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Remote Work Series Part 3: How to Measure Productivity When Working from Home



Anatomy of a Secure, Remote Workplace

Part 3 of a 5-part series of blogs on how to create a secure remote workplace.

Businesses have always been reluctant to facilitate remote work for their employees since they have considered the physical workplace to be the ultimate makerspace. One of the reasons behind this reluctance is due to the major challenge around how to measure productivity when working from home.

However, IBM proved to be a change agent since the early 1980s, when the tech giant installed remote terminals at selected employees’ homes.

By 2009, when remote work was still, for most, a novelty, 40% of IBM’s 386,000 global employees already worked at home (the company noted that it had reduced its office space by 78 million square feet and saved about $100 million in the US annually as a result). — Quartz

In 2017, IBM ended work from home policy, and the news came as a bolt from the blue. IBM intended to make agile teams work, which they thought was only possible when the teams centralized in the office hubs.

Fast forward to today, COVID-19 has left almost every business across the globe with Hobson’s choice — remote work or nothing at all.

While the concept is new for some and tried-and-tested for others, the myth around low productivity when working from home prevails. But, if you put the right productivity metrics in place, the loopholes can be identified, and remote work can be streamlined.

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Six Productivity Metrics for Monitoring Remote Workers

Organizations believe that remote work will lead to negative productivity. Well, the opposite is true!

According to a study by Valoir, the average productivity loss of remote work is just 1%.

Still, organizations need to learn how to measure productivity. To start with, here are six productivity metrics that can help your organization ensure employee productivity without snowing under work.

The six productivity metrics for measuring productivity when working from home

1. The Increase/Decrease in Call Volumes

Metric: Number of calls made in a specified time period

Formula: Difference between calls handled before and after a change event for any given time period.

Monitoring the call volumes is a useful performance metric for sales teams and customer service executives. You can easily get an overview of such data on CRM software dashboards that offer an insight into the number of calls made by sales (cold calls + warm calls) or customer service rep.

Set achievable calling targets for a day, a week, and a month. If the sales team is able to close a deal, and a customer service representative resolves queries, remote work is working for your organization.

Contrarily, if the call volumes are declining, leaders would have to jump in to eliminate the roadblocks restricting highly productive remote work.

2. Customer Satisfaction Rate (CSAT)

Metric: The measure of the quality of service or product you offer

Formula: Divide positive feedback responses by the total number of responses and multiply it by 100

The customer satisfaction metric is a data-driven metric that bases its score on survey results. It helps gather unbiased feedback from clients and customers that helps analyze the quality of work done. While working remotely, organizations can send monthly surveys to clients and customers.

The survey comprises several performance parameters where your clients and customers can rate the satisfaction level for services or products. If the score is any less than what it was before facilitating remote work, things need to be fixed.

How to calculate productivity using the CSAT score? Divide the positive responses with the total number of responses and multiply it with 100. Let’s say you gather 50 responses from the survey, and the positive responses are 25. Then the CSAT score will be 50%.

3. Lead to Win Conversion Rates

Metric: The percentage of incoming leads that get converted into customers

Formula: Divide total conversions by total interactions and multiply it by 100

The #remotework trend is the reality of almost every business since the COVID-19 outbreak that led to the lockdown orders. The chain of events further led to an economic downturn that impacted organizations and its workforce around the world with — fewer leads and fewer conversions.

Yet, a business needs to keep pulling up the strings to acquire new clients/customers. This can be done by setting realistic targets for the marketing and sales representatives during the challenging times and resuming to standard targets when things get back to normal.

Monitor closely how the incoming leads are being nurtured. This can be done by analyzing the frequency of emails sent, the scale of marketing and sales efforts, the quick response rate, etc.

For a figurative estimate, apply the conversion formula to know how your lead to conversion score is turning up. For example, if you had 50 new interactions, and you convert 20 of them, your conversion rate is 40%.

4. 180-Degree Feedback

Metric: Gathering anonymous feedback for an employee from among team members

The productivity of individuals can be measured by taking feedback from the teams they work in. This is an effective method for understanding how everyone is contributing to business continuity during COVID-19.

The team members that are working together towards the assigned goal know best about who is putting how much effort. The right way to go about it is to send surveys to individuals to rate their peers on various performance parameters (using a rating scale or checklist method).

This should help in identifying the loopholes in performance while working from home.

To understand how to measure productivity when working from home, focus on the following parameters:

Examples of parameters for measuring 180-degree feedbacks

Further, this can help in holding individuals accountable over teams. And, when you engrave accountability in the work culture, people will automatically track the time spent on the assigned tasks.

5. Weekly Sprint Completion Rate

Metric: Amount of work accomplished in a week

Formula: Difference between work completed before and after disruption in a given sprint cycle.

Measuring remote work productivity can also be done by monitoring the tasks that any individual completes in a week. This can be done by dividing the work into sprints, a time-boxed interval assigned for completing a specific task.

When it comes to how you measure productivity when working from home, focus on the number of tasks completed vs. unconcluded tasks, and the quality of work done through weekly audits by appointed peer review teams.

You can also leverage productivity apps to assign tasks, prioritize them, and monitor workflow. On the one hand, this helps in measuring the speed of work done, and on the other in identifying performance gaps (work done in physical workplace vs. work done in remote work setups).

You can also maintain an in-house custom-made software product that is private to your organization, similar to what IsaiX did.

How Net Solutions Helped IsaiX?

Net Solutions built a software product called Coach for IsaiX that helps managers train, track, and evaluate employee performance.

Productivity measurement becomes easy this way as managers get visibility on the pending, in progress, and closed tasks.

Coach helps distribute tasks in manageable sprints and offers real-time updates on employee performance while providing the opportunity to improve leadership efforts across the organization.

Here is the case study for in-depth insights:

How Net Solutions helped build Coach, a skill assessment solution - Case Study

6. Schedule Variance

Metric: Determines whether the project is running behind or ahead of the scheduled budget

Formula: Budgeted cost of work done minus budgeted cost of work planned

Schedule variance is a useful productivity metric for project managers in an organization. It is a measure of the difference between the planned schedule for the project and its actual schedule.

The schedule variance is calculated in terms of the allocated budget for the project and helps in determining whether the project is running behind or ahead of schedule.

Ideally, the value of schedule variance should always be positive to ensure that the project is running ahead of schedule. When working from home, schedule variance should be calculated on completion of pre-planned milestones. And, if a negative variance is identified too often, amendments around remote work culture will be needed.

Conclusion

With companies like Twitter and Square going remote-first, the work from anywhere trend is gaining traction. In fact, according to a survey, 54% of Americans wish to choose remote work as their primary mode of work.

With these new realities setting in, learning how to measure productivity when working from home becomes imperative.

In a nutshell, oblige to these performance metrics — measuring call volumes, monitoring positive feedback rate, overseeing conversion rates, gathering 180-degree feedback, weekly sprint adherence rate, and calculating schedule variance.

To boost productivity and eliminate burnouts, give precedence to offering flexibility when enabling remote work and keeping the communication and collaboration going by maintaining an adequate remote stack.

If organizations learn to manage productivity virtually, there might be no looking back and for good.

Contact Net Solutions for creating productivity applications that promote productivity in remote work setups

Gaurav Bakshi

About the Author

Gaurav Bakshi is a result-driven Software Management Professional with +10 years of experience in Account Management, Sales, Business Development, and Project Management. Gaurav has extensive experience in building and managing energized, creative, and focused teams that aim to deliver seamless customer experiences by designing, developing, and growing next generation and enterprise-ready products and solutions.

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