4 ways to rethink performance with a remote workforce

April 24, 2023

performance review remote work

Remote work is changing the relationship between the employer and the employee.

Because we’re not in the office every day or even meeting in the same room, it may seem as if there is no way of knowing what workers are doing all day. How else can you measure employee performance when you can’t see them? Then again, did we ever really see employees “performing”? Or were we confusing a head count for quality work?

As we enter an evolved way of working, the way we do performance reviews should be upgraded as well. Here are four ways to rethink performance for a remote workforce.

1. Mind shift in leadership

We want to thrive in a remote-first world, a reality that is imminent and unavoidable, so there needs to be a drastic change in the way we approach measuring employee performance. Gone are the days where being physically present is enough to say you are showing up for your job. It's time to reconsider the idea of sitting at a desk for hours looking busy as a viable metric.

We can break old habits, but it must start from the top. When companies adapt performance reviews to complement a modern, global workforce, they’re showing their employees that they are not asking them to adhere to an antiquated system but more so, they are meeting them where they are.

Today’s employees can work in any way; they’re autonomous, and they want to work asynchronously at their own pace, and in their ideal environments. Leadership teams must explore new ways of measuring employee performance, so the renovated review isn’t just a digital version of people sitting at their desks.

2. Outcome-based performance

It will probably come as no surprise that outcome-based performance should be at the forefront of your performance review conversations. By using data to observe productivity, you’re able to monitor your employees without ever having to see them in person. When you’re clearly defining quarterly objectives and KPIs with your employees, they can work toward achieving these goals in whichever environment they choose. Some examples of performance-based metrics may include:

  • Closing percentage
  • Return on investment
  • Lead generation

Once you find a goal-setting cadence, your direct reports should then be handing you deliverables as needed, or according to an agreed-upon timeline. You can then measure the quality of the work they have produced. It seems simple enough, when you really think about it. It’ll make you wonder—why didn’t we work remotely sooner?

3. Project management tools

One of the reasons employers can be so averse to a totally remote workforce is the project management challenge. However, there are more project management tools available to you than ever before. Asana, Smartsheet, Monday.com—these are just some of the tools in the market to help you and your team develop and keep track of projects and timelines. You can create tasks and subtasks, mark deadlines, tag projects and coworkers, monitor updates, write comments, and just about anything else you need to track—all in one place.

Investing in technology to manage your employees’ productivity will streamline your work considerably and provide more transparency to your entire team about what’s being accomplished. At a 2022 HR Leaders Workshop in partnership with Safeguard Global, Richard Taylor, Senior Vice President, People Experience & Diversity at Nasdaq, explained why having tools like this make project managing from a home office far easier than the traditional workspace.  

When you’re keeping track of projects digitally, you have a direct line of sight into the activities being accomplished and how they contribute to your individual employees’ and the larger team’s goals.

4. Communication techniques

While communication may seem obvious, there’s more nuance involved. Because we’re no longer “face to face,” we may experience a lack of nonverbal cues in our discussions with one another. Therefore, clear communication, particularly between direct reporting lines, is so essential to building trusting and lasting working relationships.

Virtual communication technologies like Teams, Slack and Zoom should be integral to running your organization. But these tools shouldn’t represent “people in desks”—it’s not how often or frequently people are utilizing these platforms; it’s how effectively they’re communicating their needs with their supervisors and teammates.

Organizational psychologist Adam Grant furthers this idea by categorizing communication into two parts: interaction and deep work. “Great collaborations don’t involve constant contact,” Grant writes. “They alternate between deep work and bursts of interaction.”

Consistent project touch-bases, one-on-one meetings and check-ins with your teams will give you clear updates on your employees on a regular basis, but finding the right alternating cadence of collaboration will boost productivity, creativity, well-being, and retention.

Learn more about how a workforce solutions partner like GEO can help you build out your international remote team by contacting us today.

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