I’m usually a punctual guy, in fact I pride myself on it. Since I was young, I have always focused on ensuring that I am on time as much as possible. I view punctuality as a form of respect and courtesy. When I meet with someone and they are on time, it shows me that they respect that my time and theirs is valuable. It shows me they are usually serious about what our meeting is trying to achieve.
Having said that, I am not an inflexible clock watcher just waiting for the first slip before it spoils my day. Sometimes, things happen and people are late. It’s understandable.
But what should you do when your virtual staff are tardy? And what should you do when it is getting worse?
Working in the digital World, trust is vital element of the working relationship. You have to be able to trust that you can rely on someone to report for work on time consistently.
Here are some actions you can take when your remote staff are suffering from the “tardiness disease” :
- As a part of agreeing your engagement with the staff member which should be performed as part of your onboarding, ensure that the shift timings work for both you and your staff member. A handy tool that can really evaluate the tardiness and work performance of your staff is the Time Doctor. This tool measures what websites have been visited, how long, and also gets a screenshot of their screen every couple of minutes. This should prevent a tardiness issue in the first place, if it doesn’t, then you have a right to implement the next measures
- All VE People staff report to work 15 minutes before their shift starts. They do this with a quick ping on Skype to say “I’m on track to start in 15 minutes – see you then”. These messages are sent to our Client Services Leads; and if they are not alerted 15 minutes prior to your shift, the phone starts ringing.
- Another obvious approach is unworked hours are not paid. This really goes without saying, but hitting tardy virtual staff in their hip pocket sometimes is the only way to send the message
- Document performance discussions – gather that data that supports your position that a staff member is being tardy and sit down and discuss it with them. Avoid blanket statements such as “You are always late!” to more fact based discussions such as “In the past 10 work days you have reported late to work 4 times. Is there anything wrong?” Develop a plan that outlines improved attendance from your staff member that you both can monitor and manage. Document this discussion and file for future reference. I always utilise my HR co-ordinator to manage and document these discussions although I do contribute to ensure the message is clear.
- Job or task re-assignment – re-allocate work to more reliable staff to ensure no delivery slips for your clients.
- Shift re-alignment – during discussions with your virtual staff member, identify if there are any contributing factors that are causing the issue. If there is and re-working the staff’s shift times is an option, work with the staff member to negotiate a mutually beneficial outcome
- Termination – when all else fails, sometimes getting that one troublesome late starter to work is just like banging your head against a brick wall. Make the hard call and remove them from your team – your team should respect your decision. Staff members who are perceived as letting the team down can be a real drain on morale.
The key is to really understand the root cause of the lateness. If there is a genuine reason, work with your employee to find a mutually beneficial solution. If there is no genuine reason and no improvement after trying some or all of the above, your options become limited and swift action is probably required.