The way we approached work turned on its head three years ago following the pandemic. Many roles moved from being office-based to now being completely remote. While it was anticipated this would be a short-term adaptation at the time, it now looks like things have changed for good. A hybrid work culture has been evolving as the new normal. Teams composed of employees working from the office, home or a mixture of both are slowly but surely being accepted by many organisations. This obviously has its positives, from eliminating the need to make long commutes everyday to a physical office environment, to having a better work-life balance.
This flexibility has led to many people not wanting to go back to how work used to be before 2020, which is further supported by the fact that almost three-quarters of the workforce are expected be working remotely by 2025.
And while remote working has many benefits, there are challenges too. Working away from the office can make it difficult for employers to track and monitor the progress of both teams and individuals. The lack of physical proximity could also mean that some employees don’t feel like they can resolve their work problems and stay on-track, or be aligned with team and departments on tasks.
Adding to this is another layer of complexity where employers are required to find a happy medium between regularly checking in with their team and micromanaging -‘work flexibility’ – if not managed well, can affect the quality of life as the lines between work and personal life blur. People working remotely could end up clocking in longer hours, and may have a tough time separating working hours from their personal time.
This is where OKRs (Objective and Key Results) come in, offering a brilliant opportunity to open up a seamless line of communication with your team(s) especially in a remote and dispersed setting.
what is okr?
OKRs is a performance management tool and a widely-used framework that can help with work alignment, and continuous monitoring of work products and measurable outcomes. It can help ensure everyone knows what they need to do and why they need to do it. There are a number of examples from industry-leading tech giants such as Google, Amazon, and Microsoft where implementing a business strategy with OKRs can result in unprecedented success.
So right now could probably be the best time as any to implement OKRs for your team, to help ensure they are productive and performing well.
benefits of implementing okr
Some of the benefits of using OKRs in a remote team are:
OKRs can help to ensure everyone is prioritising the right work, even when working remotely. When employees work in different locations, you risk goal overlap owing to employees not knowing what their colleagues are working on. Alignment ensures everyone is aware of their own goals and those of their colleagues, even when they don’t see them every day. By doing this, you’re executing your OKRs goals and contributing to other individuals or team/department/corporate OKRs to help move things forward.
One of the most important benefits of OKRs is the transparency of goals throughout the company. The OKR framework allows each person to see how their work contributes to wider company goals and what progress is being made by everyone in meeting the objective. In a hybrid work environment, transparency is more important than ever. It emphasises the importance of open communication. A huge reason for biases creeping in is the lack of transparency. Remote employees must never feel disadvantaged just because they are not on-site.
OKR is a process whereby everything is under regular review, and this helps you to adapt and apply any necessary changes quickly where the OKR is not being met. Hybrid teams can bring together people with similar skills and experience but from different business areas. In such a case, they will be able to collaborate more effectively than if they were working alone, especially through an agile OKR process. It enables them to share information quickly and learn from one another. It also makes it easier to share ideas and feedback, resulting in finding better solutions for problems or challenges facing your business.
When your team feels like their role has a purpose and contributes to company growth, it gives meaning to their work, improves job satisfaction, and ultimately makes them more productive. Everyone needs to understand their role in a hybrid team. Using an agile OKR process helps in aligning the teams with accountability.
When working remotely, communication can be difficult. OKRs encourage and facilitate open communication throughout the organisation. Regular check-ins throughout the process ensure employees don’t waste time feeling stuck and unsupported. Transparent communication practices ensure remote and office-based employees remain equal. The inability to have open and honest communication can be a huge setback and can impact the morale of the remote employee tremendously. It is not uncommon for remote employees to miss out on important information because it was communicated only in person.
how okr makes remote team management seamless
Part of the OKR process is to help managers get a holistic overview of what their teams are working on. OKRs enable this when managers check in with their teams regularly to ensure everything is on track with meeting the Key Results.
Asking questions around to-dos for the week, challenges encountered on tasks, problem-solving, and next steps can help ensure that everyone is working on the right things and change things around if something isn’t working. These regular check-ins help ensure the team is meeting goals on the one hand, while offering a pastoral benefit on the other.
You get a better overview of how everyone is doing, how they are finding their workload, and identify any common themes across the team that might require escalation, such as feeling overloaded with work.
Implementing OKRs brings focus and alignment to the team by ensuring everyone know what their goals and tasks are, and how they can help the organisation meet the overarching objective.
It also helps facilitate communication and transparency by involving everyone throughout the whole OKR process.
OKR performance management examples
Example 1: To create an inclusive remote working culture.
- Weekly check-ins between manager and team member to maintain an open line of communication.
- Bi-weekly team meetings to ensure the team feels connected.
- Monthly one-to-ones for all employees.
Example 2: To ensure all meetings are run remote-first.
- Host meetings at a time that suits employees working across different time zones.
- Decide on a single piece of software to host remote meetings.
- Record all meetings and share the minutes for anyone who cannot attend.
With the work scenario having changed so much these recent years, technology has caught up to meet the changing work environment. There are several resources available to bridge the divide between remote employees and on-site employees. Onboarding an agile OKR software to increase transparency and visibility across the organisation will go a long way to improve the hybrid workspace. When the objectives of the organisations are aligned with the key results of employees, then there is ownership, trust, and cohesive operations. OKR transparency is vital to mitigate the challenges of a hybrid workspace.
Photo credit: Our-team on Freepik