Workpuls Review – a monitoring tool tailored for remote work
Why use a monitoring tool like Workpuls?
Nearly every survey of remote working shows increases in productivity. ConnectSolutions Survey indicated 77% of employees were more productive working remotely, with 23% putting in longer hours than they would have in the office. JD Edwards and American Express found their remote workers to be 25% and 43% more productive than their office-based counterparts and Compaq, Best Buy, British Telecom, and Dow Chemical all indicated remote workers to be up to 45% more productive.
So is there any point to monitoring tools when remote work is so much more productive anyway?
There’s a strong case that says no! The clear and obvious way to measure an employee’s productivity is by measuring what they deliver. How many keys they hit and what websites they look at is surely irrelevant and potentially misleading. In addition, some roles such as Marketing and Sales might involve more time talking to clients and travelling than working on a computer.
One of the big positives for employees for remote work is flexibility. Knowing employers are monitoring their every move starts to erode how free they feel to work when and how they want. To make this even worse once these tools are in place employees start to feel that their employer doesn’t trust them. Monitoring tools can be a prop for poor and lazy management and risk souring the relationship between employer and employees to the extent that the productivity gains from remote work described above are lost.
Having said all of that, there are a number of strong positives for monitoring tools if they’re used correctly and sensitively:
Productivity improvement. Just like a staff survey where you want understand the views of groups of people but not individuals, these tools can be used to monitor the performance of groups without drilling down to individual performance. This allows to you make industry comparisons and can provide a catalyst for improvements in productivity.
Time capture. Most tools allow simple time capture and task management. If you’re a service company that charges time to clients or want to apportion time used by shared functions like IT then this may be useful to you.
Use of tools. Many of these packages allow you to monitor which software tools and websites are used most commonly. This may reveal a number of issues like needing to provide training for tools that are used more than you thought or to save license fees for ones that are used a whole lot less than you thought.
Induction of new employees. This is always trickier in a remote environment. Monitoring tools can be useful to monitor the individual performance of new employees and more easily work out that someone is struggling. This can help plug holes in induction programs, training supervision and processes as well as helping the individuals concerned.
Close monitoring of employees where sensitive medical, security or financial transactions are being carried out. Some tools record actions, capture keystrokes and video of screen shots for this situation. I’d stress you need to treat this with caution and use it as an exception for a small number of people in highly sensitive or risky situations and as a protection to all parties to ensure no-one is suspected of fraud or misuse of data.
The main thing is that if you’re going to use one of these tools, you need to be open and honest that you’re using it, be clear what you’re going to use it for and what you’re not. Be as open as possible to employee scrutiny of how you’re using the tool and the data it produces.
Workpuls is one of our favourite monitoring tools.
It’s keenly priced, provides time capture and simple task management, tracking of what web pages and packages are being used and the ability to measure the productivity of teams and individuals. It also allows keystrokes to be monitored in conjunction with taking periodic screenshots so that close monitoring can be carried out.
An excellent feature of Workpuls is that employees can monitor their own activities. This distinguishes it from many other packages in the market and reinforces the ‘be open’ message that we’ve talked about above.
The application also allows employees to suspend monitoring in periods where they want to do something else with their time, for example pick the kids up from school or go to a fitness class. This incorporates and sanctions the principle of flexible working in a very transparent and encouraging way. We really like this. You can also set it up to support monitoring for a hybrid model of remote working where employees split their time between home and office and measure the differences in productivity between the two. This can help you devise strategies for your approach to remote work and determine which groups it works most effectively for.
Workpuls has thought through the definition of unproductive time and has options to allow you to account for employees whose job involves productive activities away from their computer.
Reporting can be both real time, to see what employees are doing minute to minute and in batch over defined time periods or you can download the data for analysis by your preferred Business Intelligence tool if that’s what you want.
Prices start at $4.80 per employee per month for employee monitoring, $6.40 to include time sheets and task management and $12 including automated time tracking.
Workpuls has options for on-premise or cloud based solutions.
Within the limitations that we recommend above, we really like Workpuls particularly as it is tailored to support flexible working and allows an employee to look at their own data. However to stress the point again, these packages need to be used carefully if you don’t want to shatter the bond of trust between employee and employer.
Enjoyed our Workpuls review? If so you can sign up for a free trial of Workpuls here.
A rather too salesy and long winded video from Workpuls, but it does give you a feel for how it works: