What is Productivity?
Productivity has traditionally been purely about numbers. In the manufacturing world, we pay attention to how many hours of labor are being completed. We care about how many products are being made, at what cost, and how quickly. Productivity today is not quite as black and white, nor is it easy to quantify.
Quantitative measures can be difficult to define in the remote and hybrid workplace, especially when it comes to hours worked. You likely won’t know when someone is at their desk in their home office unless you see activity at odd hours at night or in the morning.
Lower physical visibility does not necessarily mean lower productivity.
Apart from hours, there are many qualitative aspects of productivity as well. Think: Customer satisfaction, employee wellbeing, team cohesion, etc.
In Person vs. Remote Vs. Hybrid
The question on many leaders’ minds is one of work location. Are employees more productive when they are in the office daily, fully remote, or a mix of both? Studies have been conducted in attempts to track down an answer.
Stanford research suggests fully remote work is linked to roughly 10% lower productivity than fully in-person work. Potential causes include barriers to communication and mentoring, along with self-motivation issues. Hybrid work, on the other hand, appears to have no impact on productivity.
A study by Scoop Technologies indicates that companies which allow the option to WFH see more growth. Those requiring all five days in office saw only 2.6% growth, while those without requirements saw 5.6% growth. It could be because offering flexible options boosts recruitment and retention. And happier employees that want to stay at your company are likely more productive!
The ultimate answer is… it depends. Where people work more productively depends on their role, tenure, experience, preference, working style, and life circumstances. There is certainly no “one-size-fits-all” solution.
Examples of Productivity Metrics
While productivity may not be concrete, there are still a few metrics to keep an eye on:
- Planned-to-done ratio. Track the ratio of assigned tasks and projects and compare it to the number that get done. In addition to the completion percentage, note the quality and if they were completed up to standards.
- Milestones achieved. Pay attention to and celebrate milestones. They may be directly or indirectly related to progress towards yearly organizational goals. Thinking of productivity with an outcome-based mindset produces better results than tracking hours.
- Customer satisfaction. Measuring the happiness of your customers can be a tough feat, however, it’s ultimately the most important metric of success. Set up workflows to collect customer feedback (i.e. automatically sending surveys via email).
Tracking these key areas can help you understand how much work your employees are getting done (and how great that work is). It can also bring to light underlying issues that may be stopping your team from maximizing productivity.
It’s All About Trust
Some companies have turned to surveillance to ensure remote employees are being productive. They monitor green active lights or cursor movements. These practices can be intrusive and could imply you do not trust your employees.
We need to communicate that we trust our people. Assume the best of your team members, even your newest ones. Trust does not need to be earned over time. Trusting that they will live up to expectations from the start will help them do just that. In fact, it will help them exceed your expectations. Because when people feel believed in, they feel like they can do anything.