Productivity in a remote work team: what data should we measure

Find out how to measure the productivity and performance of your employees through the use of technological tools and the establishment of appropriate KPIs.

Juan Salas

Juan Salas

Remote and face-to-face work represent two different ways of working. While the first is based on productivity and results, the second advocates the presence and establishment of certain hours.

KPIs (or management indicators) have always been important to measure individual and collective performance in organizations; With the advent of remote work, some of the traditional KPIs have lost relevance in today's work and economic environments.

If the correct metrics are not used, it will be difficult to know how the people in our teams are doing, which will impact the productivity and business development of our companies.

Knowing which metrics and practices to focus on is key to running a successful remote team or business. Companies that are not used to working in a remote environment often make mistakes by not having set up their measurements correctly.

More traditional companies blame remote work for their failures, refusing to understand that perhaps one of the reasons for their poor performance is due to their lack of understanding of how to work successfully remotely.

In a remote company, the most important thing is to properly measure productivity and not present; the latter is a metric that traditional companies tend to take into account, and therein lies one of their biggest mistakes, since relying on it prevents them from making the transition to remote work successfully.

If employees aren't thriving remotely, maybe it's time to look at accountability and leadership strategies, rather than assuming it's a problem that will be solved by sending them back to the office. One would have to ask if we have established an organizational model for remote work or if we continue to cling to the face-to-face model, even at a distance.

According to the firm McKinsey, new advances in people analysis facilitate the development of their skills and allow human resources teams (for its acronym in English, HR) to more easily detect opportunities for staff improvement, which can increase business productivity by 25%.

Collecting this data can help HR teams provide strategic guidance that enables companies to move toward effective remote work management, but it all has to start with measuring the right data.

Remote work is about working smart not hard.

So, what data should we measure on remote teams?

Some KPIs are simple and specific to the role of a function. For example, employees on a sales team may be evaluated based on monthly sales growth; meanwhile, employees of an IT team can report on help desk resolution rates, server downtime, or network availability.

These management indicators help HR teams assess employee productivity and performance when working remotely.

The KPIs must be part of the "SMART" objectives, which means that they are specific (Specific), measurable (Measurable), achievable (Achievable), relatable (Realistic), and limited in time (Time-Bound):

SMART goals are the concrete steps of a well-crafted strategy to achieve larger goals and help companies effectively measure the performance of each employee or specific area of ​​work.

While KPIs need to be tailored to each specific department, every employee in a remote company can benefit from two key KPIs: self-discipline and effective communication.

According to the Forbes Human Resources Council, self-discipline “is the ability to work independently” and is analyzed by measuring an employee's ability to complete a specific task in an allotted time frame.

A simple way to measure self-discipline is to quantify how many tasks an employee completes in a specific time, omitting tasks where the delay was beyond the employee's control.

“Tasks” could be defined as creating a presentation for a client, writing new marketing materials, updating a department budget, etc.

Measuring self-discipline can help us identify employees who are struggling with performance and who may be at risk of missing important quarterly or annual goals.

On the other hand, the effectiveness of communication “is the ability of an employee to communicate effectively with co-workers, customers, partners or suppliers”.

Although this aspect may seem subjective, it is possible to measure the communication skills of a collaborator based on their role and their responsibilities.

For example, if an employee has a weekly meeting, we might look at whether they send the agenda ahead of time; if you are responsible for managing a customer relationship, we may review whether you respond to emails or calls promptly; if your messages are clear and concise; if you have spelling or grammatical errors, etc.

Business consultant and professor Peter Drucker once said, "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it." In other words, if we cannot manage our tasks and objectives, it is impossible to bring that knowledge to the workforce and guarantee its effectiveness, much less to those employees who are out of the line of sight of their supervisors.

Of course, optimizing employee performance requires more than just analyzing and improving your KPIs. While studying the right data will help us identify employees who require additional support, HR managers and staff must be able to deliver timely, meaningful, and actionable feedback.

As the business world is impacted by more frequent transformations, our ability to establish real-time relationships with our collaborators has never been more necessary.

Although the meetings must highlight the pending tasks or the objectives to be achieved for the week, we must prevent these from becoming tedious summaries of performance and that they become proactive spaces for feedback, performance analysis, and training.

If we know how to take advantage of these meetings, we will be able to turn each meeting into an opportunity to better integrate remote teams and thus get more out of the performance of collaborators, helping them feel greater confidence in themselves and in the company, which will increase the productive capacities of them and our companies.