It's no secret that remote work went from necessity to a cultural phenomenon over the past several years, and adapting to it as an employer is non-negotiable if you want to see global success within your company. That said, it's daunting to remove physical proximity from the picture and trust your team to get their jobs done — and done well — from their own homes or local cafes.
Measuring the overall success of your company means you must measure the productivity and performance of your team, and doing both looks a lot different when they're working remotely. While you want your workers to trust you, you also need to ensure that communications are followed up on, deadlines are met, and your company morale remains solid. This means that understanding what it means for them to be productive remotely is critical to building a global work-from-home team you can feel proud of.
Productivity in remote work
Ultimately, how productive your workers are isn't about how long they're sitting at their desks — it's about the ratio of the work produced to the amount of time it took to get it done. While it might be easy to assume that productivity declines in the comfort of one's own home, studies have consistently shown the opposite. In fact, a nine-month study done by Stanford University in 2013 showed employees believed they were on average 13% more effective at their jobs when working from home, and most recently, a study by Prodoscore had employees expressing they were up to 47% more effective.
Though it's obvious there are millions of people globally who have already benefited by working from home, it's not as simple as hiring your top candidates and sending them on their way to do their jobs. It takes structure, foresight, and transparency to promote a culture of productivity within a remote environment, and defining key performance indicators for your workers is an essential component of setting them up for success.
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How to define KPI for remote workers
In a nutshell, key performance indicators are designed to track and measure employees’ abilities to succeed outside the employer’s office. While these look different from company to company when it comes to specifics, many productivity metrics are in the categories of self-discipline, effective communication, and professional growth.
As you continue to grow your remote business, you'll be able to build upon your definition of KPI for remote workers, recognize what constitutes success, and eliminate what doesn't. It's important to remember that while you may be confident about what you'd like to see from your team on paper, you must also be flexible and understand it's likely you'll have to rework your KPIs over time to fit the needs of your company.
Here are some key questions to ask yourself when determining what assessing productivity might look like for your remote team:
- Will you have a system for tracking the work your remote workers do or the hours they spend? How do you envision this looking on a consistent basis?
- How often do you want to communicate with your team? How often do you want your team — or teams — to communicate with each other?
- What will you give your employees for self-assessments? What will you offer for professional development opportunities?
Although you want to ensure that you are trusted as a leader, it can be a great idea to go directly to the source when establishing your remote work performance indicators: your workers themselves. Consider taking a poll or sending out a survey to determine what they believe would work best when it comes to measuring productivity; you might be surprised at how much relevant information it reveals.
Parameters for measuring productivity
Despite there not being a specific set of rules when it comes to measuring productivity in a remote office, there are several foundational parameters you can develop your KPIs around:
To determine if your employees are staying on task while working from home, you'll need to evaluate their levels of self-discipline and abilities to get done what needs to get done — when it needs to get done.
- Milestone or goal setting is necessary to staying on track when it comes to long-term success — and that's in a typical work environment. When it comes to remote work, ensuring your employees do so can sometimes prove a bit more difficult unless the right systems are in place. You'll need to consider how they'll track their hours, stay organized with company deadlines, and document their progress, along with what repercussions might be in place when any requirements aren't followed.
- Quality over quantity is one of the parameters that has been shaken up with the advancement of remote work, as many employees are finding they can actually get more done at home without being distracted by coworkers, taking a full hour for lunch, or commuting. Many employers are finding that some of the systems they had in place simply don't work in a virtual atmosphere, and they are recalibrating their expectations to reflect the need for quality employees who can still do quality work from a home office. Ensure that you know what quality work will look like for all positions in your company, and relay its importance to your staff.
- Meeting deadlines is easy when they're an automatic part of an established system but can be challenging for some remote workers without the proper systems in place. Defining your KPI for remote workers who need to abide by set due dates can be challenging, as discipline in the work-from-home world looks much different than in a traditional environment, but it is necessary. Think about how individuals and teams will keep track of dates, how often they'll meet up with one another for accountability, and any consequences when deadlines are missed.
When you have a team that communicates well, they're more likely to feel like they're connected to one another and the company, in turn making them more productive.
- Reply times are key when it comes to measuring productivity in a work environment, but there is a fine line between ensuring that your employees are on top of their communication and micromanaging them. Determine a response time you feel represents attentiveness and respect while understanding the challenges and differing demands of a work-from-home office, such as caring for children or pets, widely varying internet connections, and time zone differences.
- Respectful and efficient language must always be used in any professional environment, but it may be easy for some employees to become more casual with the way they speak to coworkers and management when it comes to writing. As you think about written communication KPI for your remote workers, consider the chain of command you need your team to follow for any questions or concerns, and establish guidelines for employees to construct work-appropriate emails.
- Separating work life from personal life can be difficult at a remote job, and it's key you establish clear boundaries when it comes to using company emails, telephone numbers, or addresses outside of work to avoid any compliance or legal issues. Furthermore, encouraging your employees to separate work and life shows you understand a balance is necessary and will help employees to compartmentalize effectively, leading to increased production.
If there's one thing that the shift to remote work has shown, it's that growth and change are pivotal to success no matter what seems to be in the way — and it's no different when it comes to your own team.
- Participating in meetings, seminars, or workshops doesn't have to be mandatory, but if you and your company place a high value on professional development, perhaps establishing a KPI specific to attending a certain amount per quarter or year is an option. Include those that fall within the workday to further increase the value of productivity and growth, perhaps even considering an incentive system for exceptional engagement.
- Staying connected in a virtual environment takes creativity and commitment beyond work hours, but it can help employees feel more comfortable and secure in their jobs, so consider KPI for remote workers involving any required in-person activities or events you want to use as indicators of productivity and success.
Remote-first leadership tips
Though it may not look the same as it would in a physical professional setting, leading a remote team effectively and efficiently can still be exceptionally empowering. Here are some simple leadership tips to follow when developing your KPI for remote workers and managing a virtual workforce:
- Manage your expectations.
- Focus on outcomes, not activity.
- Be flexible and empathetic.
- Mentor, don't manage.
When it comes down to it, being a great leader means you understand your employees on a human level first and foremost. Sure, the transition out of office has seen its ups and downs, but it's absolutely here to stay — and that means adapting to the needs of your remote workers.
Skuad can help you take your company global with ease, allowing you to focus on developing stellar KPI for remote workers you've brought on to your team. With our secure platform, we guarantee compliance with local laws in over 160 countries, all while maintaining your privacy. We want to see you succeed!
Interested in learning more? Schedule a demo today to check out our platform and chat with a representative about how Skuad can help your business expand and thrive in this remote world.