When your employees work remotely, how do you know they are actually working? Will they exhibit the execution discipline needed to get work done? Are they less productive working from home? Or will their productivity dramatically increase?
If you’re concerned about how much work your remote employees are getting done, you’re not alone. Most managers we have spoken to since the pandemic broke out are concerned that working from home will cause a drop in productivity. More teams are working from home for the first time, and ensuring productivity is more challenging and also more critical than ever before.
Whether you are looking at adopting a remote work structure for the short or long term, it is better to over-prepare than underestimate what it would take to manage your remote workers productivity, effectively. However, this has to be approached with caution.
Your efforts to keep abreast of how your employees spend their work periods can easily lead to micromanagement. I know some employees don’t get work done unless a supervisor stands over their shoulders. Still, you have to learn how to assess each of your team members properly and then customise your remote work management style to each based on existing historical data of their work output, productivity, execution discipline etc.
You might have previously managed teams of 2, 10 or even 50 onsite staff, but remote working is a different ball game. In this article, I will share some practical tips to track, monitor and optimise your remote team’s work productivity.
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How to Track your Remote Workers Productivity
Focus on Results and Not Hours Worked
Many organisations are new to the remote work structure and have spent all their existence working with onsite employees who can be easily observed. Also, “working from home” may unconsciously mean “no work” to many team leaders. However, organisations must realise that the main reason employees prefer working remotely is that they get to work out of their comfort space/home zone. According to ZDNet research, workers are generally more productive and communicative when working from home.
When dealing with remote staff, the focus should be on the work that was done by each employee; rather than focusing on the hours that were spent working. It is almost impossible to control how your remote employees use their time; you can’t measure the exact amount of work they put in. Your best option is to be result-oriented as this keeps everyone focused on accomplishing goals in the set times.
Employ Internal Feedback
A critical approach to measuring the productivity of remote workers is implementing an internal feedback process. A way to do this is to mandate your employees to fill out brief surveys, where they provide candid feedback of their colleagues’ performances and attitude to work.
You can carry out Peer-to-peer assessments by asking teammates to review and provide feedback on one another’s performance. This assessment should seek to gain insight into how colleagues see one another’s areas of strengths and areas where improvements will be sorely needed.
Embrace Technology Tools
Tracking remote employees’ productivity using manual methods or documented policies alone is quite impractical. Take advantage of the numerous technology solutions that are available to make remote working as efficient as possible. Some of which include:
Sometimes, sending messages is not enough. Zoom has been in use for a while, but its usage has skyrocketed since the COVID-19 pandemic. This software is a very convenient video conferencing solution for small to large teams and highly cost-effective. Other video conferencing tools include Google Meet, Skype, Microsoft Teams, etc.
- Google Docs
If you haven’t done so already, consider making use of Google Docs. Google Docs allows team members to select tasks they want to work on, collaborate and assign tasks to other colleagues in real-time without the constant barrage of emails.
Outwork is a remote work management tool that helps you manage your field staff and off-site activities time-efficiently. It is a task management platform that provides an efficient, cost-effective, and hassle-free experience for managing field staff and off-site activities. It was built to help organisations effectively and collaboratively mobilise, manage, track and monitor performance and results of its teams in diverse locations in real-time.
Trello is a top-rated project management solution. This tool allows you to assign tasks and gives you an overview of projects being worked on and by whom. On your Trello board, the manager can see what each remote employee is working on at any point in time. Constant communication and updates are a way to increase transparency within the team.
Set Clear Goals and Expectations
Organisations that are result oriented set clear goals and deadlines for remote employees just as they would for regular workers. Goals should be dissected into smaller tasks; this makes it easier to track them and less tedious on the part of the employee.
With the use of specific metrics, you will get the best out of your remote employees. The metrics that can be used differ based on the nature of your business and what your remote employees do. Examples of some remote working performance metrics you can track include the following:
- The number of sales
- Revenue generated
- Number of acquired customers
- Customer acquisition cost (CAC)
- Customer complaints
- Average response time
- Lead conversion rate
- Turnover rate
- Return on investment (ROI)
When remote employees know that they will be held accountable for results, they’ll be more focused on accomplishing tasks.
Recognise and Reward Accomplishments
You don’t have to stop at setting goals for your remote employees; rewarding them when they meet targets will directly improve their productivity. Recognising and rewarding your employees at the right moment is an art that every business owner should master.
Keeping people passionate and invested in what they do benefits the organisation. Employee motivation is a significant factor that worries most managers when dealing with remote staff, and a pat on the back would motivate employees to go the extra mile.
Prioritise Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
One way to measure remote working productivity is to focus on your remote employees’ key performance indicators (KPIs). These metrics would show you whether your remote employees are working productively or not.
Setting KPIs is dependent on the roles of your remote employees. Work with your remote employees to determine what remote work metrics are the most important for each position. Good KPIs for remote workers must be clear, something that your employees can influence or control, and should be tied directly to your business goals.
Trust Your Employees
Managers need to communicate directly with their employees instead of “sneaking around and looking at logs.” Makers of these tools also said it could do more harm than good to use these tools to spy on employees
A spokesperson for Trello, a work organisation app owned by Atlassian, said in an email that managers should be empathetic and trusting as workers deal with new stressors, which may include sick loved ones and taking care of kids. “Businesses need to trust their employees to do their best under these circumstances (and if you can’t, why did you hire them?).”
“Most employers find time tracking to be a critical tool to figure out how productive employees are when working remotely. But it’s essential to empower the employee to have access to all that data, so they can make actionable changes in their lives to become more productive. Big Brother tools where only the employers can see the data aren’t useful.
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How Remote Companies Approach Productivity Tracking
Successful teams approach remote employee management in different ways. Some operate entirely on trust and don’t measure anything, except there is an obvious problem. Other companies closely monitor their remote employees throughout the workdays. Some companies even insist on having team members available via webcam.
You are not wrong or being excessive if you wish to track the productivity of your remote workers; the point is to get it right. This is vital for a healthy Return on Investment on their input and a good way to appreciate and encourage their development in your organisation’s operation and hierarchy.
Productivity check is a continuous process that keeps remote employees on their toes. Most importantly, it also allows your remote employees to evaluate themselves and work hard to level up to the productivity of their colleagues.
To find out how you can improve your remote workers productivity, click here to watch our webinar replay on Best Practices To Keep Your Remote Employees Engaged And Productive. After watching the webinar replay, you’ll learn:
- Why effective engagement is imperative to remote worker productivity
- The challenges faced by most businesses when engaging their remote employees
- The remote competency model to help your remote employees stay productive
- Best practices for managing your contingent workforce remotely
If you have any questions you would likee us to address kindly reach out to us here; we would love to hear from you.