How should organizations monitor employee productivity for an increasingly remote workforce?


2k views2 Upvotes9 Comments

CTO, 10,001+ employees
Monitoring productivity is not new, but now we have to decide how to monitor when people are working from home. Every company will have different ways of monitoring based on their business and also the job roles. We used to just monitor how many hours you logged in, but that is not going to work anymore. You need to come up with a meaningful outcome-based way to measure productivity. It's either the work you have done, the number of transactions you have done, number of calls you've answered. Things like that. We need to come up with metrics, because a lot of tools that can tell you screen time or keyboard use are not effective. You shouldn't waste your time there.

The other challenge is privacy issues. What can you monitor? How can you monitor? That is a lot more critical. In Europe, they're against all this. There's a lot of regulations there. And I'm sure this government will also come up with regulations since working from home is going to be normal. There will be regulations put in there to control what the employers can and cannot do.The challenge is going through the burden of privacy guardrails and seeing what you can do. 

Also you want to make sure that by measuring it, you're not promoting the wrong behavior. The culture. That's an important thing. Some people will be ticked off. “Hey, I don't want to work for this kind of company that monitors me.” So you need to make sure you have an agreement with an employee. So be upfront with them, very transparent. Give the employee visibility into it. That's the one thing I always advocate: whatever you measure, employees should have visibility to that number. That's a fair game. If only their managers and HR see it, that means they're policing it. It should be more transparent and collaborative. Explain why you need to have it. We want to show that kind of agreement will be a positive experience. So basically we have to change how we measure, we need to have an agreement with an employee, and we need to be within the guardrails privacy.
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Certifed Integral Coach and Agile Coach in Education, Self-employed

There have always been data elements that got more scrutiny, let's say, on the European side. That variety of labor laws is going to add an extra element of complexity. I can't even imagine having cameras or those kinds of privacy issues come up and how different countries are going to react to it if that was to go into effect.  Even with the current Brexit situation, although they bought a new timeline for any changes to go into effect, folks have been having heart attacks over the data security because they didn't know what to expect, what was going to evolve, and how soon they'd have to react, going back into the product side of things, and how they're going to have to channel and regulate the various elements.

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Certifed Integral Coach and Agile Coach in Education, Self-employed
I'm moving towards making the employee more empowered to act as an agent for company data and privacy. The ownership doesn't end with the employer. And that's going to take a lot of hand holding and training and really, really paying attention to the quality of the employee. Not just the metrics but really that human aspect. There has to be a lot more investment into having that quality of employee who will take responsibility, and then empowering them and giving them that responsibility. It's going to have to fall on every shoulder. I don't think there can be tools to do that. The culture plays a lot into it. You have to have those values instilled in each employee so that they become empowered to act on behalf of the company. But maybe that’s idealistic.
1
Innovation Technologist in Finance (non-banking), 1,001 - 5,000 employees
We used to ask the employees at work, not to leave any client documents on their desk. That's a policy, but how do you enforce that policy when the desk is at home? At Schwab, there used to be someone walking around every so often and if they see a client paper, then that employee is immediately called in, right? Now that same concept, how do you translate that into the home situation? How do you get that into the employee's head: that data privacy and keeping that data confidential is as much on them as it is on the company. So there's an education aspect that must be done. You're going to have external hackers that are going to actually point out the holes and then we will fill those holes. It will take time to plug those holes one by one. But initially, it will be open for hackers to say, "Okay, go to Sunder's house. Sunder's printing out documents that are confidential and guess what, if I want to understand SVB's strategy in technology for the next three years, all I have to do is to start to go to the Tuesday's when Sunder's garbage gets thrown out, look through his recycled stuff, and I'll probably will get what I need.” So hackers will teach us that these things are going to happen. Companies will start to realize that that's what happening and then they start to put plugs. So I think it's going to take a little while as we start to evolve into those situations.

There's also a certain amount of monitoring that you have to do, which means you have got to get the employees to understand that big brother might be watching. This is part of your employment agreement that, at some point, we might have to put in devices in your home or things in your work location that might be looking at what you're doing. It's almost like you're making a deal with the employee: You want to work full-time at home? Well, here are some constraints that come with that. It’s about getting the employee to understand that yes, I have some freedom, but with freedom comes responsibility. I think through that we'll learn which ones work and which one won't.
3
Board Member in Healthcare and Biotech, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
Employee productivity is based on results and outcomes (new but not so often used old measures) rather than activity (old measure of busy and productive). And that is a shift that Managers and Enterprises need to make in the new paradigm.

When people were physically present at workplace, what were Managers achieving in their monitoring ? A person spending 11 hours at work with low productivity was deemed a better employee versus someone who was visible at the workplace for 8 hours (exceptions existed then and they continue even now).

So Organizations need to collaboratively define the measures which will indeed allow for measurement of productivity. Not difficult but requires a significant change in mindset
3
Group IT Manager Operations in Construction, 5,001 - 10,000 employees
There are several well written responses by people more experienced than me so

My two bits are my opinion on how i see and operate my team:

Give maximum freedom. Only question on deliverables and timelines. Productivity should only be evaluated by final outcomes and not by number of hours on clock.

Clearly defined deliverables and the corresponding timelines should be communicated first.

As long as they are getting the job done on time and as required; let them be in control of how and when they do it. You will have a happy team!
Thanks.
3
CIO in Education, 201 - 500 employees
Outcomes, same as on-prem. We assume our employees are professionals and don’t require any more monitoring than that.
1
CIO in Services (non-Government), 501 - 1,000 employees
Manage your employees.  Monitor your metrics.
To manage:  Have conversations and other forms of communication, both synchronous and asynchronous communication. Check in only as often as makes sense for their role, the project, and their work-style. 
To measure: Make sure your KPIs are in place and measured. Hold people accountable, but if you trust people and the metrics still aren't satisfied, it's the metrics that are wrong, not the employee. Ask them why. Ask them what targets make sense. Or even ask them which measurements should be thrown out.
1
Director of Technology Strategy in Services (non-Government), 2 - 10 employees
It will depend on the kind of work they do for you.

If they're in an area of the business where throughput is obvious (call centre, payroll, ticket management) then productivity measures remain easy and visible.

But for knowledge workers, Those whose work is intangible anyway, how did you measure productivity before - was it simply presenteeism?

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Without a doubt - Technical Debt! It's a ball and chain that creates an ever increasing drag on any organization, stifles innovation, and prevents transformation.
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