The pandemic has changed the way we work, and many companies are now facing the challenge of measuring and improving productivity in the remote work era. But what does productivity mean, and how can we measure it effectively?
Productivity is not about how much time or effort workers put in, but about what they produce and how it aligns with the company’s goals. As Tim Harford, author of How to Make the World Add Up, writes: “Productivity is about doing more of what matters, and less of what doesn’t.”
However, many companies are not measuring productivity correctly or consistently. According to a Slack survey of 18,000 knowledge workers, including managers, most are measuring what workers put in, rather than what they put out. This leads to workers spending a third of their time “performing” work — that is, making an effort to look like they’re working rather than actually working.
Some companies are also calling workers back to the office in the name of productivity, but they are not considering the benefits of remote work for some workers and some tasks. Remote work can increase flexibility, autonomy, creativity, and satisfaction for workers, as well as reduce costs and environmental impact for companies. As John Boitnott, a digital media consultant and writer, argues: “Remote work can be a win-win situation for both employers and employees if done right.”
So how can we measure and improve productivity in the remote work era? Here are some tips from experts:
- Define clear and measurable goals and outcomes for each worker and team, and align them with the company’s vision and strategy. As Sarah K. White, a senior writer at CIO.com, advises: “Focus on outcomes rather than hours worked or tasks completed.”
- Use data and feedback to track progress and performance, and adjust goals and strategies as needed. As Katie Burke, chief people officer at HubSpot, says: “We’re trying to use data to inform our decisions rather than dictate them.”
- Communicate regularly and effectively with workers and teams, using various channels and tools. As Boitnott suggests: “Use video conferencing, instant messaging, email, phone calls and project management software to keep everyone on the same page.”
- Empower workers to choose the best work environment and schedule for their needs and preferences, as long as they meet their goals and outcomes. As White writes: “Allow employees to work when they are most productive, whether that’s early in the morning or late at night.”
- Support workers’ well-being and mental health, and encourage them to take breaks and disconnect from work. As Harford notes: “Working less might produce more — not just because we have more time to rest and recharge, but also because we might use our working hours more wisely.”
By following these tips, you can measure and improve your productivity in the remote work era, and enjoy the benefits of working remotely or hybridly.