6 ways to measure the productivity of remote employees
Working at home can be pretty fantastic. Increased flexibility, a quiet environment and no more commuting in peak travel hours are just a few reasons why working remotely can lead to a rewarding work life.
However, now that remote working is no longer an inevitable response to the COVID-19 pandemic, some business leaders are reluctant to roll it out. One of the biggest reasons for this is that they don’t trust a remote workforce to work hard and do a good job.
The reality is that remote workers often reward the trust placed in them to work out of direct sight, by using their time as they should. However, in order to ensure full transparency and build a relationship of trust, there are ways to track performance, constructively.
For business leaders who are still wary, there are ways of measuring employee productivity when they work from home. None involve surveillance or productivity monitoring software – a controversial and morale-sapping trend. Instead, they focus on the goals your remote teams are meeting, not what your employee is doing every minute of the work day. It’s about the end result for the employer, rather than the journey the employee chose to get there.
This doesn’t just work for teams that are in the same country. All the advice below can apply to international workers as well, so you can take advantage of overseas talent and bring them into the fold with confidence.
So how do you measure the productivity of remote employees?
It’s not about monitoring, but ensuring your remote team is motivated and focused - it is important to track productivity. After all, reduced productivity while working remotely can happen and for a variety of reasons. Understanding if remote teams are sinking or swimming will allow you as a leader to look into why that is and support them.
1. Have KPIs and objectives and key results defined for each team
If you’re tracking objectives and key results and KPIs, you’ll be able to see how remote workers are performing against their goals, both big and small. There is no need to peer over their shoulder at their desk.
2. Utilise project management software to improve visibility and accountability
Project management software has become huge in the move to remote work, and with so many options on the market, there’s something for everyone. They allow managers to measure productivity across teams without being intrusive, making it easy to see how tasks are coming along.
3. Encourage the use of mini milestones for tasks
For employees who love the satisfaction of ticking the ‘done’ box, breaking big work into mini-milestones is a great motivator. It also allows for increased visibility of task progress, so managers can see how far away something is from being completed.
You can also standardise it across the board, so create a template of mini-milestones for a certain piece of work that can be duplicated each time.
4. Set baseline completion times
This goes hand in hand with deadline setting but consider setting baseline completion dates for common tasks. For example, a design brief for a creative team might require a response within one week. Importantly, work with your employees to get an idea of these completion times – as the ones doing the work, will have a good idea of what rate should be expected per item.
5. Take stock regularly of how the team is tracking towards their goals
Having regular team meetings and 1:1s should be a key part of managing a team. Keep them running at a good pace and catch up on progress against those objectives and key results, as well as the smaller tasks. Encourage feedback and candid conversations, where you can get an idea of how your remote workers feel about their work and how they assess their own progress.
A work relationship based on trust is a key part of the remote working environment and communication is a big part of that. One of the best ways to measure employee productivity of a remote workforce is just to ask them how they’re getting along.
How do you maintain the performance of remote employees?
It’s not just about measuring productivity — ensuring your remote employees are productive and enjoying their work also requires some commitment from leaders. Luckily, there’s plenty of ways to keep remote workers engaged with their work and with the company.
Reward hard work
If employees feel appreciated for the work they do and are happy with their work, they’re going to be more motivated. In fact, an Oxford University study says that happy employees are 13% more productive than those who are unhappy in their roles. Do your employees feel satisfied and supported in their roles?
Just because your team isn’t set up in the office, doesn’t mean that you can’t pass a positive word along.