Time Theft and the Remote Employee

Time Theft and the Remote Employee 2560 1905 Balance Point Team

Right now, an on-the-clock employee is streaming their favorite Netflix show. Another is working out. And another is taking a nap.

All employees do it. Even top performing ones are guilty of time theft from time to time.

One recent study found that the average employee steals approximately 4.5 hours per week from their employer, totaling nearly six full work weeks per year.

Time theft, when an employee accepts pay for work and time that they didn’t work, is easy to identify when employees are present on the worksite. Mindless scrolling of social feeds, socializing with coworkers, and taking longer-than-allowed breaks are visible signs a worker has mentally checked out.

However, when it comes to remote workers, it’s not as easy to see. Unless you are part of the 25% of companies that recently purchased new technology to monitor your employees, keeping tabs on employees who work from home is a challenge.

Working Hard vs. Hardly Working

Just because your employees are sitting in front of their laptops, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are working effectively. In fact, work breaks help your brain and boost productivity and creativity.

But how much downtime is acceptable? Followers of the 52/17 Rule, work intently for 52 minutes, then take a break for 17 for optimal productivity. This popular hack is proven effective in the workplace.

Studies show that employees who take frequent breaks are more productive than those who don’t. If that’s true, then employees only need to actively work for 5 ½ hours of an 8-hour workday.

Time theft becomes a problem when it impacts productivity. So how do you know when your remote employee is taking advantage of the situation? There are signs to look out for.

  • The employee isn’t responsive to calls and emails
  • The employee is late with assignments, or their work is sub-par
  • You’ve been receiving complaints about the employee’s performance from clients and colleagues

Avoiding Time Theft 

Fortunately, there are ways to deter time theft among your remote team. Here’s how.

Prevent it

Create an environment of accountability to thwart off time theft. Keep your remote employees engaged by building a sense of community, providing ample feedback and recognition, and investing in their development. Let them know that out of sight doesn’t mean out of mind.

Establish a policy

All workforces that accommodate remote work should have a formal work-from-home policy. In addition to legal rights and security protocols, the policy should clearly communicate expectations for employee availability and responsiveness, along with methods used for measuring productivity. The policy should be included in your employee handbook.

Download our Work From Home Policy Checklist

Utilize time and labor management software

Integrated time and attendance software makes it difficult for employees to steal time. With Balance Point’s solution, you can track and monitor your employees’ meals, breaks, and overtime, calculate and manage comp time, set up geofencing to track employee locations when they clock in and out, monitor errors, and manage other time policies for complete and accurate timecards.

If you need help crafting a remote work policy or could benefit from time and attendance software, schedule a consultation today.

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