One of the biggest challenges of remote work is finding ways to know if remote employees are actually working. If you’re new to managing a remote team or your output is dropping, this issue is likely at the top of your mind.

The pandemic has made remote work environments the norm. But for many managers, optimizing workflows and creating a healthy work-life balance is an ongoing battle.

In this guide, we’ll cover remote work statistics, signs of remote work burnout, and a method for automating and improving your productivity measurement.

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Remote work statistics you need to know

Remote work can sometimes make us feel disconnected, especially for managers concerned about their team’s productivity. Before you worry too much about your remote team’s productivity, let’s look at some statistics.

86% of the employees surveyed said they would consider their productivity good or excellent. Remote teams are also happier, a statistic that bodes well for work-life balance and overall employee health. 71% of remote team members say they’re satisfied with their job, compared to only 55% of those who work on-site.

"Life doesn't operate in a vacuum and doesn't allow itself to get boxed into a schedule. Remote work enables us to weave our goals around the needs of our loved ones."

Maarten Billemont
iOS Client Architect

A US-based study showed that companies saw a 35% increase in employee performance when teams went remote. 85% of companies confirmed that flexible remote policies improved their overall productivity.

Of course, remote work isn’t perfect. Around 43% of hourly team members admit to committing time theft.

Without time tracking software, remote work prevents managers from knowing when team members clock in and out or how productive they are during the day.

Time tracking software also helps you set a productivity baseline. Consider our 2020 Productivity Benchmarks Report. The average activity rate for all customers in 2019 was 49.6%.

Signs that your remote employees are not working  

If you’re worried about time theft or noticing a decrease in productivity in your remote team, there are some signs that you can watch for.

1. Lower quality of work 

One of the most challenging aspects of managing a remote team is tracking the quality of work. KPIs, financial models, and other metrics are designed to quantify our outputs,  but are they the only way to show if people are doing their job well?

That’s why it can be challenging to spot an employee whose quality of work is slipping. With remote work, it’s easy to go through the motions and meet quotas — but that doesn’t mean employees are doing good work.

If you notice employees working at a rapid pace, making mistakes, or skipping over work altogether, that can signify disengagement from their work.

2. A dip in efficiency 

When a team member or department shows decreased efficiency, it’s also a warning sign to take note of.

This is an excellent time to approach your team and ask if their remote work situation is working for them. Perhaps the team finds that they work better in a noisy, collaborative office setting.

Proof of work tools can help you be a better project manager for your team. If you notice a significant decrease in productivity, monitor these metrics and share the results with your team.

Proof of work features can provide objective measures for evaluation, which can enhance morale and communication.

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3. Chronically late or absent 

Tracking remote employee attendance can be difficult. If a team member is regularly tardy or absent, this is a sign that they are not working well remotely. 

Accidents happen; everyone occasionally sleeps through alarms or misses a call. But if it becomes a regular occurrence, you should be concerned. 

For example, if a team member regularly misses meetings, this should be a red flag. The team member may be feeling disengaged, burned out, or upset with their current role. 

Set clear expectations for your team regarding the work hours you expect them to be online. If you work in a field where punctuality is crucial, onboarding programs should explicitly state these expectations. Learn more about employee attendance policy here.

4. Chronically unresponsive

Team members who are regularly unresponsive to messages from their team are another cause for concern for remote team managers. 

For example, if you call a team member three times during work hours and they do not answer any of those calls, that’s a bad sign. 

Here at Hubstaff, we have a communication manifesto that sets clear expectations for team communication. It states that each team member is expected to respond to Slack messages, emails, and other communications within 24 hours.

Allow room for flexibility in your remote team. If they lose internet connection or have an emergency, they should be able to deal with this issue. 

5. Spending too much time in meetings

On average, team members spend 550 to 750 hours in meetings annually. More than one in three people feel they’ve spent five hours of their week in meetings that don’t accomplish anything.

Spending hours staring into a webcam for pointless video conferences are bad for employee morale and your bottom line.At Hubstaff, we’ve implemented a no-meeting day where team members block off one day a week for deep focus time with no meetings or distractions.

"It's good to see them as goals instead of strict rules. If you have a fire to put out, you will never not have a call just because it's a no-meeting day. Overall, they are a positive experience.” - Sérgio Castro, Front-end Developer, Hubstaff

If your team spends all day on Microsoft Teams or Zoom, they’re wasting critical hours that will likely affect productivity and impact your bottom line. 

To avoid this issue, create internal policies that encourage team members to reduce their time in meetings and only schedule necessary and productive meetings. 

Make sure that your remote team is working with proof of work software 

We’ve been a 100% remote team since 2012, and one way we do that is by using remote work software to track productivity metrics and time. This helps managers spot warning signs like burnout and employee fatigue before they become an issue. For us, tracking tools are all about transparency. Apps like Hubstaff can minimize micromanagement and automate administrative work. Your team members can even manually enter time and leave notes on time entries for additional clarity.

Time and activity report in Hubstaff

Plus, it’s easy to measure and manage remote employee productivity when you can follow projects without micromanaging. Hubstaff uses keystrokes and mouse movements to determine activity rates. Both team members and managers can use this data to increase productivity. 

Proof of work features can create transparency for team members and managers. Employees have access to their productivity reporting and are constantly presented with metrics that showcase how they’re performing in real-time. 

Tracking stops the moment your team member clocks out. This allows your team to create a work-life balance that is healthy and productive.

You can level up your team’s productivity measurement with our Insights add-on. With Hubstaff insights, you can compare activity benchmarks and easily define productive and unproductive URLs and applications.

Hubstaff Insights add on dashboard

Rather than focusing on vanity metrics like Slack availability, you can judge them on how much time they spend working and producing results. 

When managing a remote team, create the proper support channels for them to succeed in a work-from-home environment. Watch for signs of burnout or disengagement. If you see these red flags, step in to set things straight as soon as possible.

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Category: Remote