One of the greatest challenges of remote work is determining how to know if remote employees are working. If you’re new to remote team members or your output is dropping, this issue is likely at the top of your mind.

In this guide on how to know if remote employees are working, 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 remote employee productivity. Before you worry too much about your remote team’s productivity, let’s look at some statistics.

  • Hubstaff data shows remote workers engage in deeper work with fewer interruptions. They spend an average of 4.55 hours in focused work daily compared to 3.72 hours for in-office workers. This results in remote employees experiencing 22% more focus time each week and 18% fewer interruptions annually.
Remote Work = Deep Focus
  • 86% of the remote employees surveyed said they would consider their productivity good or excellent. 
  • Remote employees 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.

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. It’s easy to meet quotas and complete tasks when working remotely, but this doesn’t necessarily indicate that remote employees are producing high-quality work.

If you notice remote employees working too quickly, making frequent mistakes, or neglecting tasks, it may indicate disengagement. Address these issues by providing additional support, clarifying expectations, and fostering a more engaging work environment.

2. A dip in efficiency 

When a team member or department shows decreased efficiency, it presents an opportunity to engage with your team and ensure their remote work setup is optimal. This is a great time to ask if their remote work environment supports their productivity.

Using time tracking software can make you a more effective remote team leader. By monitoring productivity metrics and sharing these insights with your team, you can work together to identify areas for improvement and boost overall efficiency.

Hubstaff Insights activity features and focus time

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3. Chronically late or absent 

Tracking remote employee attendance and work hours can be difficult. If a team member is regularly tardy or absent, this is a sign that they need to work better remotely. 

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

Set clear expectations for your team regarding work hours and when 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 the remote employee attendance policy here.

4. Chronically unresponsive

Remote team managers should also be concerned about team members who are regularly unresponsive to messages from their team. 

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. 

At Hubstaff, we have a communication manifesto that sets clear expectations for team communication. The manifesto states that each team member should respond to Slack messages, emails, and other communications within 24 hours.

Allow room for flexibility in your remote team. If a team member encounters an internet outage or faces an emergency, they should feel empowered to handle the situation effectively.


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 is bad for remote 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.

If your team spends all day on Microsoft Teams or Zoom, they’re wasting critical hours that will likely affect productivity and your bottom line. To avoid this issue, create an internal policy that encourages team members to reduce their time in meetings and only schedule necessary and productive meetings. 

Case study: OneIMS boosts value offered to customers by 30% with Hubstaff

OneIMS, a leading U.S.-based marketing agency, has successfully leveraged Hubstaff to manage its remote team, resulting in significant business improvements. With 100 employees, 50 of whom use Hubstaff, the agency has maintained high productivity and flexibility since 2015.

Embracing remote work

“Remote work has become a core part of the OneIMS brand,” says Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS President and Founder. The shift to remote work during the 2020 pandemic showcased the benefits of flexibility, allowing top staff to work from various locations without compromising productivity. Hubstaff has been pivotal in supporting this transition by enabling OneIMS to scale up or down based on customer budgets and track productivity without constant supervision.

Optimizing hiring and growth

Hubstaff is integral to OneIMS’s hiring and growth strategy. It allows OneIMS to hire globally, ensuring talent can work from anywhere. “We use time tracking for payroll purposes, ensuring people are productive,” says Solomon. This global hiring capability has protected the business from regional disruptions and ensured continuous operations. Hubstaff also creates a baseline understanding of new hires’ capabilities, allowing managers to assess performance without micromanagement.

Streamlined onboarding process

Hubstaff significantly simplifies the onboarding process, allowing new hires to start quickly with minimal setup. “Hubstaff does one full-time person’s job for payroll and onboarding,” Solomon notes. New team members need only an email, chat, and Hubstaff account to contribute effectively. This efficiency translates to faster integration and reduced administrative overhead.

Enhancing remote employee performance and client value

Long-term remote employees benefit from clear performance metrics provided by Hubstaff, which helps managers identify top performers for promotions. The platform also allows OneIMS to deliver greater client value by ensuring efficient use of time and resources. “Hubstaff easily adds 30% to the value my customers receive,” Solomon says, by reducing managerial layers and administrative burdens. This efficiency means more budget can be allocated to problem-solving rather than personnel management.

Future growth

Looking ahead, OneIMS plans to incorporate AI capabilities to stay ahead in the competitive marketing landscape. Hubstaff remains a crucial tool in this journey, supporting OneIMS’s mission to deliver high-quality work with strong returns.

Trust and transparency with Hubstaff

At Hubstaff, we aim to empower organizations to achieve their most productive workday, prioritizing employee privacy, work-life balance, and autonomy.

Transparency

Hubstaff offers workforce analytics, workforce management, and payroll solutions. We provide transparency with insights into start and stop times, apps and URLs used, and real-time activity data. Users control their data, which is never sold to third parties.

Hubstaff tips:

  • Regularly review activity data to ensure alignment with project goals.
  • Communicate openly about what is being tracked and why to build trust.

Access

Tracking time with Hubstaff is straightforward. Users get notifications when they start and stop their timers, go idle, or screenshots are taken. The dashboard allows end users to see the same information as their managers, ensuring peace of mind.

Hubstaff tips:

  • Use notifications to remind team members to stay on task.
  • Share dashboard insights during team meetings to keep everyone informed.

Control

Our software helps companies work smarter without compromising privacy. We emphasize measuring outputs over activity metrics, focusing on producing high-quality work. Hubstaff allows customization to suit company preferences, ensuring productivity without micromanagement.

Hubstaff tips:

  • Customize tracking settings to balance privacy and productivity.
  • Focus on outcomes and deliverables rather than time spent on tasks.

Strategic insights

Identify performance bottlenecks with data-driven insights. Track time, manage app and URL usage, and view screenshots, which are ideal for remote or distributed teams. Manage your team with customizable permissions, balancing privacy and productivity.

Hubstaff tips:

  • Use data insights to identify and address productivity issues early.
  • Customize permissions to protect sensitive information while monitoring essential metrics.

Ensure your remote employees thrive and stay productive with Hubstaff

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, time tracking tools are all about transparency. Apps like Hubstaff can minimize micromanagement and automate administrative work.

Time and activity report in Hubstaff

Plus, it’s easy to measure and manage remote employee productivity by following projects without micromanaging. Employees can access their productivity Insights, allowing them to see their performance in real-time. 

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

Enhance productivity measurement for your remote employees with our Hubstaff Insights add-on. With Hubstaff Insights, you can compare activity benchmarks, catch Unusual Activity, and effortlessly categorize productive and unproductive URLs and applications.

Hubstaff Insights add on dashboard

Instead of relying on vanity metrics like Slack availability to determine how to know if remote employees are working, you can evaluate them based on the time they spend working and the results they produce.

Boost your remote employees’ productivity with our Hubstaff Insights add-on. Hubstaff Insights allows you to compare activity benchmarks and easily identify productive and unproductive URLs and applications, helping your team achieve their best work.

FAQs

How to check if remote workers are working?

  • Track remote employee time and productivity: Use tools like Hubstaff to automatically log work hours, monitor activity levels, and identify idle time. This helps you see who’s on task and who may need assistance.
  • Set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) or Objectives and Key Results (OKRs): Establish clear, measurable goals to objectively assess employee performance. KPIs provide insights into individual contributions and overall productivity.
  • Host Daily Standups: Conduct brief, 15-minute check-ins via Zoom or similar tools to maintain accountability and keep the team connected.

These strategies will help you effectively monitor remote employees and ensure they remain productive.

How do you deal with underperforming remote employees?

  1. Define expectations: Clearly communicate roles, goals, and deadlines with remote employees to ensure understanding.
  2. Regular check-ins: Schedule weekly video calls to discuss progress and provide feedback.
  3. Recognize good performance: Balance criticism with positive feedback to boost morale.
  4. Provide support: Offer necessary tools, training, and resources to help remote employees perform better.
  5. Collaborate on solutions: Identify the root cause of underperformance and create an improvement plan together.
  6. Monitor and adjust: Continuously track progress, provide feedback, and adjust plans as needed.

This approach helps address issues and supports remote employees in improving their performance.

How to address an employee not working?

  1. Private meeting: Arrange a one-on-one to discuss performance concerns discreetly.
  2. Present observations: Share specific examples of underperformance factually and objectively.
  3. Listen actively: Understand any challenges the remote employee might be facing.
  4. Reiterate expectations: Clearly state job responsibilities and performance standards.
  5. Offer support: Provide necessary training, tools, or adjustments to help improve performance.
  6. Create an improvement plan: Develop a clear, actionable plan with specific goals and timelines.
  7. Regular follow-ups: Schedule consistent check-ins to review progress and provide feedback.

This structured approach ensures clear communication and effective support for performance improvement.


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Category: Remote