Motivating Remote Employees Using OKRs

August 14, 2021, 4 minutes read
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Our collective increase in productivity during Covid-19 shows us that remote work is not the "lazy option". Companies are now looking at how to measure traditional metrics such as participation and engagement, while hybrid or remote work is becoming the norm.

Although we have become more efficient and agile, our ability to deliver results is better than ever, there are still some doubts about remote employees' commitment. For small-sized businesses, however, productivity is vital for success. We must always do more with less, and ensure that there is no waste.

This has resulted in a dedication to key performance indicators (KPIs), as a means to measure productivity. They are measured every day, discussed in team meetings, projected onto TV screens, or fed into Slack channels. Companies can get lost in the details when they focus on increasing or decreasing KPIs. This can lead to companies losing sight of the bigger picture and unable to demonstrate that employees are hard working. While KPIs can be objectively good, focusing on output is not the same as focusing on outcomes.

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Companies used surveillance and tracking software more often during the Covid-19 pandemic. They believed it would increase productivity and efficiency of their teams while they were working remotely. Companies began to use monitoring software to monitor employees' internet surfing and work hours. Some companies even tried to monitor workers by imposing strict webcam rules and frequent check-ins. All this leads to burnout.

Numerous studies have shown that extrinsic motivation doesn't work for workers. Micromanagement and employee surveillance software can incite fear among employees that they are not being productive. This creates additional pressure on the team and reduces morale. Digital supervision is not only intrusive, but also destroys trust between employees and managers.

You can also enter alternative objectives and key results (OKRs).

OKRs can help to focus and align an organization as well as create a set productive behaviors that will foster an intrinsically motivated culture. Employees can define their desired outcomes, which gives them autonomy and motivates.

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To build a long-lasting team, it is important to create intrinsic motivation. While the average tenure for the workforce is approximately 4.2, startups' median tenure drops to just 2 years. Startups are singularly focused on maximising output. It is not surprising that many companies fall into a burn and churn model for employee relations. They lose critical talent to do more and be able directly point to a rising number. The burnout rate will only rise when employees are constantly under the watchful eye of their employers for signs of productivity decline.

OKRs are focused on outcomes and not outputs. This is a way to address your problems rather than the symptoms. It also allows teams to be more flexible and allow them to innovate and experiment in new ways. It also allows for a more human approach that encourages team members to strive for their best. It encourages positive behaviors such as sharing progress updates, reflecting on and reflecting on your goals and helping to keep them accountable, and maintaining trust and autonomy.

When you are setting your quarter's goals, don't focus on increasing your KPIs. Instead, think about the overall outcome that you want to achieve. Teams are encouraged to create their own OKRs and align with companies. This gives them the opportunity to select the best outcomes while maintaining a balance between their regular work.

This not only shifts the expectations to be more flexible but also creates a sense of purpose and ownership that drives them to achieve their goals. Remote work offers the possibility to increase productivity for your team, but only for companies that are willing.

Related: Why remote work makes leaders (and teams) better