Two Ways to Check Work from Home Productivity

Two Ways to Check Work from Home Productivity image DATE: May 4, 2020

Just last week I had an exchange with a colleague asking my take on how to check an employee’s work from home productivity. Jerry wrote, “I’m fielding a new question from my clients who now have a WFH workforce and…one of their first questions is, ‘How do I know my people are working from home?'” Jerry’s question boils down to how supervision from a distance can work effectively. Let’s take a closer look.

Two Ways to Check Work from Home Productivity

The question of an employee’s work from home productivity is an important one. One that I’m not sure most leaders and managers completely have their arms around yet.

But the work from home trend is likely to only increase. According to an article by Brookings on April 6th, “nearly one in five chief financial officers surveyed last week said they planned to keep at least 20% of their workforce working remotely…

Distrust Doesn’t Encourage Work From Home Productivity

A recent article reveals one approach that is, frankly, troubling to me. The article, “Just Because You’re Working From Home Doesn’t Mean Your Boss Isn’t Watching You,” detailed real and perceived circumstances fraught with long lasting concerns.

New technology and tactics for ensuring work from home productivity are resulting in the perception of mistrust between bosses and employees, feelings of “being spied upon” and ultimately the erosion of company culture.  Each is a significant concern if the leader’s longterm goal is to build stronger, more engaged relationships with employees.

Work from home employees are under mounting stress and pressure. From homeschooling children, to health concerns, and now the added worry of hypocritical performance evaluation. The growing disconnect between leader and employee really doesn’t encourage greater work from home productivity.

Communicating Intentionally Can Help

The one thing I know for sure is that all of us must stay in touch with our employees, especially when we can’t see and interact with them in person.

I have a professional protege who works for me. For several months before the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, she has been working from her home.  Every Monday morning we have a scheduled “What’s Coming Up” meeting by phone.  It could just as easily be via Zoom, WebX, FaceTime, etc, if I really wanted to ensure she was out of her pajamas. But I don’t care.

From a professional perspective, all I want to know is what she will be working on in the coming week. Does she need any help? When does she expect to conclude her in-process projects? And she wants to know if that schedule meets with my approval.  If yes, great!  If no, we have some talking to do to realign the expectations and the related necessary efforts.

We communicate intentionally. While setting mutually agreed upon expectations, we’re maintaining our leader/employee connection and reinforcing performance standards.

The main thing is not to forget about each other.  We’re in this together, even if we’re not physically together.

What Gets Measured Gets Done

Remember the axiom, “What gets measured gets done.” (Attributed to Rheticus in the 1550’s and more recently to management guru, Peter Drucker.)  So be very specific regarding your expectations, level of performance and appropriate timelines.

Managing work from home productivity is tricky, but it can be done successfully. Here are some additional ideas and a helpful tool for maintaining connection with remote employees while managing their work from home productivity.

So my answer to Jerry’s question, “How do I know my people are working from home?”

Communicate with intent. Set specific expectations. Inspect what you expect.

Engaged, connected leaders don’t rely on technology for that.

#workfromhomeproductivity #inspectwhatyouexpect #whatgetsmeasuredgetsdone #engagedleadership


About The Author:

Phillip Van Hooser, CSP, CPAE is committed to helping organizations transform their business outcomes by building engaged employee relationships. He is an award-winning keynote speaker and author on engaged leadership and communication. His most recent book is “Earning The Right To Be Heard," a primer for creating greater influence and opportunities. Connect with Phil on LinkedIn and Facebook.

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