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Performance Management

Measuring Employee Productivity for a Remote Workforce

Measuring employee productivity is generally one of the top priorities for most business leaders to add efficiency to organizational operations. Organizations today have decades of trends and data to fall back on when it comes to in office productivity. However, the present circumstances are completely transforming the way we work. Invariably, the rise of a remote workforce requires organizations to rethink their approach to measuring employee productivity. 

Challenges in Measuring Employee Productivity Remotely

While most organizations have mastered the art of measuring employee productivity in a conventional work environment, serious challenges are surfacing as the workforce is going remote. “Is my team still putting in the same effort and time”? is one of the biggest questions that managers are asking themselves. This challenge is arising because generally, productivity has been measured in terms of the hours that an employee puts in.  While this worked for industrial workers, measuring productivity in hours is not a robust way, when it comes to knowledge workers, in times when the workforce is remote. 

Additionally, business leaders wonder how much time are employees actually putting in, in comparison to the time they seem to be logged in. The inability to constantly monitor over employee work is proving to be a challenge for measuring productivity. Therefore, most organizations are now trying to experiment with newer ways to measure employee productivity.

The Way Out

Undoubtedly, measuring employee productivity for a remote workforce is challenging. Fortunately, some organizations, ahead of their time, have been successful in identifying the top strategies to win their way out. 

Measure deliverables, not time

To begin with, organizations need to completely let go of the time metric that has been in place for a long time. Simply calculating for how many hours an employee was logged on from their system may not be a robust metric for all employees to count on. For instance, no matter how many hours a designer spends on the system, what ultimately counts is the number/ type of design, he/ she is able to produce.  Thus, managers and business leaders must focus on the output that each employee ought to deliver. There should be a clear communication of measurable output for each task. Invariably, productivity or its absence should be measured on the performance of achievement of these said goals. This means that simply equating the number of hours with productivity is essentially flawed, especially when the team is working from home. At the same time, simply achieving the desired output in quantity is not the solution. Measuring employee productivity should be a sum of the quantity of output delivered factoring in the quality of work too.  

Two way check-ins

The next metric to measure employee productivity is by stepping up communication. This means that the managers should make an extra effort to constantly check up on their team members to gauge the pulse of work. One can measure productivity by judging how prompt the employee is when checked upon. This means that the employee should be responsive and active in communicating with his/ her manager.

At the same time, the employee must be able to give a quick update on his/ her work during the day. Only when employees are working productively will they be able to give quick updates, else they will simply throw motherhood statements like, “I am on track” or “The work is going well”. Additionally, measuring employee productivity should include looking for two-way check ins. This means that employees should be actively reporting their progress to their managers without being prompted every time. When an employee has been productive, he/she would be more than active in sharing the progress, hence checking in regularly.  

Use productivity tools

Productivity tools like Asana, Trello, Monday, BaseCamp can be excellent tools for measuring employee productivity. On the one hand, they can help organizations clearly allocate tasks to team members with specific timelines and instructions. Secondly, it can help employees clock in their progress in real time. Since productivity is all about performing the work in hand, the ability to measure it in real time is a boon for organizations managing a remote workforce. What is most effective about these tools is the fact that they are completely transparent and ensure accountability. Each employee’s progress is captured and organizations can easily use these data points to reward the ones who are actually working hard, albeit remotely.

Have regular performance reviews

Conventionally, performance reviews have been an annual or half yearly process. However, with a remote workforce, this trend has to change. Organizations need to schedule more frequent performance reviews to measure how much an employee has been productive. At the same time, these virtual review meetings can be a way to gauge the challenges a remote workforce is facing in productivity when working from home. The frequency could be anywhere from weekly to bimonthly, depending upon the nature of work and more importantly, the team size. In case of small teams, reviews could take place every week. This could in fact be a chance for employees to illustrate how productive they have been and what value add they bring to the organization. Such presentations by employees will make measuring employee productivity a cake walk.

Measuring Employee Productivity: Reinventing the Wheel

To sum up, it is a no brainer that organizations need to rethink and reinvent the way they measure productivity if they want a realistic picture. Simply using traditional time logs will yield an incomplete picture, which will not be a value add to the organization’s top line. In such a situation, it is very important to also reinvent the hiring wheel and onboard individuals who are fit for the job, and they will ensure productivity. Invariably, when the employees are suitable for the role, measuring employee productivity becomes seamless. Wondering how to augment productivity with the right talent and team, stay tuned to this space as we will bring to you some insightful updates!

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