Monitoring employees away from the office

Written by Nigel Simpkins

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way we work, with remote working or flexible working now being more common than ever. In most cases, allowing employees to work from home some or all of the time works well, with remote employees as productive as their office counterparts, while also allowing them to improve their work/life balance. However, it is trickier to monitor employees when they are not on the premises, meaning that loss of productivity may not be spotted so quickly. It is also harder to check on your employees’ wellbeing, so some may be struggling without support.

Keep in touch

Good communication is key to monitoring and supporting your employees when they are working remotely. It is a good idea to set up regular communication, so both employer and employee know the expectations rather than wait until problems arise. Modern communication technology has made it easier than ever to keep in touch, with email, phone, video calls and an array of messaging and cloud services all being good options. Regular communication means that the employee is kept in the loop and when all is well, it may need nothing more than a progress update and feedback. However, if there are problems, regular communication can nip these in the bud before they become a serious issue. If problems do arise, make sure your employee knows who to contact, so they are not left to struggle alone.

Substance abuse

Poor mental health increases the risk of drug and alcohol abuse. When employees are in the workplace, it is easier to spot the signs. However, remote workers do not have the safety net of regular contact with close colleagues, so the signs may go unnoticed until they become a serious problem for their productivity and/or their physical and mental health. Matrix Diagnostics can offer workplace testing for drugs and alcohol. As well as providing the analysis and lab report on any findings, they also offer advice on policies and programs to help you effectively manage these issues.


While many employees find they gain a better work/life balance when working from home, they do also often report that they miss the social interactions of the workplace. Loneliness and feeling isolated can increase the risk of mental health problems, so it is important to take steps to prevent this. As well as communicating work progress, it is also a good idea to build in some virtual social and teambuilding events. Video calls can also be used to allow remote workers to be ‘present’ at meetings or to allow employees to work together, providing further opportunities to monitor how they work.

Workplaces can also facilitate social interaction, so include your remote employees in any social events, as well as any special work events and team building days. Providing some opportunities to still physically see your employees will help counter the loneliness and also give the employer the opportunity to check on their wellbeing.

By taking simple steps to boost employees’ mental wellbeing, you will also be helping them feel positive about their work and keeping them in a frame of mind that is likely to be more productive.