The Latest Guide to Measuring Remote Worker Productivity

Remote and hybrid working are the main keywords for all recruitment drives in 2022. Any job post without these keywords receives fewer applicants and views. It has also become a standard model for enterprises sailing through the pandemic. However, many organizations are increasingly worried about the limited visibility into remote employees’ productivity. To accurately measure remote worker productivity, HR leaders should first decide why productivity measurement is essential and choose an appropriate set of metrics.

Due to reduced in-person interactions with important stakeholders, business leaders are concerned that culture and productivity may be impacted, and they rightfully are. A recent study has highlighted that these reduced in-person interactions have reduced synchronous communications (real-time communications, such as phone calls) and increased asynchronous communications (delayed time communications, such as email), making it difficult for employees to acquire and share information across the work network.

Given the concern over employee productivity, some organizations are turning to new technologies to track employee productivity. The correct term to be used here would be employee surveillance, which often intrudes on employees’ privacy to capture data such as screen usage and non-work-related internet searches, including webcam surveillance. These kinds of management can be easily mishandled and erode employees’ trust in the organization—this type of productivity monitoring technology borders legitimate legal and privacy concerns. In addition, productivity is a highly context-specific concept and is hard to measure only through traditional metrics.

To rise to this challenge and help organizations effectively measure employee productivity, HR leaders must collaborate with organizational leaders to identify and articulate the rationale for measuring productivity. Then, they can work together to implement the relevant metrics and use cases that provide context for employees.

Identify the Purpose for Measuring Employee Productivity

By defining and communicating the rationale of measuring productivity, HR leaders can help business leaders to move past wanting to track productivity on the simple basis of employees not meeting expectations. One way that HR leaders can do this is by linking employee productivity metrics to the organizational objective. 

Measuring Productivity: Productivity Outcome Metrics

Productivity outcome metrics measure the results of employees’ work over time. One thing to note, however, is that although productivity outcome metrics can be used to set team and individual goals, productivity outcomes are not the same as performance outcomes. These metrics focus only on productivity, ignoring the quality and impact of the work. Isaac Song has listed the common productivity metrics across several departments as a start.

DepartmentExamples of Productivity Metrics
Sales– New contract
– Revenue per sales person
– Number of lead calls made
Customer Service– Average customer handling time
– Call case logged
– Number of emails replied
Programmer– Lines of code per day
– How many commits that did not break stuff were pushed to prod.
– Number of bugs resolved vs created 
Recruiter– Time to fill
– Number of resumes submitted for reviews
– Number of interviews arranged
some examples of measuring productivity metrics.

Why Productivity Outcome metrics?

Productivity outcome is about behaviours within an employee’s locus of responsibility (Read here if you are interested). Performance definitions focus on behaviours instead of outcomes, which is the precursor to high productivity in the workplace. On the other hand, outcomes partially result from an employee’s performance and other external influences. Simply stating that an employee engaged in work performance will yield the expected outcome is a gross understatement. Other factors determine outcomes more than just employees’ behaviours and actions. If the performance study focuses on outcomes, the employee will choose the path of least resistance to achieve the outcome. If specific critical behaviour is not performed, it could harm the organization from a process design perspective.

Conclusion

HR Leaders act as the custodians of employee productivity in an organization and unlock the value by partnering with business leaders to decide how and why to measure productivity. Therefore, HR leaders must not erode employees’ trust in the organization and address all legal and privacy considerations.

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