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Workforce management tools let corporate workers work at home


Working from home used to be a breeze. You would have total control of your time. Bosses did not dictate your minute-by-minute actions. No one was watching over your shoulders. You had the flexibility you needed.

Well, not anymore.

With computer-monitoring programs, employers can now “keep an eye” on their employees and know whether they are working or slacking off. At week’s end, the program can summarize the websites visited by employees and how long. Some track projects and schedule meetings on shared calendars. Others require “virtual face time” via e-mail, instant messaging or calls.

Statistics show that most corporate employees work at home at least one day a month. And that trend is increasing each year.

Raymond Boggs, a vice president at IDC, a market-research firm, said the trend has risen by 23 percent per year since 2007, meaning that approximately 22.8 million people worked from home last year.

Leading the pack are those working for only one or two days a month, which averaged 69.5 percent every year since 2007, to 3.3 million people last year.

Because of that, Gartner Inc., another research consultancy, predicted the use of computer security monitoring programs to rise by 60 percent by 2015.

“The basic challenge for managers is getting trickier,” Mr. Boggs says. “Some may work at home every Friday. Others leave at 3 pm to be with kids coming from school, then work after dinner from home.”

There are various computer-monitoring programs available such as, InterGuard by Awareness Technologies, which is used in the both the financial services and health care sectors. Other than securing sensitive data and complying with government rules, the program is also used to track productivity and employees’ online behavior.

NesterSoft Inc., a maker of WorkTime, help bosses “spot people who need help, as well as those who are wasting time,” says Elena Proskumina, a sales specialist for NesterSoft. One popular report among WorkTime clients is “top Facebook users,” she says.

Employers are aware that those working from home need flexibility to run errands or handle other non-work tasks. SpectorSoft offers a program that tracks time spent on client projects either in the office or at home.

There are many companies that benefit from those working at home like Ryan LLC, a tax-services firm in Dallas. By being results-oriented rather than time-oriented, Delta Emerson of Ryan LLC said, the company has seen “gains in productivity and client satisfaction, and a drop in voluntary employee turnover.”

The strategy is to assign tasks and timelines to each employee. There are means that can be tapped to stay in touch and help bosses track progress such as videoconferencing, shared calendars, regular e-mail and instant messaging.

Do you prefer to work at home or at the office?

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