The employer’s solution kit for remote-worker challenges Part 5: Measuring productivity

For online workers, the imperative has become to measure performance rather than presence. It might be more complex to determine what Jane has contributed rather than how many hours she has spent behind her desk. But the result will certainly yield more useful insights into her productivity and, so, her value when it comes to the company’s bottom line.

Does remote working encourage or impede productivity?

The surprising answer is that, while some organisations are firmly opposed to allowing staff to work from home, there is a lot of evidence showing equal to enhanced levels of productivity among workers after they were allowed or requested to start working remotely.

Reasons for this include employees’ tendency to adapt quickly to changes and being willing to put more into getting the job done. This is partially a result of their having more flexibility and extra time available because of no longer having to commute daily and attend long-drawn-out meetings. Company culture and leadership have also become more focused on boosting morale in the face of challenging circumstances the world over, and this in itself tends to translate into improved productivity.

It is important to realise the benefit of immersing temporary workers in company culture from the start. This investment in effort and time will pay off handsomely in terms of their commitment and, consequently, their productivity levels.

Tools for measuring productivity

There are various ways in which to determine individual employees’ throughput.

  • Start by drafting a policy that sets out how productivity will be measured. This creates certainty about the process and expectations for both the organisation and its employees.
  • Determine key performance indicators (KPIs) for each position in the company against which individuals’ performance can be measured. KPIs may have to be adjusted to fit the remote work situation.
  • Set formal short- and long-term goals and milestones for the organisation, for each team and for each employee, and periodically review progress against time estimations.
  • Use time trackers to help the organisation count employee hours and to help employees gain control over their day. This may seem like micro-managing, but ultimately it will help reveal the bigger picture of where everyone’s working day goes. If connected to specific tasks, it can also tell management when a disproportionate amount of time goes towards less important tasks. This, in turn, will help them guide employees in terms of more effective prioritisation.
  • Use project management software to track progress and show up any bottlenecks, snags and lags in productivity.
  • Regular virtual meetings reassure staff and boost morale. They also provide an informal forum for sharing and measuring achievements and for identifying and solving problems that can hamper productivity. Peer encouragement is a powerful tool to any organisation.

Takeaway

Accurate, up-to-date insights into employees’ productivity are more vital than ever in the online-operating business world. Translated into the organisation’s bottom line, the effort that goes into obtaining and leveraging this information will be worth its weight in gold.

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