The world of work has changed dramatically since the pandemic hit the globe. Now in the covid era working remotely seems like the 'new normal' and no longer a luxury.
Though most employers resisted this sudden transition, they weren't left with much choice but to unlearn their past work and management practices. However, upon experiencing the advantages of the remote work model, they have been in a dilemma.
Moving forward more than 70% of employers are navigating the hybrid and remote work models for their businesses.
However, one thing that holds them back from going fully remote, if not for the virus, it's the constant fear of employees being 'unproductive.’ While the apprehensions are not entirely wrong, the level of productivity would vary from employee to employee due to a myriad of reasons.
In this post, we bring you some ways to enable your people and measure their productivity in remote work set up— to achieve better business outcomes. Let's begin!
1. Measure the outcome, not day-long activities
The biggest problem with remote working is that the managers lack trust in their teams. A Yahoo Finance survey says that only 22% of American workers found their managers trust them in remote work productivity. It is because they are used to seeing employees working right in front of them.
What's required more than ever is to build the trust in the employees. Instead of micromanaging. Do away with tracking their activity on their laptops/desktops; it will only leave them disgruntled.
Instead of keeping track of what is being done; when and how; focus on how well and how timely the tasks have been delivered. Interestingly, employees working from home spend 10 minutes less every day being unproductive, are 47% more productive and work one more day a week.
Certainly, employer trust, employee accountability, and optimal technology usage are the true building blocks of successful remote working. As long as the work is done in time, well, 'when' shouldn't matter. Remember,
Productivity = Output/ Time
2. Hold daily stand up calls for quick updates and direction
It is understandable that when people are not supposed to show up to the workplace daily, they might procrastinate. While it is not right to disrespect their privacy, scheduling a "stand-up call" every morning is best. Besides, you can also organize water cooler chat rooms.
The team stand-up calls should have a clear agenda. It should be shared before the meeting, quickly take the progress update, and prioritize what needs to be done next. The senior team members should create effective team meetings, and the focus should be on discussing the bottlenecks in the projects and getting them through the right channel.
Most importantly, the stand-up calls should start on time and finish on time.
3. Be tech-savvy
The biggest challenge for remote work productivity is not adopting the right technology. Yes, you read it right. Let's address the elephant in the room —
a) How to work on a task simultaneously?
b) How to be time-efficient?
c) How to brainstorm ideas?
These three hinder collaboration and work management when working remotely; here are some ways technology can help.
a) How to work on a task simultaneously?
When multiple teams or people are involved in a task/ project, choose a project management tool that empowers your teams to create, edit, and store documents and spreadsheets in real-time online. It will help reduce the mail trail, support real-time view + edit, and more.
It can also be the right anecdote for your managerial urge to see what was done when (There's an option to check the viewing trend of the pages.). By keeping a tab via one such tool, you can sense who is productive in the team. It also gives employees a great way to work and collaborate remotely.
b) How to be time-efficient?
When you have employees working remotely and visiting different locations for business, time clock software can be helpful. It helps block early clock-ins and fix missed punches. It is advisable to look for software that comes with a mobile app. It takes off the unnecessary burden to manage attendance and import data to run payroll. For employees, it eases the whole process of marking attendance and focusing on their deliverables.
c) How to brainstorm ideas?
The biggest challenge in remote working is getting together to ideate, discuss and plan as everyone works in isolation from their homes. Search for an on-cloud video communications app that lets you share screens, conduct meetings, live chats to brainstorm, and spur creativity even when working remotely so that work productivity never takes a backseat.
4. Set SMART KPIs
Creating meaningful productivity KPIs can help employees to a great extent. While KPIs would differ from department to department, the two apply for all.
a) Self Discipline
It entails the ability of an employee to share their deliverables on time except for the delay in tasks due to things that were out of the employee's control. When working remotely, employees would undoubtedly expect some flexibility given the amalgamation of work life and personal life, but are they still able to deliver in time?
The KPIs can identify which employees struggle to deliver their tasks and may negatively impact your bigger business outcomes.
b) Effective communication
This KPI indicates the employee's attentiveness, involvement, availability, and diligence during work hours. It includes replying to emails, colleagues' messages on time, intimating the co-workers, clients, and vendors if there is a delay in some task due to unavoidable reasons.
For instance, is the team manager assigning tasks to the team for the coming week in advance. When the task review meetings are held, is the agenda communicated to everyone required in the meeting in advance? If an employee deals with clients, are they attending calls in the desired TAT? Are they replying to emails on time?
One example of setting strong KPIs for sales personnel could be average touchpoints and follow-ups, lead engagement level, and call volume. While the first two show how effective communication is, the latter shows self-discipline.
Upon analyzing these and other subjective KPIs you set, the managers would get an opportunity early on to support and understand the employees whose performance is at risk.
5. Share feedback more often
Annual reviews aren't impactful in the remote work model. To optimize employee performance, you must follow a continuous feedback system. The data you fetch from tools will help or improve only when you discuss and share feedback in the team, identify the lag, and develop a solution that everyone agrees upon. Moreover, feedback meetings should be for the entire company, the whole group, and one-on-one when required.
To understand better, answer this — Do you hold a monthly review and chit-chat session to look back and realize how close or far holistically you are from the quarterly business goals? Do the managers hold weekly meetings for feedback with their teams? If the employee is underperforming, was there a one-on-one meeting scheduled?
6. Check on their well being
The sudden shift in work model and lifestyle impacted everyone differently. While some stayed with their family or friends, some stayed all alone. The same led to increased depression and anxiety, making it quintessential for companies to act responsibly. Some ways to keep a check on their well being are-
a) Say no to work pressure. Give employees the liberty to share their timelines
b) Appoint a therapist that employees can avail services of, anonymously
c) Encourage colleagues to keep in touch
d) Ask managers to appreciate interpersonal skills as well
e) Understand and support multigenerational workforce needs and more
A simple 'Hey! How are you doing?', 'Are you okay?', 'Are you free to talk?' always works. Nevertheless, from when we started remote working, it's become the preferred way to work for most.
A report on the state of remote work highlights that 3 in 4 (74%) people have said that working from home is better for their mental health after the pandemic.
So, now what? If we keep external factors aside, companies must pay attention to how they might impact their employees' mental health.
Here's a contrast —
- Collaborative team — workplace politics,
- Supportive Manager — Dominating boss,
- Opportunities to learn and grow — Stuck with the same work and position,
- recognition- criticism, task clarity — unclear tasks and work pressure.
What would you choose? We hope everything is positive for their well-being because the saner the employees are, the better they work.
7. Reward the job well done
Appreciation that is monetized? Who wouldn't love it? A simple survey with google form can collect feedback and appreciation notes from colleagues for each other. Not only can that be used to present in the monthly virtual team or company meetings to appreciate and boost morale. Furthermore, the same feedback and your unbiased observation can be combined to give away rewards for outstanding performance, output, and such.
Promoting 360-degree performance review and rewarding/ incentivizing the work impacts productivity directly. Certainly, a great way to boost morale and make your teams walk an extra mile to deliver nothing but the best!
Measure your Measures!
Since we are all learning and unlearning every day due to the sudden work model jumble, it's imperative to measure employee productivity AND the tools we are using to measure it. The tools must help employees stay productive and not sabotage their morale. Moreover, they must be meaningful, keep your employees connected and give them the freedom to work in the way that suits them the most.
Be flexible and precise and keep relooking your ways to measure, manage, and don't be afraid to adapt to the new. Do it all to support and equip remote working. It's still fresh and stressful for everyone, and your team is no different!
In a nutshell, trust your employees and your observations for both- people and tools. You will be good!
Saurabh Wani is a digital marketer at ZoomShift, an employee scheduling tool. He has worked as an HR Recruiter for over 3 years, where he defined the recruitment life-cycle that helped employees find the right job. He loves traveling and can be seen binge-watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S when he is not working.
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