How to Assess the Productivity of Remote Workers

With clear metrics and goals in place, you will have a clear indicator of employees who are performing well no matter where they work.

A recent Global Workplace Analytics survey of employees who were forced to work remotely during COVID-19 found that 68 percent of them feel they are very successful working from home. As more and more organizations start to adapt to a long-term remote workforce here are some tips to help you understand how to assess the productivity of your remote workers:

1. Focus on the metrics that matter the most.

This tip is equally important for in-house staff as it is for remote workers. While tracking time spent working on tasks is useful for project analytics, it doesn’t tell the whole story. To assess the productivity of remote workers, you need to determine the most relevant metrics, key performance indicators (KPIs), and results you expect from them.

To help keep remote teams on track, it is best to limit the performance metrics used. Having clear targets and expectations gives remote employees a known goal they can work to achieve and continually improve on. Being overloaded with metrics can produce the opposite effect as the mission-critical metrics became less clear and competing priorities may emerge.

The exact metric that will be used will depend heavily on your organization’s industry, the department the employee works in, and the current priorities. Whatever it is, management and employees alike need to be acutely aware of the metrics that will be used to assess performance. Typically, the indicators of performance will be results-oriented, focusing more on the desired output rather than the input of each employee.

Examples of metrics/KPIs

  • Are clearly stated project/task goals, milestones, and deadlines being met?
  • How much progress is being made on high-priority targets?
  • Are employees meeting the goals they’ve set for themselves?
  • How many important tasks were completed in a timely manner?
  • Are the results of this period of time comparable to the previous period?

While the above examples can provide a baseline for measuring productivity, it’s crucial that other factors are taken into consideration. The metrics used will naturally ebb and flow to a reasonable degree—the important thing is that a baseline is established and any significant deviations are used as opportunities for leadership to check in on their people.

2. Make performance evaluation purposeful.

When employees are working remotely, there are far fewer opportunities for spur-of-the-moment check-ins. Evaluating the performance of remote workers requires purposeful planning to maintain ample connection with them and get insights into their current workflow. Transparency can be improved by providing remote employees with communication channels where they can demonstrate their efforts. This can include project management tools, planned check-in meetings, and dashboards that can clearly display their progress on the metrics they’ll be evaluated against.

Performance evaluation for remote workers can be improved by considering the insights of those who work closely with them. Ideally, teams with more than one remote employee have shared projects that the remote employees can collaborate on, so you can take advantage of their first-hand insights into their colleague’s effectiveness.

When the time comes for a formal evaluation, a periodical 360-degree review of individual employees that includes feedback from their colleagues, managers, and other relevant parties will help provide greater context for how effectively the employee is working within the organization.

3. Use shared project management tools.

In terms of keeping an eye on daily or weekly progress, consider implementing tools that can clearly communicate the current status on projects. Project management tools that are publicly available to the team aid accountability by providing everyone with clear indicators of how well each member of the team is advancing on his or her projects.

These tools are also valuable for addressing the communication gap that can emerge in a remote workforce as project status can be clearly seen without the need for a direct check-in each time.

Clear Metrics and Goals

Assessing the productivity and performance of remote workers is not all that much different from how you would evaluate your in-house staff. The important thing is to carefully plan your performance evaluations with respect to the communication and transparency challenges that are common in distributed teams. With clear metrics and goals in place, your remote workers and leadership will have a clear indicator of employees who are performing well no matter where they work.

Dale Strickland is a Marketing coordinator for CurrentWare, a remote workforce management software company with solutions for employee monitoring, USB device restriction, Web filtering, and remote power management. For more information about CurrentWare, contact its sales team for a free trial.