Employee Engagement Employee Recognition Remote working

Identify the right KPIs for measuring employee performance remotely

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If there ever was a super interesting yet majorly challenging time to be in HR, this would be it.

Not only are we all dealing with the experience of being humans in the midst of an actual global-scale pandemic, we’re also having to adapt to things like measuring employee performance remotely and motivating dispersed teams who are doing their best to lean into a new normal that we’re making up as we go along. 


Deep breaths

The best way to deal with all of this is to eat the proverbial elephant bite by bite, which starts by breaking things down into manageable steps. To this end, we've already shared helpful advice on virtual team building and crafting productivity-boosting digital workspaces

Next up, we're going to walk you through the importance of setting KPIs for remote teams, discuss what makes a good KPI, and give you some ideas as to which those should be. 

Check out our YouTube channel for great content on everything from drawing up a recognition blueprint for your business, to leadership and management responsibility for effective employee engagement.

Why you should definitely be setting KPIs for remote teams

KPIs, or key performance indicators, is one of the ways in which you can measure the productivity of your team members who are working remotely. Even though there are indications that distributed teams can be more productive than their office-bound counterparts, it's still essential to keep tabs on how everyone is doing. 

Measuring employee performance is a good idea for everyone involved - managers are able to stay on top of their to-do lists, and employees are able to pivot more effectively because they are focussed on goals that serve their entire team. Whether your company’s remote situation is something that is temporary until you can head back to the office, or turning into something more permanent, regular appraisals are essential to help everyone find the right balance. 

The key lies in helping your employees to understand that KPIs are there to help you evaluate the effectiveness of your processes and detect improvement. It's not about micromanagement or helicopter supervision. In fact, the right collection of KPIs functions as a tool that helps each team member to stay on track even when they are all by their lonesome, working away in PJ bottoms with only their cats as in situ co-workers. 


What makes a good KPI?

The best kind of KPI will provide managers and other members of the company with vital information on product and project development, and give employees helpful milestones along the way. It will also yield objective data that can inform decision-making processes and overall evaluations while providing extrinsic motivators for team members to remain focused and productive.


As with any other goal or objective, you also want it to be SMART - i.e. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. In short, every KPI should: 


  • Refer to a very specific action or task. 
  • Be measurable so data can be interpreted effectively. 
  • Be achievable under current conditions. 
  • Contribute to the needs of your business in particular. 
  • Be tied to a definite time period that is reviewed regularly. 


For instance, a KPI that ticks all of these boxes would be: ‘Increase sales of our online health and safety course by 25% by the end of March by focussing on paid advertising and creating new digital sales funnels to increase our customer base’.


In this case, the SMART breakdown would look as follows: 

S: Increase sales of our online health and safety course. 

M: By 25%.

A: Focussing on paid advertising and creating new digital sales funnels (can all be done remotely)

R: To increase our customer base.

T: By the end of March.


Take some time to evaluate your existing KPIs according to this model to see if you are hitting all the high notes. Or, if you are starting from scratch, use this as your template from the get-go. 


KPIs for different kinds of remote teams

There's this cool quote that states that if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. I.e. different types of remote teams need different kinds of KPIs in order to measure employee performance effectively. 


For example, here are suitable yardsticks for developers, marketing professionals, and sales reps: 

Examples of KPIs for remote developers


  1. Are they hitting or missing deadlines? 
  2. How much code are they delivering? 
  3. What is their rate of code churn? 
  4. What is the average time they take to complete a project? 
  5. What is the average number of bug fixes required on their individual projects? 

Examples of KPIs for remote marketing professionals


  1. What is their average cost per lead?
  2. What is their average cost per acquisition? 
  3. What is their total number of leads generated?
  4. How are their customer retention rates? 
  5. What is their customer lifetime value? 

Examples of KPIs for remote sales reps 


  1. What is their number of outbound calls/contacts VS their conversion rate? 
  2. What is their average customer value? 
  3. What does their customer retention look like? 
  4. What is the number of their completed sales?
  5. What is the value of their overall portfolio?


Still feeling a little overwhelmed or unsure of the KPIs you should be employing to measure your remote team’s productivity? Ask your crew. Whether you do so at the hand of a group Zoom chat, in individual meetings, or via pulse surveys, checking in with the folks who will be on the receiving end of your system is often the best way to pave the way for ultimate success. 

Taking heed of these guidelines when measuring employee performance for distributed teams in 2021 and beyond will make it much easier to get a handle on what your team needs to bring their A-game, and how you can support them to do so. 


Check back soon for more expert insight into the world of future-proof HR.

In the meantime, remember to subscribe to our YouTube channel for awesome video content that serves employee engagement inspiration in tasty, bite-sized bits. 


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