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Rethinking How You Measure Productivity

There's nothing like working remotely to challenge entire sets of assumptions. For many people in the workforce, it's the time spent in the office or at meetings that's the primary metric for productivity - but with a remote work setup, it's impossible for managers to know when employees are at a desk or on calls.

Furthermore, many employees won't have the latitude to spend an unbroken eight-plus hours at work right now, as some may be also juggling home schooling and partners also trying to use home technology to get work done.

To move your team forward with the collaboration, trust, and purpose needed to maintain productivity, you as an employer might need to reconsider how you measure productivity. That's true both during this time in quarantine and beyond, should remote work become a resource you want to add to your toolkit.

Robin Mack, CEO of Mack Global, suggests that managers set expectations and measure results in the same way a professor might. When assigning a project or paper, a professor outlines the expected components: a word or page limit, the content that must be included, a certain number of sources, and so on. When a student turns in the completed project, they are graded on how well they met those expectations, and on whether or not they understood and completed the assignment within those parameters.

What a professor doesn't ask her students, Mack says, is where they were when they put in the work, or whether they worked on it during certain hours. In other words: having butts in seats isn't the most efficient way to measure productivity. It's the outcome that counts. But in order for employees to meet the expected outcome, managers and employees have to work together to set those expectations.

Elizabeth Frisch, founder and CXO of Movability member Thrival Company, says "schedule weekly check-ins, even if it’s just 15 or 20 minutes. In the check-in ask 'What are your goals for telework projects this week and are you having any issues?' Bottom line though, be very clear BEFORE they go home to telework how you evaluate their job performance. Data has shown that the highest performing, most successful organizations do not manage employees based on whether they can see them, but on clear metrics that demonstrate they are successful at their jobs whether you see them or not."

Frisch says that on a more long-term basis, managers can solicit feedback using surveys. Routine (at least annual surveys) can help managers analyze and address telework issues.

Are you an employer or an employee trying to adjust to remote work? Let us know your ideas, challenges, and thoughts about that and other telework topics!

Does your workplace need customized support to create a remote work structure? Movability can help! Contact Kate Harrington to learn more.