Unfortunately, many companies are calling their teams back to the office, citing remote employee productivity issues. While it’s a convincing argument, remote work actually offers a wide array of benefits.

For employees:

  • No commute
  • Fewer distractions
  • Improved work-life balance
  • Increased job flexibility
  • Increased creativity and motivation

For employers:

In this practical guide, we’ll equip you with valuable insights and actionable tips on how to efficiently track and enhance the productivity of your remote workforce, guiding you down the path toward success.

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Define clear goals and expectations

Before tracking remote employee productivity, you need to set clear goals and expectations. Take the time to let your employees know exactly what is expected of them. Your team must understand how they contribute to the business as a whole.

Dominic Monn, Founder and CEO of MentorCruise, uses a narrative-based approach for goal setting, “We use a narrative-based approach for goal setting. Employees articulate stories of their future achievements within the company, aligning their personal ambitions with our broader mission. This narrative framework makes expectations memorable and engaging, fostering a more profound commitment to their goals.”

Whatever your technique, setting clear goals and expectations helps align everyone on the team and ensures you’re all working towards the same goal. Providing this clarity will also help your team understand why they’re being asked to complete certain tasks and projects. 

Create a communication protocol 

Remote work requires extra effective communication.

“Maintaining effective communication with remote employees is crucial. We use collaboration software like Slack and Zoom to facilitate communication. Slack allows for real-time messaging and file sharing, while Zoom enables us to conduct regular video meetings. These meetings serve as opportunities to discuss ongoing projects, address questions or concerns, and maintain a sense of connection among team members. It’s essential to have both written and face-to-face communication to ensure clarity and alignment.” explains Tim White, Founder of milepro.com

Here are some things you should consider for your communication protocol:

  • What is your primary communication channel? It could be a project management tool or a communication app like Slack. It could also vary depending on the circumstance (i.e., email for client-facing communication, Slack for internal, etc.)
  • What are your communication expectations? Once you have decided on where you are communicating, you need to create guidelines for how communication should take place. These guidelines should also include frequency and standard lead times.
  • What formats of communication do you prefer? For example, you could utilize video and audio messages for feedback and briefs to help create clarity.

Examples of healthy communication protocols

Here are some examples of how other leaders communicate with their employees to stay connected and informed.

“Our communication strategy involves asynchronous’ voice memos’ that allow for deeper thought and reflection, reducing the immediacy of response while enhancing the quality of communication. This respects diverse work rhythms and supports thoughtful dialogue between team members.”Dominic Monn, Founder and CEO of MentorCruise

“Real-time communications are the backbone of an effective remote workforce. Three tools that have helped us manage our work needs are Slack, Clickup, and Google Workspace. With Slack, the team can communicate on the go, have regular meetings, clarify doubts, share notes as needed, and update each other on project developments. ClickUp has been an efficient project management tool that allows us to set time-bound targets and monitor everyday task developments. Google Workspace is an excellent tool and a repository for most of our content, work project engagement, meetings, and collaboration.”Katie Boudreau, HR and Operations Manager for CallerSmart Inc.

Use tracking software to gain real-time insights

“That which gets measured gets improved, so why not measure everything that you can? We want to improve everything we can, while minimizing blind spots. Data-driven decisions are at the heart of successful organizations. That’s why we use employee tracking software; we want to measure and improve performance, especially when it comes to crucial touchpoints such as customer service and sales communications.” — Jayson DeMers, CEO at EmailAnalytics

Many businesses believe the best way to manage remote employee productivity is with the help of software. With the right tracking software, you can understand what your team is working on without interrupting them. You can also identify strategies to improve workflows, workloads, and employee experience for your team.

In fact, 60% of companies embrace remote employee productivity software as a proactive measure to support and stay connected with their remote employees.

Hubstaff dashboard with activity and productivity data.

“We utilize tracking software to measure and enhance employee performance. Time tracking tools provide data on how employees allocate their time, helping us identify areas where they may need additional support or resources. We also use project management software to evaluate task completion rates and project timelines. Regularly reviewing this data allows us to identify performance trends and implement strategies to improve efficiency and productivity among our remote team members.”Phil Strazzulla, Founder at SelectSoftware Reviews

“We use productivity tracking software that helps us monitor tasks, track project progress, and measure individual and team performance. It provides real-time insights into what tasks are being worked on and allows us to identify any bottlenecks promptly.”Jon Morgan, CEO at Venture Smarter

Look beyond basic metrics

Be careful not to get distracted by simple metrics. While employee productivity features are helpful tools, they’re not meant to be the be-all, end-all of good management. Focus on outcome-driven metrics that guide decision-making and can be replicated. While the instinct to look for new KPIs is well-intentioned, it’s even more important to measure what truly matters and to support mental well-being.

“Machine learning capabilities within tracking software help us predict potential burnout and disengagement among our team members, allowing us to take proactive measures for our team’s well-being. This improves productivity and supports our team’s mental health.”Dominic Monn, Founder and CEO of MentorCruise

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Establish a routine for regular check-ins

Regular check-ins enable you to stay connected with your team’s progress while still providing the autonomy they need to be fulfilled and successful.

You can also consider implementing automated daily Stand-ups to streamline communication. Key questions to ask include:

  • What did you work on? 
  • How long did you work on each task?
  • What was your main priority?
  • On a scale of 1-10, what is your stress level?
  • How are you feeling today? 
  • What’s on your mind?
  • Did you have any big wins?
  • Was there something you wish had gone better?
  • Did you experience any roadblocks today?

Here are Katie Boudreau’s strategies for conducting regular check-ins:

“1. Give space for one-on-one interactions. Allow for no-pressure informal talks but with a defined purpose. Be open to employee’s questions, concerns, ideas, and thoughts during the regular check-ins.

2. Empower them, listen to them, and tell them that you genuinely want to support them professionally. Make them feel appreciated. A birthday card or a virtual team call to recognize an employee’s efforts are good examples.

3. Solve employee performance issues as they arise. Validate individual work and provide them with resources (e.g., tools, tutorials, training, mentorship) as needed to improve their productivity and performance.”

Prioritize and rank tasks in order of importance

Identify mission-critical tasks and prioritize them for more efficient tracking. By setting and tracking priorities, you can then pinpoint areas for improvement and proactively address any issues that arise.

When we inquired about the impact of prioritizing tasks on team productivity and efficiency, we got some great insight from remote leaders.

"We operate on a 'need-to-achieve' basis, a priority-setting method adaptable to daily dynamics. Employees identify high-impact tasks that align with their intrinsic motivation, fostering a high-efficiency workflow that's self-directed."

Dominic Monn
Founder and CEO

(Source: Dominic Monn, Founder and CEO of MentorCruise)

“It’s simple, really: prioritization guides employees in deciding how to order their work by looking at the significance and deadlines of each task. A ranked list of tasks can serve as remote employees’ defense to politely decline unneeded meeting invites and unplanned demands. For example, let’s say someone comes to my team with a “pressing” need. We’d present our ordered list of tasks and inquire, “To fit this in, what should we drop?” Once they see the weight of our other tasks, their “urgent” need frequently turns out to be less critical.”Fawaz Naser, CEO at Softlist.io

Track task progress to uncover issues and bottlenecks

Take note of tasks that didn’t quite run on time or to plan. By monitoring repetitive tasks and projects, you can identify ways to improve processes, eliminate admin work, and streamline workflows to improve productivity.

Just be mindful that fast work (efficiency) does not always equal effective work. Encourage a balance between efficiency and quality by providing resources, using automation, and conducting retrospectives.

“We use project management tools that allow us to monitor task progress in real-time. If any issues or bottlenecks arise, we address them immediately, either through team discussions or by reassigning tasks to balance the workload.” Jon Morgan, CEO at Venture Smarter

Celebrate employees who achieve their goals and help those who fall short

Acknowledgment is key. That’s why it’s important to recognize accomplishments and address challenges equally.

Whether your team surpasses expectations and you’re celebrating their success, or they face setbacks, your role is to applaud their achievements and provide guidance during tougher times.

“Addressing underperformance in remote teams requires a supportive approach. We believe in open and constructive communication. We work together to create a plan for improvement, offering additional training or resources if needed. Our goal is to help underperforming employees overcome obstacles and get back on track, ensuring a fair chance for improvement.” – Shawn Plummer, CEO at The Annuity Expert

Navigating remote productivity requires a strategic approach

In conclusion, effectively tracking remote employee productivity requires a strategic and thoughtful approach that involves:

  • Setting clear goals
  • Establishing robust communication protocols
  • Utilizing tracking software
  • Implementing regular check-ins
  • Prioritizing tasks
  • Monitoring progress
  • Addressing both successes and challenges

By fostering a transparent and supportive remote work environment, businesses can enhance productivity and contribute to the well-being and success of both the company and the people who make it all possible.

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Category: Product