Thanks to the pandemic, remote work is here to stay, whether you like it or not. It’s the only way for businesses to operate while working around their own limitations.
At the same time, some things in your organisation need to change. For example, you can no longer look over your shoulder and see if your team is doing their jobs or not. With remote work, you can’t see if employees are actually working since you and everyone else are not in the workplace.
Some who like to micromanage their teams may found the transition to remote work difficult. But, if anything, remote work is a blessing in disguise because it allows everyone to approach work from a results-based perspective.
At the end of the day, what matters most is whether your team did a good job or not, no matter how they did it.
Now, since your business relies on your leadership and expertise, you must take ownership of remote work operations by knowing how to track your team’s productivity using performance indicators (KPIs).
Not all businesses and departments will have the same KPIs. This article will however be highlighting the most fundamental metrics to help you and your organsation assess the overall productivity of your remote teams. You may apply these principles to help your teams produce high-quality work consistently where ever they are logged in from.
As mentioned, it’s impossible to keep a close eye on remote workers due to conditions beyond one’s control.
You can’t reprimand an employee who submits work past the deadline because she had an emergency at home or was experiencing internet connection problems for a period. And you can’t get angry at your team just because they’re not online to chat. In fact, they may be working, and they logged out of the chat group to focus on their current tasks.
In this case, you have to reorient yourself to focusing away from how they work to what they’ve accomplished over time.
By shifting your mindset to a more results-based approach, you can focus on the things that matter most, which is the work that’ll ultimately help your business generate more revenue and not things that happen in between.
To do this, your organisation must use a project management tool like Asana or ClickUp. It allows managers to input and take stock of all the projects and tasks that need to be completed on time.
You can organise your work in the order of important tasks that need immediate attention to the ones that are due in a few weeks or months. Then enter the details for each project, break them down into tasks, and assign them to the right people.
Once they’ve completed their tasks, you can leave your feedback highlighting the need for further amends or giving final approvals so they can move on to the next task.
From here, you can monitor your employees’ productivity by looking at the pending tasks and those they’ve completed successfully. This information could then be used to evaluate work performance.
The beauty of using a project management tool is to instill accountability among employees.
By assigning tasks on a tool where everyone in the team can see what everybody’s doing, it gives your employees a sense of ownership and pride in what they’re doing. This allows them to perform at their best and show others the kind of worker they are.
Successfully integrating project management tools in your business is also a feather in your cap — an achievement to add to your resume. It shows you and your organisation’s resilience and how well you adapt during a time of massive changes.
Time Spent on Tasks
It’s one thing to worry about whether or not your team will complete the tasks on time. It’s another to know how long it takes for them to complete them.
Using time as KPI among remote workers is a contentious subject. It goes against the principles of a results-based workplace. It shouldn’t matter how much time employees spend on a task or project as long as the end result meets all your expectations, if not exceeds them.
At the same time, you don’t want your employees to spend too much time on a task. If they spend hours to complete a task that can be performed in minutes, they are not being very productive.
So, you need to strike a balance between allowing your employees free rein on how to complete their tasks and setting a reasonable time for each. You can set deadlines on your project management tools to help guide them accordingly. This way, they know what to do and how to complete a task within the timeframe you gave them.
If you want to track how long it takes them to complete a task, you can use a time tracking tool.
ClickUp has this feature where your employees can clock in when completing a specific task and clock out if they’re taking a break or are done with it. Time Doctor is yet another tool you can use to organise time-based tasks for your employees to finish.
Both are ideal if you pay employees based on how many hours they work for you.
Using time as a KPI, you can see your best performers based on how quickly they complete the tasks and projects assigned to them. While the goal is for employees to take their time to do the tasks, you should encourage them to complete them sooner rather than later.
An even better alternative is to incentivise early finishers and do a good job of it. Using this as a KPI will help evaluate each of your employees during performance reviews.
This is also important considering that more than three-quarters of recruiters hire new employees who aren’t a good fit in the company, among other HR statistics. By filling higher positions in the company with in-house talent, you encourage employees to stay in your organisation and continue producing good results.
Effective communication is a huge component of a successful organisation. Employees don’t have to be friends to work harmoniously and produce magic together for your business.
But with remote work, communication becomes more of a chore than a natural occurrence. Employees have to log in to their messenger app to chat with others. They will then have to wait for messages from you or the manager for further instructions regarding the tasks.
Worse, messenger apps can be more of a distraction than a tool for communication and collaboration. The alerts and threads popping up your screen may interrupt you from focusing on your job.
As the team leader, you need to communicate more deliberately in a remote work setting.
You must create rules regarding how employees use your messenger apps. Use a tool like Slack to organise communication between teams and groups. You can create channels for specific projects and confine your discussion there. There’s also a default general chat area where you can make announcements.
Aside from online chat, you will find yourself scheduling meetings with your teams. Assigning a date for the meeting in advance using Zoom or Google Meet gives people enough time to prepare so they can attend without interruption.
Even better, you can use a business phone system to conduct your business meetings. This way, people without an internet connection can still join using their landlines or mobile phones.
So, how does communication become a KPI in this context?
Laying down the foundations of communicating with your employees allows you to gauge their responsiveness. It doesn’t matter if they’re not active or participating in discussions at all times as long as they’re there.
After all, the best ability is availability. Seeing them attend meetings, reply to your messages on time, or reply to feedback from your project management is a good indicator of your team’s communication skills.
Communication should not become a roadblock rather it should a solution for better productivity. Consider holding virtual team-building sessions after work. For example, critical thinking games and virtual book clubs are designed to foster relationships among employees outside of the workplace. How they build camaraderie through these activities should help create better synergy when working together.
Using the KPIs above, you can better evaluate your remote team’s productivity and overall performance. By focusing on what matters most – which is the actual work at hand – you are encouraging rather than forcing employees to perform their best.
The KPIs also put the fate of employees performance in their own hands. How they use their time to complete tasks and projects assigned to them will dictate whether or not they are eligible for a raise or promotion on their following performance review. Using these KPIs will provide clear metrics to evaluate each employee fairly. Your judgment won’t be clouded by factors unrelated to how they performed over time.
Finally, adapting these KPIs allows you to embrace remote work with open arms. No one knows when things will get back to normal, perhaps this is the new normal… and most employees, if not all, seem to have taken a liking to working remotely. So, it’s best to invest properly in remote work, starting with implementing these KPIs.
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