In these uncertain times, companies and individuals are compelled to accept that change is the only constant. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses adapted their core processes to stay afloat and moved their entire workforce online.

But working remotely can be challenging. Distractions like household chores, pets, kids and a faulty internet connection can drain an employee’s focus, especially when they are already disengaged or stressed because of the pandemic.

While some companies have adopted a hybrid work model, encouraging their workforce to divide their time in the office and home, many businesses still don’t have a re-entry strategy. They plan to return to the office only when it is proven to be safe.

Fortunately, it has been widely reported that remote work drives productivity both productivity and talent retention, with 82% of businesses reporting that remote work is a powerful way to retain top talent, according to a recent survey.

However, managers across teams are still required to monitor what their employees are doing, ensuring they are working toward accomplishing organizational goals. Here are seven tips for measuring the productivity of remote employees:

1. Implement an Internal Feedback Process

This is a valuable technique in measuring the productivity of remote workers. Make it mandatory for them to fill out brief surveys in which they share honest opinions about their colleagues’ performance and attitude toward work, including what they think are the strengths and weaknesses of their team members.

The survey becomes an integral part of the remote employee’s performance evaluation — leading to rewards or disciplinary action — because the feedback is given anonymously about a specific person, so it is unfiltered and pure.

2. Have Set Key Performance Indicators in Place

When employees know their deliverables well, they feel more accountable and more engaged. Therefore, set five to 10 custom key performance indicators (KPIs) for each employee, depending on their scope of work and designation.

For instance, a common KPI for a social media manager could be to increase monthly followers by 30. On the other hand, a salesperson might be tasked with closing 20 sales a quarter.

Similarly, you could measure the performance of a customer support team based on the decrease in average response team in a month. Setting KPIs can help you calculate the output of your employees — regardless of where they work from — and identify those who are underperforming.

3. Always Communicate Clearly

Both managers and team members must be kept in the loop regarding setting expectations and evaluating them. If an employee is underperforming, having one-on-one interactions with them will help determine the cause of the problem and how to solve it.

Therefore, leverage collaboration tools to aid in easy communication and collaboration between team members any time of the day.

Some companies implement core hours — three-hour blocks, for example — when all employees should be available, regardless of their time zone. Core hours allow employees to discuss important matters and take prompt action without worrying about who is available and who is not. Meetings should be efficient and start and end on time.

4. Invest in Technology to Track Time and Productivity

With your employees working remotely, you must invest in a tool that helps them track their tasks, offer training and knowledge bases and communicate with each other.

People are naturally resistant to change, and they often do not adopt a new technology or way of working unless it is necessary. And even if they do, they may not be happy about it, unless they can quickly and easily adopt it and enjoy its benefits.

Therefore, with so many tools at your disposal, be sure to choose one that best suits your business requirements and helps you support change management.

Implement a project management tool that not only helps your team but also enables you to know what each team member is working on, how much time they are spending on each task and how productive they are despite these turbulence in times.

Because you cannot physically communicate with your remote team, set reminders for overworked employees to take a break and care for their mental health.

Given the complexity of the platform, you can gain insight into whether the team can meet targets on time, how productive it is in general and the typical networking trends in the business. The data helps address complex business challenges related to productivity issues.

5. Create Milestones for Each Assigned Task

Smaller tasks are easier to accomplish (and a lot less overwhelming) than bigger ones. When you break down a massive project into chunks (or milestones), it becomes easier to track them.

Moreover, it is less tedious for employees to finish the job. They can mark and report their progress correctly instead of waiting until the end. Milestone reporting shines a light on what each team member is doing, especially when the team is dispersed geographically.

It’s important to organize tasks with clearly defined start, middle and endpoints. This enables the company to judge the output and quality of work delivered by their remote employees as they have clear instruction.

6. Implement a Robust Reporting Structure

Timely reports can help you stay on top of your employees without micromanaging them. Based on the job roles and the nature of your business, you can ask your remote employees to share daily, weekly and/or monthly job reports.

Keep the report short and to the point and ensure that the reporting helps you understand how much time each employee is spending on each task. In case of any discrepancies, you can investigate the cause and fix it to boost productivity.

Over to You

Even though remote teams can be more productive, it is worth monitoring how they approach work to ensure the maximum business outcome. But you must do it in a way that is meaningful to your company and makes your remote employees feel good about themselves. These tips are a step in that direction.

Whether your plans are long term or short, it is not wrong to track the progress of your remote team but doing it the right way will work in favor of your company. After all, all you want from your employees is to be productive. Measuring that without being a micromanager can help them stay on track conveniently.