What does employee productivity look like in 2021?
With offices still closed around the world and people still relying on remote work to operate, the definition of what employee productivity is has also shifted. Calendars filled with virtual meetings and the blurring of the work-life balance have made it even more difficult to reliably assess employee productivity, and improving it proves even harder.
If previous measurements fail to explain the full picture of what employee productivity looks like today, how do enterprises need to adapt their approach in the current era of remote work?
How enterprises can support employee productivity remotely
Traditional methods of tracking productivity are proving ineffective in the remote work era. Metrics like time-to-task fail to take into account the various influences and processes along the way to being productive when every interaction with your workplace is digital.
With so much change to the way people work in such a short period of time, how can we continue to track and improve employee productivity?
#1. Encourage creativity and innovation
How can a hardline metric like time-to-task really quantify the output of exercising creativity and innovating at work? What is the value of innovating and creating a new product feature? Or finding ways to improve inefficiencies? The modern world of work isn't a Fordian production line, and derivative metrics like time-to-task just don’t cut it today.
The Unily team discuss how today’s enterprises can encourage people to think outside of their day-to-day and incorporate innovation and creativity into their definition of employee productivity. They touch on the ethics and issues with ‘big brother' style employee productivity tracking, with Matthew explaining “when too much time around productivity is focused specifically on how much time you spent on each individual task and did you complete 'XYZ' transaction, what you actually do is stifle innovation.”
Paul summarizes the group's thoughts, “We want to look at time-to-task, that data does have value, but no one metric will be the absolute perfect measure of whether or not a person is productive.”
#2. Employees need to take an active role
"Your manager isn’t over your shoulder. We’re now in a situation where we have to self-monitor"
The reality of remote work is that no matter how much your colleagues or managers check-in, much of the responsibility of maintaining productivity now lies with employees. Employees are having to adapt their working routines to ensure they have time to concentrate on tasks to stay on top of their game
Kaitlin and Kaz share their own experiences of remote work and how they have taken a more active role in maintaining their own productivity working for Unily. “The way I've tried to ensure that my productivity stays high,” says Kaz, “is that I need to make sure to give and take at certain points: Give myself a break, go on a run, think about something completely different.”
The lines between the work-life balance have been blurred in the remote work era, as Kaz notes, “Without a physical office environment I struggle to stop at a certain time, and things just slowly leak into other hours.”
To combat this, we’re turning to our business tools to help negotiate the balance needed to effectively work from home. Matthew adds that “What we’re doing in many ways is facilitating productivity, not adding a distraction.” By connecting people faster, by accessing tools and information faster, the technology we’re using throughout remote work are saving us time, not taking it. In helping us to be more productive and get through tasks faster, Matthew points out, “it’s empowering people to connect with you, with your business goal, and driving them to do even better work.”
#3. Connect people to the whole organization
When we’re in the office, the people we want to collaborate and innovate with are only a stone's throw away, but in today’s world of work we rely on technology to connect us and help us to work together. Working as a cohesive team from miles away isn’t always easy, so taking time to use the tools available to us to connect with people and with our organization is crucial.
"Taking time in your morning to check into your intranet is providing me so much value to stay connected with an international company and stay in touch with what’s going on."
Finally, the team reveal their thoughts on how enterprises can connect people and engage them with tailored, relevant digital experiences to truly drive productivity gains. Detailing past Unily projects and client examples, Kaz shares some of the lessons he’s learned while working with clients throughout the remote work era: “I have a badge from each client where I’ve taken a lesson from each one. One thing I’ve learnt from that journey is to really invest in understanding the organization and their people. […] That engagement side and getting your people to invest is the hard bit. Invest in understanding the people because that’s where you know where you want to get to.”
Want to learn more about employee productivity in the remote work era?
If you’re looking to join in on the conversation and discover more of our team’s insights on employee experience, check out the full podcast episode. For guidance on supporting your own employees through remote work, get in touch with our digital workplace experts.