Just the other day, I had an interesting discussion with someone who is using remote resources on their project. We had a bit of a laugh over those people who constantly worry that remote resources might not be doing what they’re supposed to and, instead, goofing-off or, as we say in our industry jargon, “eating bon-bons.” Most projects are pretty savvy about this but what if your project is new to do this? How would you know, short of putting cameras on them?
First of all, I’ve written a number of blog posts on the issues of remote projects. Here are a few if you’re interested. These should give you a start in understanding the issues: Remote Team Blog Posts
But in case you don’t want to read all those posts, here is what I’ll generally say about remote workers, and it’s the same thing that came from the conversation I’m referring to in the first sentence of this post, It’s a common outcome to these types of conversations and it is this:
Most people who can’t learn to work remotely will show up on your radar fairly quickly. Most people are either diligent with giving you the time they’re charging you for and working hard -or- they’ll just goof-off. It’s extremely rare that a person is sometimes diligent and other times a goof-off.
Actually, it’s still fairly rare but does occasionally happen that someone who starts strong looses interest and starts goofing off after some time goes by so keep monitoring everyone. A poor performance week doesn’t automatically mean a person isn’t pulling their weight – there a lot of factors that go into this – but it could be an initial sign.
So, is it possible for your resource to be both digilient AND constantly “eating bon-bons” well, I’ll just say this – if the person is truly productive, do you really care if they’re also doing something else? If they’re doing high-quality work and getting things done, that’s really all you should care about and, let’s face it – sitting on-site doesn’t mean they won’t also still be doing other things, anyway. So, if you don’t worry about these things when they’re on-site, don’t worry about it when they’re remote.