Remote working: Do you really need a hive for activity?
A bustling office has always been seen as a hive of activity. For many businesses it’s been the visual reassurance of having a hardworking culture.
But now remote working has been forced upon all of us, businesses have had to accept that, actually, productivity is possible without having a hive.
Managers are having to learn to trust their employees are managing their workload appropriately from a distance.
And for employees it’s also been an adjustment. They’ve gone from being under the boss’ watchful eye, to having the alien environment of autonomy.
A tell-tale sign of a culture that believes there’s a link between productivity and the office is flexible-working guilt. This is where an employee feels they need to check in over email and be seen on chat to demonstrate they’re at work.
If this is the case, then managers need to lead by example. Show employees that they’re working flexibly and introducing a different perspective on what productivity is, which is something I’ll explore in this post.
Shifting productivity measurements
Now businesses can’t placate themselves with visions of a bustling office, it’s the ideal time for them to redefine productivity. Does it mean how many people are working non-stop 9-5? Or does it mean the best possible outcome – even if they worked outside 9-5?
Delivery companies are a great example of this. Some couriers have developed a reputation for being careless, from flinging parcels at the door, to leaving a precious items in a not-so-safe spot.
Courier business owners are no doubt horrified at the reputational brand damage this can do. They work of the basis that their customers trust parcels will be delivered.
The “law of unintended consequence” also applies when measuring productivity with black and white KPIs. Couriers are under pressure to achieve high delivery-per-day targets, but this can be to the detriment of customer experience.
Delivery drivers are key workers. They’re able to see people who’ve been self-isolating with little human interaction. It’s arguable there’s both a moral and economic requirement for increased customer engagement at this time. Spending a little more time would wonders for brand reputation, as well as being a small act of kindness for our communities.
Perhaps businesses shouldn’t just be thinking about how much they can get done within a certain period of time, but how big an impact they can make within a certain amount of time.
This can be achieved by choosing smarter KPIs that reinforce the brand rather than just tick boxes.
Smarter KPIs for better outcomes
KPIs need to be adjusted to individual employee strengths, and a more broad view of the outcomes our enterprises wish to achieve to ensure the most impact is made across our social and our economic goals.
For example, employees that are social butterflies may have productivity measured by customer engagement-focused metrics, while hyper-organised employees may still be measured by how efficiently they can tick-off tasks, creating a balance across a team.
COVID-19 has called into question how much we actually need that hive – the workplace, but perhaps it could give us a strategic long term benefit in how it challenges us to measure productivity not in terms of output, but in terms of outcomes.