Whether you already work in a remote environment or plan to shift your team’s workflow toward it in the near future, setting up a tangible, objective, and attainable KPIs is of utmost importance. According to Small Biz Trends, 73% of teams are expected to shift to remote work conditions by 2028, with 78% of employees stating that they would be prepared to take a 5-20% pay cut in order to have the ability to work remotely.
According to Your Best Digs, 21% of remote workers stated that meaningful collaboration is one of the main missing components of working remotely, while 21% also stated that loneliness is a major detriment to opting for a work-at-home career.
This makes it important for team leads and project managers to facilitate a productive remote work environment and still deliver a quality result for their business and clients despite a more flexible workflow. With that said, let’s take a look at what the right set of KPIs can do for your team, as well as some of the guidelines and tips which will help you define the right set of metrics for your remote work going forward.
The Basics of KPIs and their Importance
Let’s start by discussing the terminology in brief details before we dive into what remote work and KPIs have in common. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are a set of goals that are associated with development projects, day-to-day office activities and any form of professional or personal work. They act as indicators of progress and are related to smaller activities that add up to the final developed product.
“The right set of KPIs will allow your individual employees to objectively assess and contribute to your business’ projects without explicit micromanagement or supervision. KPIs should always be realistic and measurable, meaning that contributing to their fulfillment will add to the sense of teamwork and collaboration.”Justin Miles, Head of HR at Studicus
Whether you choose to work with collaboration platforms such as Asana or Trello or opt for DIY options such as Google Sheets, KPIs should find their way into your remote workflow in some capacity. KPIs which are vague and unclear will confuse team members and leave them with very little satisfaction or motivation to press on. However, properly set up KPIs can add a plethora of advantages to your project’s development and business’ reputation as a whole, including the following:
● Monitoring of tangible, empiric development milestones which correlate with the final product
● Project’s development overview for your team and others in the company
● Improved decision-making, project modification and reevaluation capabilities
● Streamlined team performance evaluation and feedback assessment
● Higher team motivation which correlates with the final product’s quality and delivery time
Winning KPI Solutions for Remote Work Environment
One of the most important aspects of setting up reliable KPIs for your remote work team is to keep things simple and straightforward. Depending on the type of project you develop and the composition of your team, not everyone will be familiar with niche lingo or terminology.
In that aspect, it’s best to keep your KPIs in the realm of everyday wording and phrases which anyone (including outside consultants) can understand. Your KPIs should also always be followed by numeric values indicating the amount of said KPI you expect to see as a team leader and by which time you hope it will manifest. Avoid sentence-long KPIs with unclear deliverables and your remote team will have a much easier time contributing to those goals wherever they are. Here is an example of a bad KPI for your remote team members: “Implement new customer management protocols by June 2019.” This is not a KPI. It is a milestone. It does not divide this objective into measurable segments with expected outcomes.
Here is an example of a solid, understandable KPI. “Implement the new customer management protocols to achieve a 30% increase in customer satisfaction. This increase will be measured by follow-up surveys with customers who have been served between January and June 2019.” Now you have established a timeframe; you have placed a numeric value/metric and the method of measurement. This KPI is simply worded, and your remote customer service staff understands what it needs to accomplish. Your other task is to create the survey and inform them that they are to use it following each customer service interaction in order to gather the data you need to determine successful performance.
Individualization over Generalization
No matter what type of project you develop, chances are that individual team members will have varying skillsets and backgrounds. With that said, KPIs should also reflect their professional backgrounds in terms of what types of deliverables should be worked on in the near future.
“No matter how well-adjusted and comfortable your team might be, each member will likely want to contribute to the project in unique, profession-centric ways. It’s important then to facilitate such contributions with metrics that are suitable for individual persons on your team, thus allowing each member to shine in their own way and be content with it.”Teresa Quinn, Head of Content Department at WoWGrade
For example, if you have a PR specialist and a content creator on board, you can create both PR related and content related KPIs without worry. Instructing your team members to contribute to whichever KPIs suit their backgrounds and interests will allow for a collaborative remote work environment to take shape without your supervision.
No matter how diverse or urgent your project deadlines may be, the KPIs you set out for your remote team should always be visible to everyone. This will ensure that everyone is up-to-date on current developments and has an opportunity to add valuable feedback to their colleagues on time.
Private KPIs will only alienate team members amongst each other and create a low-motivation environment which might be difficult to alleviate later on. Team-wide KPI tracking will also allow the team to remain transparent and collaborative no matter how specific or urgent certain KPIs may be.
Motivation through R&R
Despite the fact that individuals work in a remote environment without day-to-day office interactions, they would still like to be rewarded for their performance from time to time. You can increase your team’s motivation and productivity by introducing a rudimentary Reward & Recognition (R&R) system into the work environment.
Individuals who perform beyond the expected KPIs (200 emails sent instead of 150, for example) should be highlighted and rewarded with certain incentives for everyone on the team to see. Rewards such as Amazon Gift Cards, Netflix subscription coupons, etc. can be used to motivate individuals into giving it their best week after week.
Scheduled Check-Ins & Feedback
Even though remote workers are adults with professional experience and responsibility, scheduled remote check-ins and team chats should be standardized. This will ensure that everyone on the team contributes to his or her KPIs on a regular basis with the looming check-in deadline on the horizon.
“Arranging for your remote team to have scheduled online meetings in strict intervals will always be beneficial for their bottom-line performance. Coupled with the development deadlines, such a step can ensure that everyone on the team is actively motivated to perform their remote work duties on a daily basis.”Samantha Brook, HR Specialist at Pick the Writer
Evaluation & Rethinking
Lastly, it should be noted that KPIs are never set in stone when it comes to their role in a remote work environment. KPIs which are found to be irrelevant, confusing, or otherwise don’t contribute to the end product’s development should be reevaluated or outright eliminated.
It’s worth mentioning that KPIs are not a necessary tool in any remote work environment – they are however a valuable addition which can increase a team’s productivity and motivation to work together. Don’t rely on KPIs as an omnipotent tool in your arsenal and instead as a helpful hand in your collaborative and development efforts.
Depending on the complexity of your projects and how to spread out your team is in regards to time zones and offline obligations, KPIs might just be the thing you need to kickstart their productivity. Make sure to develop a KPI system with your team’s suggestions and feedback into consideration since they will be the ones who actively pursue their fulfillment on a daily basis. Before you know it, you will have found a system that works both for you as a project lead and individual members you work with, allowing your projects to flourish and develop organically as a result.