, providing insights that a traditional performance review never could. 

People aren’t machines, so data about their workday can only tell you so much. But when used alongside one-to-one feedback and everyday observation, it can quickly paint a picture of where their strengths and weaknesses lie. This could highlight areas of the business where their talents might be better utilized. 

Say, for example, you have an employee who spends twice as long writing reports as their direct colleagues but has shown sparks of social media creativity. You could use this data as a starting point when discussing a potential role change and find a place in the business that suits their talents and interests, all while strengthening key points within the company that might be struggling. Alternatively, it could highlight the need for a system change. 

Tracking also provides a greater picture of what your business does and doesn’t do well. Is the data highlighting a potential failing across the board? Maybe a new hire could fill that gap. Tracking is about so much more than where particular employees are making mistakes and skipping work while working remotely, it’s about key insight into the strengths and weaknesses of your company. 

The decision to track your employee’s performance is a difficult one to make. Ideally, it should be made in collaboration with your employees, to avoid a breakdown in trust and retain morale (especially as we look to return to the office full time). 

If handled sensitively, this process can be incredibly insightful and enlightening for your upper management, allowing them to implement new measures to improve productivity, colleague collaboration, and appreciation for the work everyone does for the business.

By James Suffolk

James Suffolk is a Marketing Associate at Compare the Cloud and Disruptive Live. He is also a young writer with aspirations of going to the very top one day. James loves writing about technology, the cloud, cybersecurity, and all things related to tech.

Read more from James Suffolk