How do you know your remote employees are working?\nIf you’re worried about how much your remote team is getting done, you’re not alone. A lot of managers are concerned that working from home will cause a drop in productivity. According to a recent survey on remote work, 20.75% of businesses anticipate that remote work will hurt their team’s future productivity.\nThis is a common mindset right now. The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked an explosion in remote work. Thousands of teams are working from home for the first time, and remaining productive is harder and more important than ever.\nGoing remote can be tough. Distractions like kids, pets, and household chores can drain a person’s focus. Especially when employees are already stressed or disengaged, remote worker accountability is a valid concern.\nWith so many people working remotely for the first time, remote productivity monitoring can help teams adjust. Some teams plan to return to the office when it’s safe. Some teams are looking for a longer term remote commitment.\nWhether your plans are short term or long, it’s wise to keep track of how your team is doing. Be careful, though. Your efforts to monitor your team can actually hurt productivity. Nobody likes being micromanaged.\nYour people probably don’t need constant oversight to get things done. You might not know this, but remote workers actually have a productivity advantage. Studies have shown that remote teams are 13% to 35% more productive. The Social Security Administration has reduced their backlog 11% since they instituted remote work in response to the pandemic.\n Working remotely has boosted productivity at the Social Security Administration. Claims are processed faster and calls are answered sooner. Their backlog of pending cases has reduced by 11%! \nWant to skip ahead? Here’s what we’ll discuss in this article. Click here to go directly to that section.\n\nHow to create a culture of productivity\nHow to measure the productivity of your remote team\nKPIs for remote workers\nHow remote companies approach productivity tracking\n\nEight ways to create a culture of productivity\nThe most successful remote teams build performance into their cultures. It’s not about showing up and clocking in on time every day. It’s about getting it done, no matter when or how you work.\n\nStart with the right foundation.\nUse our free template to create your remote work policy.\n\n\n\n\nBuilding a remote culture is a long-term project. Cultures come from actions, not mission statements.\nHere are some steps to make sure measuring productivity is actually productive and easy.\n1: Hire the right people\nWhen you hire people in the office, you look for a good cultural fit. Your team will spend a lot of time around each other and it’s important that they get along.\nHiring for remote positions requires a cultural fit, too. Some people struggle when working from home. Look for these traits in a great remote candidate:\n\nAccountability: they take responsibility for their own work and consistently meet deadlines\nSelf discipline: they’re good at staying on task without needing a reminder\nIntegrity: they do what they say they’re going to do\nExperience with remote work: they’re familiar and comfortable with working from home\n\nPeople who are good at written communication have an advantage with remote work. For those who aren’t great at it, video conferencing is a good solution.\n Cultures come from actions, not mission statements. \n2: Document all of your processes\nBuilding a resource library is a good idea for every team. Invest that time now. You’ll be glad you did.\nFor remote teams, good documentation gets rid of a potential roadblock: you. Your team can find answers for themselves without waiting for you. That means they can work whenever they’re most productive, even if you’re not around.\nOnboarding is much easier with well-documented processes, too. New team members start producing good work faster, and it takes less effort from you.\nStore your documentation where it can easily be shared and referenced by the right people. You can use Dropbox, Google Drive, or an internal shared drive.\nJust make sure that everything is organized and labeled clearly so that you can find it when you need it.\n Creating good documentation gets rid of a big roadblock: YOU. \n3: Establish a good work from home policy\nClarify your work from home policy to make everyone feel more comfortable. Especially during the pandemic, there’s already enough uncertainty. Create guidelines around remote work so your team has one less thing to wonder about.\n\nYour remote work policy tells your team when and how they can work from home. List any requirements like minimum internet speed, equipment needs, or security measures.\nIt’s a good idea to mention performance expectations. These might vary in different circumstances. For example, you may relax deadlines a little for a team member who is working from home instead of taking a sick day.\n4: Stay transparent\nIt’s harder to build trust with a remote team. Creating relationships takes more effort because there are fewer chance meetings and office chats.\nYour team may also feel disconnected from the big picture.\nThey’re not around while you’re working on strategy, and they only hear about decisions once they’ve already been made. That lack of communication makes your team feel undervalued.\nTransparency might be hard, but it’s a good policy. It shows that you value your team. It also sets the precedent for open communication.\nThis means talking about the good news and the bad. The time when it’s hardest to be honest are the moments that build respect and trust with your people. Read more about how to be a transparent leader here.\n Transparency may be hard, but it shows that you value your team. The moments when it’s hardest to be honest are the ones that build respect and trust. \n5: Encourage balance and health\nRemote work can and should be flexible. Allow your employees to find their own balance.\nIf you knew work would be completed more efficiently and with better quality, would you care what time it was done?\nFocus on productivity instead of availability during specific hours. Set deadlines and empower your team to get work done whenever it makes the most sense.\nFlexibility gives you and your team the opportunity to focus on your physical and mental health in addition to your work.\n Remote work can and should be flexible. \nAs you first transition to remote work, your team will hesitate to take advantage of the increased flexibility.\nKeep encouraging them to prioritize their health and set the example by doing the same. You can get more out of your workday with simple practices like these:\n\nWork when you feel the most creative, even if that’s early in the morning or late in the evening\nIf you feel overwhelmed or frustrated, stop work and take a walk around the neighborhood\nTake your lunch break at whatever time you start to lose focus, even if that’s not “lunchtime”\nPlan your work day around the non-work things that matter to you. Pause work for a mid-morning exercise class or to get your kids off the schoolbus in the afternoon\n\n6: Define and share your company values\nIt’s easier to work as a team when you all know what you stand for.\nYour company values are the ethics and standards you live by. If there’s a conflict between what it says in your employee handbook and what you do as a leader, your actions are the truth.\n\nIntegrity is living up to the values you claim to have. Teams with integrity are aware of their company’s values and make decisions accordingly. It’s easy to trust your employees to get things done when they care about integrity.\nThis kind of culture starts with you. If you don’t act according to your company’s values, your team won’t, either. Set the example. Walk the talk and your team will follow.\n7: Recognize good work\n Train yourself to recognize and reward good work. \nAppreciation is important. While working from home, it’s easy to overlook employee recognition.\nCreate a habit of publicly praising good work. At Hubstaff, we have a Slack channel just for calling attention to our superstars, and we use it often.\nTrain yourself to recognize and reward good work.\nIt’s dangerously easy to fall into the habit of criticizing too much and complimenting too little, especially when you don’t see your team face-to-face.\n8: Leverage good tools\nThe right tools make all the difference.\nTake sewing as an example: sewing by hand is a skill that takes years of practice to develop. Sewing on a machine is much faster, and most people can get consistently good results with just a little practice.\nDon’t waste your team’s time by forcing them to work without the right tools.\n\nReplace manual timesheets with an easy time tracking tool like Hubstaff\nReplace daily check-in meetings with project management software like Hubstaff Tasks\nReplace Slack and email file sharing with a shared drive like Dropbox or Google Drive\nReplace version-controlled spreadsheets with collaborative tools like Google Sheets\n\nAutomate any simple, repetitive work and free up time to focus on higher priorities. The more stuff you automate, the more your team can get done.\nEmployee productivity tracking should free up your time to focus on top priorities. You still have the tools to assess remote work, but you also give your team the freedom to work in a way that’s productive for them.\nSee how powerful remote tracking tools can beTry Hubstaff free for 2 weeks.Start your trial\nTracking productivity can help your team stay focused. Make sure you’re tracking the right things, though.\nHow do you measure remote employee productivity?\nA lot of managers assume that if an employee is at her desk working, she’s productive.\nWrong.\nProductivity isn’t just working. It’s working on the right things and accomplishing important goals.\nChoose which work from home metrics you measure based on what’s most important to your company.\nAt Hubstaff, in addition to using our own productivity tracker, we measure the success of our team based on our core values:\n1. #own-it –\nHave pride in the work you do and own it from start to finish. Do what you say you’re gonna do without being nudged.\n2. #prove-it –\nKnow your numbers. Show evidence for decisions and proof later that they worked. This earns respect.\n3. #trim-it –\nWork efficiently, and recognize when time is being wasted. See opportunity for improvements. Don’t get bloated so that projects get slowed down by unneeded communication. Keep teams small.\n4. #solve-it –\nPresent solutions not problems, and think for yourself. You have permission to create. Creation adds value. Take charge and just get it done.\n5. #mean-it –\nShare opinions honestly and respectfully. Don’t be afraid to pick a side and defend it.\n6. #feel-it –\nStart with empathy. Not an assembly line. Take initiative and think with the customer in mind.\n7. #ship-it –\nAct with urgency and choose simple over complex. It’s better to release something early and iterate on it than perfect it first.\n8. #team-it –\nWe’re in this together and we’re all on the same team. Have each others backs and take time to appreciate each other.\nGiven our team goals, we measure productivity and performance in these categories:\n\nOwnership\nEfficiency\nInitiative\nExpertise and Hubstaff knowledge\nCommunication\n\nAll of this is communicated clearly and often to our team members. Everyone knows what is expected, so it’s much easier to meet our remote productivity goals.\nKPIs for remote workers\nOne way to measure productivity of employees working from home is to think about your key performance indicators (KPIs). Those metrics should tell you a lot about whether or not your team is getting stuff done.\nSetting KPIs depends a lot on the type of the team you have.\nKPIs might mean that your developer ships code on time. For your support team, you might measure customer satisfaction ratings or a certain number of resolved tickets. Your marketing team might be judged by the number of leads generated, or maybe by completion of milestones.\n\nWork with your team to decide what work from home metrics are the most important for each role. A good productivity metric is something that your employees can influence or control, and is directly tied to your business goals.\nHere are some of the work from home metrics you might want to track:\nFor customer support agents\n\nCustomer satisfaction scores\nNumber of repeat contacts or first call resolution\nAverage call time\nResolved tickets\nCall abandonment rates\n\nFor developers\n\nCode delivered\nCode churn\nTime to complete project\nAverage number of bug fixes required\nDeadlines hit or missed\n\nFor marketing team members\n\nCost per lead\nCost per acquisition\nNumber of leads generated\nCustomer retention rates\nCustomer lifetime value by channel or cohort\n\nFor field services\n\nJobs completed\nTimeliness\nCustomer satisfaction ratings\nFirst time fix rates\nBillable hour percentage\n\nFor sales representatives\n\nNumber of outbound calls or contacts\nConversion rate\nAverage customer value\nCustomer retention\nNumber of completed sales\nValue of portfolio\n\nKPIs for remote workers must be clear. Since your company culture and team goals are personal, work with your team to find the KPI that makes the most sense.\nYou shouldn’t have a huge number of key performance indicators for every role because they are the key indicators. Focus on the big metrics that move the needle.\nHow remote companies approach productivity tracking\nSuccessful teams approach remote management in different ways.\nSome operate completely on trust and don’t check in or measure anything unless there is an obvious problem. Others closely monitor their employees throughout the workday. There are even some companies that insist on having team members available via webcam.\nMost companies fall somewhere in the middle of that spectrum.\nWe asked business leaders to share their experiences with remote work. Here’s what they had to say:\nDaniel Ramsey, Founder and CEO at MyOutDesk\nWe schedule a huddle at the start of the day where each team member gives his or her individual goal and action plan. This sets the tone for the rest of the shift. Ideally, every team huddle is done via Zoom, and all participants are expected to be on video wearing appropriate attire for a business meeting. It changes the attitude.\nShould we need to review productivity by the hour or minute, we use our tracking system where we can generate a full report of websites visited, length of stay on a specific page, and log-ins.\nSam Maley, Head of Growth at Bailey & Associates\nWe have found that when tracking the productivity of remote staff, there is no substitute for real-time screen tracking, either through screenshots or screen recording.\nSometimes projects have unexpected bottlenecks that remote workers have difficulty communicating back to managers. This can lead to believing that your team member is not putting the effort in, even when there are actually external problems that need to be solved.\nPaul Ronto, CMO and Content Director at RunRepeat\nSurprise surprise, we use Hubstaff! I am not answering this because we are Hubstaff users, but because I think remote time tracking is an issue people struggle with.\nMy suggestion is to find an online time tracking tool to track your employees, something that’s easy and not intrusive. You have to make time tracking simple. Otherwise, it gets in the way and people won’t use it. So my suggestion would be to use a tool that allows you to track overall time and project-based effort.\nSam Williamson, owner at CBDiablo\nWe understand that our remote workers are in some difficult situations right now, with a few of them at home with their kids or with a partner who is out of work.\nWe don’t expect them to be working every day, 9-5 right now, it’s just not realistic. So instead of tracking the time that our remote workers are logging, at the moment we’re focusing on their tasks and their progress towards completing them. As long as they’re progressing towards completing their tasks, we don’t mind how long it takes them.\nMike Falahee, owner of Marygrove Awning Co.\nWorking remotely is a fairly new experience for us as a company, but my team has shown great commitment and applied themselves to this new way of working. It is a lot different from our normal work placement where we meet and greet customers personally.\nAs our business is a family run operation, it’s quite easy for me to keep a track of everyone’s progress. However, keeping track of our remote staff has been a little different. What I try to do is to give out a daily forecast on what I would like to be done. At the end of each day, I ask my staff to inform me on their progress.\nDan Bailey, President of WikiLawn Lawn Care\nWe fall somewhere on the middle of the spectrum, as we’ve had some remote employees for years now, but we’re definitely dealing with challenges now that everyone is remote.\nWe prefer not to use any intrusive software to monitor productivity. Everyone’s stressed enough as it is. So long as deadlines are being met and work is getting done, I’m not going to be counting every little aspect of it.\nThat said, we do need some way to track what’s getting done, just to make sure we’re meeting milestones and to ensure tasks aren’t assigned to an employee when they’ve already been completed. We use Trello for this. It gives us a way to map out tasks, including any necessary sub-tasks and designations for said tasks, then assign them appropriately.\nDavid Lynch, Content Lead at Payette Forward, Inc.\nOur company was working remotely prior to the coronavirus pandemic, so we have lots of experience with remote work.\nWe primarily use time tracking software to measure productivity for remote workers. We use other web tools like Trello and Slack to make sure everyone knows what they’re working on and has a quick way to get in contact with one another.\nJason Davis, CEO at Inspire360\nWe are new to remote-work and track productivity through a task system. Without a task system, it’s incredibly difficult to know where employees are spending their time and therefore, it’s hard to manage them.\nWith a task system, the task creator adds in the deliverables and the staff member assigned to the task then estimates the time it will take to complete at the beginning, puts the ticket into “active” when completing it, and then sets it to “ready to test” when complete. All communication about that task\/project is on the task page so that everyone can be on the same page.