As many businesses have switched to remote working models in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become clear that many methods of measuring employee performance and productivity are no longer applicable. Metrics for remote employees are changing rapidly, along with the way employees spend their workdays. Managers can no longer look over their employees’ shoulders to see what they are doing, and employers have to consider their workers’ mental health and move away from a system of micromanagement.
New metrics for remote workers that balance business needs with employees’ well-being are on the rise. Focusing on output and quality is the way forward. Here are six metrics for remote workers you should be tracking that are essential to your business.
1. Work Time/Overtime Hours
One metric for remote employees is keeping track of overtime and hours worked. To start, keep a record of how long remote employees spend logged in to their work computer. An advanced employee timesheet application with screen capture capabilities will even show you what they were doing at a given time. There are lots of tools with this functionality on the market, including Zoomshift, Time Doctor, and Workpuls.
But making sure your employees are staying on-task is only the first step. If you notice a sudden increase in hours worked, your workers might be doing too much and at risk of burnout. A decrease in hours worked, on the other hand, might mean they’re short of work to do and need more tasks to work on.
Overtime is another essential metric for remote workers you should be keeping an eye on. A surge in overtime might mean there’s too much on an employee’s plate. Some employees tend to overextend themselves when working from home because the separation between work and life becomes less clear. If this is the case, it’s time to redistribute the workload. Consider software outsourcing as an option to reduce cost and maintain productivity.
Extensive overtime leads to high employee attrition and low satisfaction ratings. On top of these human costs, overtime is expensive. If overtime wages are eating up your budget, it might be time to reduce the workload. If business is good, you could consider hiring another employee, but that may not be possible in the current climate.
2. User/Remote Desktop Activity
This metric can have an impact on the employee experience. A slow or unreliable internet connection means remote workers might receive emails later than expected, take more time to access work-related files, and complete tasks slowly. In addition, poor connectivity can be disruptive to remote meetings, especially when using video conferencing tools.
Using a VPN to connect to office servers contributes to a browsing speed reduction of around 6%. Many factors influence VPN speed, including the distance between your employees’ home and the server, the type of encryption, the number of users, and the type of internet connection they have at home.
If your operations are heavily dependent on high-speed and reliable connectivity, ensure that everyone has access to a local VPN server and a fast and reliable ISP. Ask your IT team for the best VPN settings for maximum functionality.
Ask your team to run an Ookla Speedtest on their primary and backup connections. If their connection speed doesn’t meet your requirements, you can ask your telephony team to arrange internet access for affected team members.
3. Talent Retention
The key to sustainable operations is keeping your highest performers. Any time an employee leaves the business, it means reduced productivity and added costs like recruiting and onboarding expenses. There will also be a learning curve for the new team member.
To track employee attrition (and conversely, talent retention), divide the number of people who have left your team by the total number of employees you had at the start of the period, then multiply that figure by 100. For example, if your team had 16 members and two resigned during the pandemic, the attrition rate for your team is around 12%.
More importantly than the numbers, consider the impact of these departures. If a low-performing employee resigns, your team might not see much impact. But if a high performer or senior manager leaves, the cumulative effect will be much greater.
Employee attrition, especially during uncertain times, comes with a hefty price tag. According to Payscale, you should aim for 75% employee retention per year and focus on keeping your best performers in the team.
4. Employee Satisfaction
When your team works in an office, it’s easy to get a sense of employee satisfaction simply from talking to employees and observing the atmosphere. Without these options, you will need to use other means of gauging employee satisfaction and engagement metrics for remote workers.
Conducting an employee survey might seem counterintuitive at this time due to high levels of anxiety and stress around the pandemic, company responses, and job uncertainty. However, this is one of the key metrics for remote employees that must be tracked. Listening to your workers’ voices demonstrates that you care about their experiences and wellbeing. As we all navigate this strange new reality, you will need to monitor employee satisfaction and adjust your management style accordingly. It should be a key part of your business strategy.
Consulting firm, McKinsey, conducted a survey and discovered that these are the six most important factors in employee satisfaction:
- Job security
- Financial stability
- Work-life balance
- Fair treatment
- Working with trusted people
- Physical and mental health
Job security is particularly important in the current climate of mass layoffs and redundancies, while work-life balance has become complicated by having no physical separation between the home and the workplace.
Some companies avoid soliciting employee feedback for fear of receiving negative comments. But negative feedback is hugely valuable — it reveals areas for improvement.
5. Customer Satisfaction
Customer satisfaction is one of the most useful measures of employee and business performance. Consider creating a customer survey to gauge how your customers are responding to your product in the era of COVID-19. This metric for remote employees tracks how your remote workforce affects your relationships with your customers, which are ultimately the most important of all.
A good survey should be quick and simple to complete. It should aim to determine customer perception of the company and gaps in service or product delivery. Your survey should cover the following topics:
- Communication: How well is the company communicating, and are customers getting regular updates about their transactions?
- Confidence: How confident are your customers in your ability to meet their needs?
- Personal interactions: Are your customers satisfied with the way your team responds to inquiries?
- Action: How satisfied are your customers with the steps you’ve taken to maintain or improve your level of service?
- Customer needs: Is there anything your customers wish your team or business would do differently, during the pandemic or in general?
Customers are being more discerning than ever about where they spend their money, so understanding their needs and responding to customer feedback is more important than ever.
Tracking Metrics for Remote Workers
The 2019 Buffer “State of Remote Work” survey found that an astonishing 99% of those surveyed would prefer to work remotely at least some of the time. In many places around the world, remote work is now the only option. This looks like it will remain the case for some time, especially as we continue to deal with COVID-19. In fact, many companies have indicated that they will keep some level of remote working provision in place even after the pandemic is over.
As a result, you need to adapt and develop new ways of measuring productivity and engagement, starting with these metrics for remote workers.
To help maintain and improve productivity, flexibility when it comes to management methods is a must, along with clear and timely communication of policies. Remember that your team are human beings first, and that everyone is dealing with the stress, uncertainty, and health concerns brought on by the pandemic. Adjustment takes time and there will be a learning curve.
Ultimately, having happier employees is great news for your business, and you should reap the rewards.
Owen Jones is the Senior Content Marketer at Zoomshift, an online schedule maker app. He is an experienced SaaS marketer, specializing in content marketing, CRO, and FB advertising.