Woman looks at desktop computer screen and takes notes on a notepad.
Tracking tools don’t have to feel invasive. Used properly, they can benefit remote employees by fostering collaboration and can support your team. — Getty Images/shironosov

As much as we hear about the benefits of remote work, keeping tabs on a remote team can be challenging. Luckily, there are tracking tools that can help business owners easily manage remote employees. These resources can track hours worked, helping you to stay on budget and optimize resources. Plus, many of these tracking tools have the added benefit of ensuring that remote workers are being seen and recognized for their hard work.

Tracking tools can range from collaboration tools with shared changes, to time management tools, project management systems and advanced trackers that monitor keystrokes, locations, and browsing history. Here are some examples.

Collaboration tools

Collaboration tools help remote teams manage their work and keep track of documents, spreadsheets and presentations. For example, Google documents show what changes were made by whom, and when. Asana and Jira are project management tools that track the workflow of tasks from one remote worker to another. Trello is another good option for teams that are trying to keep traffic flowing and track many moving parts.

Some collaboration tools come with built-in time tracking, too. Users of Microsoft 365’s suite of tools can try the Viva Insights module, which launched this year. It provides managers with insights into the amount of time employees spent working outside of normal working hours, the time spent in Microsoft Teams meetings; it even assesses the risk of burnout. Leaders can see a snapshot of organizational resiliency, engagement and agility.

By installing tracking tools and combining them with emotional support and solid remote management techniques, you’ll have a company that does as well, if not better, than before you went remote.

Time management tools

If all you want is a way for employees to clock in and out, tools such as Connecteam allow employees to do so from their devices; it also includes a GPS locator for sales teams working from the field, for instance. HoursTracker is a good option if employees can’t easily record time manually. Other popular options for employees who work at a desk include Timely, Toggl and Toptal’s TopTracker.

[Read more: 8 Employee Time Clock Apps for Remote Workers ]

If you are a company that bills clients for services, a project management tool like TeamWork keeps track of the time spent on each step of a project. It allows teams to alert each other when a task is ready for the next step and has high-level reporting for analyzing capacity planning and budgeting.

At a more advanced level, an employee monitoring system such as InterGuard can log employee activity, record audio and video calls, measure idle versus active time, restrict on website visits and downloads, allow you to take screenshots, and watch email and chats. This is good for any company looking to “trust, but verify” the actions of their remote workforce.

Remote engagement tools

There are some tracking tools that can help employees feel connected and lessen the feeling of isolation that comes from working remotely. Justin Champion, Principal Content Professor at HubSpot Academy, recommends scheduling regular one-on-one chats and supporting employees spontaneously when they are having a bad day. “You don’t have to wait for the scheduled 1:1s. A quick message could work well here.”

Tools like Slack, Teams and Google Hangouts are good options for short check-ins throughout the day. Slack will also show you when someone is online or away, so you can keep an eye on who’s logged in and working and who may be distracted.

[Read more: 4 Practical Ways to Stay Connected to Coworkers While Working Remotely]

All of these suggested tracking tools can help employees stay connected to their managers both in and outside the office. Approaching these tools with the right mindset is the key to a smooth adoption. Tracking tools don’t have to feel invasive. Used properly, they can benefit employees by fostering collaboration as well as identifying areas of difficulty and times of greatest efficiency. By installing tracking tools and combining them with emotional support and solid remote management techniques, you’ll have a company that does as well, if not better, than before you went remote.

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Published November 22, 2021