How to Measure the Productivity of Your Remote Workers

There’s no denying that the prevalence of remote work has fundamentally changed how employers manage their workers. The major economic shift toward businesses operating remotely began long before COVID-19 necessitated it. In fact, between 2005 and 2017, there was a 159% increase in the number of Americans telecommuting.

The pandemic only accelerated this trend, with about 58% of the workforce now working remotely all or some of the time. Importantly, about two-thirds of workers want to continue to work remotely for the foreseeable future.

But what effect has this seismic shift had on productivity? How can managers and business owners accurately measure and analyze the productivity and performance of remote employees? Keep reading to find out.

Are Remote Employees Less Productive?

Employers across all industries face new challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the current work-from-home environment. Businesses and HR departments have had to adjust their interviewing and hiring, onboarding and training, and management practices to accommodate this rapidly evolving landscape. 

So how has all this impacted productivity? The good news is that generally, it hasn’t. While the way we work has changed fundamentally, in a recent survey, an astonishing 94% of employers reported that the objective productivity of their remote workers has remained the same or increased.

While productivity shows no overall decline, as many expected it would, there are important shifts taking place. For example, the average remote worker today spends about three additional hours actively working than they used to, which raises concerns about the possibility of burnout. It’s also important to note that some people are more suited to remote work than others, and how you manage your employees should be informed by their unique traits and skills.

How to Encourage Productivity In A Work-From-Home Environment

When managing employees, transparency and communication are key. This goes for all work environments, but it’s especially important when it comes to remote workers. While those working from home are likely to expect more flexibility in terms of when and how they work, it’s important to set clear, realistic, and strict rules when it comes to goals and deadlines.

man sitting in front of computer screen

Employers across all industries face new challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the current work-from-home environment. Businesses and HR departments have had to adjust their interviewing and hiring, onboarding and training, and management practices to accommodate this rapidly evolving landscape. 

So how has all this impacted productivity? The good news is that generally, it hasn’t. While the way we work has changed fundamentally, in a recent survey, an astonishing 94% of employers reported that the objective productivity of their remote workers has remained the same or increased.

While productivity shows no overall decline, as many expected it would, there are important shifts taking place. For example, the average remote worker today spends about three additional hours actively working than they used to, which raises concerns about the possibility of burnout. It’s also important to note that some people are more suited to remote work than others, and how you manage your employees should be informed by their unique traits and skills.

How to Encourage Productivity In A Work-From-Home Environment

When managing employees, transparency and communication are key. This goes for all work environments, but it’s especially important when it comes to remote workers. While those working from home are likely to expect more flexibility in terms of when and how they work, it’s important to set clear, realistic, and strict rules when it comes to goals and deadlines.

Maintain a results-oriented culture. While channels of communication and the way employees engage with coworkers and clients may shift to accommodate the new remote environment, it’s important to make it clear that the expectation that individuals and teams get their work done well and on time is unchanged.

Here are some valuable strategies to encourage a culture of productivity and results among remote workers:

  • Keep teams together.
  • Schedule morning meetings to encourage reasonable start times.
  • Use collaborative apps to facilitate effective communication.
  • Break large tasks into smaller, more manageable ones.
  • Encourage regular check-ins.
  • Set clear goals and deadlines.
  • Make it clear how you plan to evaluate productivity.
  • Encourage employees to speak up with suggestions and concerns.
piece of paper with a bargraph and a blue ball point pen

How to Measure and Evaluate Remote Productivity

To ensure your efforts to encourage productivity among remote workers are effective, you need to accurately measure this productivity. Here are some tried and true methods of evaluating remote productivity:

  1. Think in terms of results: While tracking the hours each employee works can generate valuable data, a better measure of a worker’s productivity is what they have to show for it; simply put, productive employees get things done. Track tasks, not time.
  2. Track deadlines: A major aspect of an employee’s productivity is their ability to meet a set goal or deadline. Formalize the process of setting deadlines and keep track of when they’re met and when they’re missed. Shared calendar apps are great for this purpose.
  3. Request progress reports: While results should be your primary focus, regular progress reports are essential to capturing the details when it comes to productivity. Tracking the progress of individual projects is especially important in team-structured environments, since it’s important to avoid situations in which one employee is taking on the bulk of the work while others avoid responsibility.
  4. Implement a formal review process: Through an annual, biannual, or even monthly review process, ask your employees to provide examples of their most important accomplishments and contributions and state what they learned, their future goals for improvement, and what they need from management to meet those goals.
  5. Use productivity-tracking software: To streamline and automate the productivity-measuring process and avoid having to make guesses, use one of the many great productivity-tracking apps designed for businesses.

As you carefully track, measure, and analyze the productivity of your workforce, also remember the importance of conducting more in-depth and qualitative remote performance reviews. The “howand “why” of productivity is just as important as the “how much.” Yet, it is important to be somewhat flexible with your remote workforce, especially through the pandemic. This includes Childcare, online schooling, family illness due to COVID, etc.

Do you need help measuring the productivity of remote employees?

Recruiting, HR, and management strategies are shifting in the new remote business landscape. If you need help responding to these new challenges and implementing new practices and procedures to measure the productivity of your remote workforce, we’re here to help. 

Rush Recruiting and HR has made it our mission to face the challenges and shifts brought on by COVID-19 head-on. We specialize in helping businesses develop and maintain strong, productive, and loyal remote employees by providing essential HR services designed for the future.
Need help recruiting, hiring, onboarding, or training employees? Looking to boost your performance management, productivity tracking, and employee review practices? Reach out online or call us at (503) 481-1285 to let us know how we can help!

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