3 things to remember when measuring the productivity of your remote team

One of the most common concerns amongst managers of remote staff is ensuring everyone their team is remaining productive.

Whether your accounting firm has always provided flexibility for staff to work from home, or you’ve been forced into making the shift, or you're all under the same roof, you want to ensure the productivity meter is always rising. 

This becomes challenging when your remote workforce has settled into routines and monotony starts to creep in, which can have a serious impact on motivation, productivity and morale.

So how do you ensure your team is consistently hitting the mark and not getting distracted, burnt out or overwhelmed from their home office?

Remote productivity monitoring can help teams re-balance. But the key is implementing it in a way that doesn’t appear as micromanagement.

Here is how to build an effective strategy for measuring productivity of your growing remote workforce.

1. Clearly communicate goals and policies

Setting expectations with your team is key. 

By clearly communicating your business objectives and expectations across your entire team, you ensure your workforce is aligned and know exactly what they’re working towards.

This can also reduce tension and anxiety among team members during this significant change in working conditions. It’s important to remember that working from home doesn’t come naturally to most people, and it can take time to get settled.

So you need to set a careful process for remote team collaboration. Regular team or department check-ins, such as daily huddles, can help them feel connected, as well as providing opportunities for progress reporting and updates.

It’s crucial that you clearly communicate each team member’s OKRs—or deliverables—with structured deadlines and outcomes. 

Without this, they will lack direction and motivation, and you simply won’t be able to measure productivity.

2. Find the right technology mix

Pre-COVID, using the right tools was already an important part of an accounting firm’s productivity, success and culture.

And now, with remote work the norm, these tools are playing an even greater role—especially those that are built for collaboration in a distributed team.

Some are predicting remote tools will become standard, even among non-remote staff with the additional capabilities available eventually outweighing face-to-face communication.

The right technology mix will provide clarity around your team’s performance, which is critical in setting benchmarks for productivity evaluation.

When selecting the right tools for your accounting practice, it’s important to remember this as one of your priorities. The best tools for measuring productivity will include insights into how they are managing their time, as well as visibility across their workload, including deadlines.

Taking a long-term approach to your tech stack is crucial in setting yourself up for success—so keep an ongoing remote workforce in mind during your selection process.

3. Know the metrics to measure productivity

Understanding the right metrics is critical in understanding your remote team’s output and productivity.

This will vary firm-to-firm depending on your internal structure and priorities.

However, the following are two that can help.

Jobs completed per staff member

What is it?
The number of jobs or tasks completed by an individual staff member during a given period.

Why measure it?
Accounting is becoming increasingly output-focused. There is a shift from traditional metrics, such as time spent per job. As a result, firms need new ways to track staff productivity and how much everyone contributes towards the bigger picture of your practice.

Looking at the jobs, or individual tasks, each member of your team completes each week, month, or quarter is one straightforward way of measuring this.

Average time to complete a job

What is it?
The average length of time it takes across your firm and/or per staff member, to complete a job or task.

Why measure it?
Similarly to calculating the number of jobs completed per staff member, this KPI is useful for any output-focused accounting firm. While you may have moved away from tracking time in timesheets, you still want an idea of how long each type of job will take to complete.

With expected benchmarks for each process, you will know with confidence if a staff member is taking too long to complete common tasks, and can continuously strive to cut down on average time by looking at ways to improve each process.

Recommended reading: Metrics that matter

Remember to act

Once you have laid the groundwork by clearly communicating goals and deliverables to your remote team, selecting and setting up your firm’s ideal tech stack, and decided on the metrics that matter most to your firm, you can begin measuring your team’s productivity.

And importantly, you can begin taking the steps to optimize your processes for increased efficiency.