With a wave of employees now working from home due to COVID-19 concerns and increasingly flexible career options, employers are faced with a new dilemma – will the work still get done? If you believe all of the memes, working from home involves endless trips to the kitchen, a Netflix session here and there, and constant distraction from kids, spouses and pets. While this scenario paints a pretty entertaining picture, fear not – staff working from home can actually yield better returns from a company point of view than onsite personnel. If managed well, the right team will thrive in a more flexible working environment, and output will reflect the open, trusting culture you create.
Regardless of your company’s structure, productivity tracking is vital to ensuring your employees are equipped to manage their workloads as well as keeping up with client needs. While you may be familiar with the systems that guide how to measure productivity in the workplace, moving online to accommodate remote staff throws up additional challenges to productivity tracking.
As a leader, there are numerous ways you can measure productivity of remote workers using some clever online tools and a few adjustments to usual procedures. These ways to measure productivity will offer you the reassurance that work is getting done to a high standard and in a timely manner, but also ensure your staff do not feel micromanaged in the process.
Here are six ways to measure productivity where staff are operating online or remotely. The key focus here is output, rather than hours worked, and discovering ways to stay connected even though you can no longer catch up in the break room for coffee and a chat.
Use a productivity and project management platform
There are many apps and programs available now that help you and your team manage projects. Some of the popular ones include Asana, Monday or Trello, where you can assign tasks to staff, and they can then collaborate on the outcome. Project management tools are handy as a measure of productivity, as they offer real-time updates of each employees portfolio.
Google Suite is also beneficial for document collaboration, file sharing and booking meetings through a shared online calendar. While not a project management or productivity tracking platform per se, the ability to instantly collaborate can be a real time-saver when deadlines loom.
Set clear goals and re-evaluate KPIs
Employees will already have job position goals or KPIs they continually work towards; however, when moving to work from home, it is wise to re-evaluate these. For example, it may no longer be feasible to achieve 20 new clients this quarter due to an industry downturn, so attempting to measure productivity based on this KPI is redundant. Instead, take the time to set clear, relevant goals and break these down into achievable milestones to keep your staff on track, so you will both then have a much more useful measure of productivity moving forward.
Set realistic deadlines and measurable metrics
Similar to setting clear goals and KPIs, setting deadlines and measurable metrics are also important when working out how to measure productivity of remote workers. Different industries require different productivity measurement tactics, but whatever you choose – make sure they are achievable and fair. For example, sales and marketing may have weekly lead targets or customer acquisition benchmarks; HR may be more concerned with keeping on top of expenses and revenue; and IT and tech support roles may base their metrics on response time or speed of issue resolution. For other industries, deadlines based on specific projects or tasks, such as preparing a report or article, may be more appropriate. Keep these ways to measure productivity focused on output and the ability to meet metrics, rather than hours in front of emails or the number of pages of content.
Maintain meetings using online video conferencing
Staying connected with your staff and colleagues is vital to maintain and measure productivity. This not only gives you all a chance to brainstorm and problem-solve, but the banter that such a meeting enables is essential for team camaraderie and morale. By having an opportunity for a regular ‘chat’, you can measure productivity in informal ways by talking through their day or week, current projects and obstacles they are facing. Video conferencing apps such as Skype and Zoom are popular tools for online team meetings. Consider setting up a regular meeting time, whether that is daily, weekly or bi-weekly, to check in with your staff and troubleshoot any problems that have arisen.
Require employees to track their time on different tasks
Time tracking as a measure of productivity will help determine where lags are occurring, as well as setting realistic deadlines for other projects. Working from home is vastly different from working in the office – there are distractions and often competing commitments, no matter how hard you try to focus. There may be children and spouses at home, the work environment may not be ideal, and your staff may not have access to their usual tools or desk setup. By keeping a note of how long it takes to perform a task or project, you will all gain a better understanding of key productivity concerns, as well as ways to improve overall performance and optimise quality output.
Trust your staff
Trust builds honesty and integrity, and no business operating with remote staff can succeed without it. Trying to micro-manage your team as you work out how to measure productivity of remote workers will ultimately backfire. The bottom line is that as long as you have enough systems in place to monitor sufficient output, you can let your employees who work from home manage their loads in the most effective way they can. Working from home requires a degree of flexibility and careful time management, so always keep the emphasis on what gets done, not when.
With a few well-thought-out productivity measurement tools in place, your dynamic remote team will hit their targets and continue to serve the company and its customers to a high level. Discover the best ways to stay connected and collaborate by trialling a few systems, and you will soon have a failsafe way to measure productivity of remote workers that ensures optimal, quality output on every project.
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