If you are anxious about managing a remote workforce, you are not alone. The collective conversation surrounding remote work has included many concerns by business owners about working remotely. Your workflow processes, communication systems, and leadership style are accustomed to in-person work. Going remote requires you to have to change what may be longstanding practices, which can definitely be uncomfortable. 

Nevertheless, the spread of COVID-19 has required most small businesses to have to shift to remote work. One of the main concerns you may have is if your team can stay productive while working outside of the office. Fortunately, large companies who have gone remote have actually seen an uptick in productivity

So, how can you ensure your teams follow the same path? Below we have laid out the productivity metrics you can take, as well as the tools you can use to track them when applicable. 

First…Understand The Indicators of Productivity 

Productivity is more than just monitoring overall output. There are a variety of elements that impact this concept. From engagement to burnout, productivity is determined by many indicators. Your goal is to determine what those are for your team and see how you can address them. You also have the added tasks of using digital tools to monitor these indicators since you can no longer meet with your team in person. So, creating a strategy to handle this new environment is crucial before you establish metrics. 

Related: Five Ways to Manage Communication and Collaboration With Suppliers During COVID-19

Work Time 

This metric is a pretty simple one, but it can tell you a lot. While you do not want to be a micromanager, you want to keep an eye on the average time it takes for employees to work throughout the day. If there is a substantial increase in work time, employees could be overloaded and experiencing burnout, if times are shorter, than they may not have enough to work on. So, use programs like Toggl, Harvest, TimeDoctor, or another application to monitor work hours. 

Overtime Hours 

You may still be meeting goals and bypassing your revenue projections. However, what is it taking to meet these benchmarks? How much does it cost you? This step is where measuring the amount of overtime your remote work employees are working comes into play. See how many hours your employees are working, and measure it against their wages and salary. You may be operating at a loss. Ultimately, this metric allows you to distribute work, or add another employee more efficiently. 

Project Completion Timelines 

“Time is money” is an old quote that still holds up. The longer it takes your team to complete a project, the higher the chance of bypassing budget projections. So, it is vital that you are monitoring how efficiently your remote team is working together to meet project milestones. This step is where a tool like Asana, Trello, or Basecamp comes in handy. These tools allow you to delegate tasks, track when they are completed, and set task dependencies. If teams are not meeting task deadlines, then it is time to see if timelines are too tight, or if you need to switch up the remote workflow. 

Monthly or Annual Turnover Rate 

Replacing employees is expensive. Not only is it a drain on your pockets, but it also means that valuable knowledge is walking out the door. If employees are constantly leaving, then it is going to cause your productivity to take a hit. So, choose a range of time, and divide the number of separations by the number of active employees. If the rate is high, then it is time to re-evaluable your hiring practices and see where the work environment can improve. 

BONUS: Be sure to have every departing employee participate in an exit interview so you can understand why they left. You can then compare their experiences to others to identify trends. 

Customer Satisfaction 

This metric represents the qualitative side of productivity monitoring. This information can be very valuable when combined with quantitative metrics. While general productivity formulas will provide revenue versus costs and time measurements, customer satisfaction can speak to the actual quality of the work being done by your team. Again, you cannot walk up to an employee and look at their work, so a customer satisfaction survey can help accomplish this. Use a program like SurveyMonkey or Zendesk to take in-depth customer reviews and satisfaction surveys. From there, you can qualitatively see if the quality of work matches the productivity. 

Revenue Per Employee

This is the quantitative portion of direct productivity metrics. This metric is where you can understand how effective your team is outside of the office. You can do this in a couple of ways. You can divide your company’s revenue by the total number of workers who help to earn it. 

However, a more robust measurement includes taking all the costs associated with hiring and development (salaries, benefits, training, equipment), and dividing it by the gross profit. While these measurements are not perfect, they allow you to get a sense of how effective your team is. If they are working at high output, with high customer satisfaction numbers, then it is likely that your employees are highly productive. 

Productivity Isn’t One Size Fits All 

As every business owner’s remote work situation looks different, the same is valid for productivity. Depending on the type of team you have, as well as the product you sell, different measurements may better serve your staff. However, it is crucial to understand that your team can still be successful, even if working remotely. Your mission is to lead them through the transition and monitor their progress to ensure they are meeting goals. The metrics above give you the tools you need to start to improve productivity and ensure your team thrives. 


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1 COMMENT

  1. Thanks for this article, Chanell. These are unprecedented times, but just because many more people are working remote than ever before doesn’t mean there needs to be a drop in productivity, and you highlight some great ways to keep an eye on that. Time tracking is particularly an interesting one, as apart from tracking hours worked, you can also track vacation and sick days, as well as easily pinpoint trends like employees who might be likely to burn out or simply aren’t as productive as their co-workers. We use a tool called BeeBole Timesheet at our company, and I can’t tell you the level of insight it brings my department (and company overall) on where we spend our time, and how that relates to overall profitability.

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