Micro-managing remote workers and how to fix it

Micro-managing remote workers and how to fix it

A married couple kept a mongoose as their pet, and both adored the animal. However, they also had a newborn baby, and the wife occasionally felt uneasy about the mongoose’s presence around the child.

One day, while the wife was out, the mongoose noticed a snake slithering towards the baby and swiftly attacked and killed it.

Feeling satisfied with its heroic act, the mongoose ran out of the house with blood in its mouth. As fate would have it, the wife returned home at that exact moment and saw the mongoose in its bloody state. Without investigating what had happened, the wife assumed the worst and flew into a rage, killing the poor animal.

Only after she entered the house and discovered the dead snake near her baby did she realise the truth of the situation. Sadly, it was too late to undo the damage done to the innocent and loyal creature that had saved their baby’s life.

This is an old tale, but its warning about trust and assumptions is relevant to the modern workplace—to suspect your staff of ‘loafing’ or not fulfilling their obligations is to sow workplace with mistrust which leads to disaster.

Over monitoring, remote working employees is a new, emerging issue that takes some of the gloss off working from home.

The pandemic has transformed how we work, and remote work has become integral to many businesses.

However, with this shift comes a new set of challenges, including the issue of micromanagement. A report from Qatalag and GitLab highlights the negative impact of over-monitoring on employee productivity and morale.

It shows that remote workers waste an extra 67 minutes online daily doing menial tasks to prove to their managers and colleagues that they’re working. Fifty-four per cent of remote workers report feeling pressure to show their online status during the work day.

Managers need to address these issues to ensure the success of remote work.

The emerging consensus, which may change as quickly as flexible working arrangements, is that micro-managing staff because you’re worried they’re watching TV when they should be working is counterproductive and a significant cause of employee dissatisfaction.

Auckland Professor Ananish Chaudhuri writes less than a year ago that increasing productivity monitoring can be demoralising, humiliating, and toxic.

“In studies, others and I have carried out, we find that once compliance costs are subtracted from firm revenue, the resulting returns are much lower than a situation where we repose trust in the workers expecting them to do the right thing. Yes, some would abuse that trust. But studies suggest that they are usually a minority.”

By trusting their employees and providing the necessary resources and support, managers can empower them to work independently and take ownership of their tasks. This approach fosters a culture of accountability and trust, increasing productivity, job satisfaction, and, most importantly, employee retention.

Instead of micromanaging, managers should focus on setting clear expectations and goals for their employees and providing them with the necessary tools and resources to succeed.

Trusting employees to get their work done and allowing them the autonomy to work on their terms can increase productivity and job satisfaction.


Contact Us

Instant Cash for Your Business

Interface is NZ's leading alternative finance source for small and medium sized business. We have over 15 years' experience in NZ with our specialist invoice discounting (spot factoring) service and can turn your debtor invoices into immediate cash to pay your creditors on time. Why wait for your debtors to pay you in 30 to 45 days when you can have cash today?