Productivity was a term once used to describe how quickly factory workers could produce items during the industrial revolution. Today, it's a term often used to refer to how much a person can accomplish within a period of time. 

When global lockdowns began, and everyone started working from home, there was suddenly less oversight and guidance from managers. Many thought this would slow productivity, and in some cases, it has. 

Yet, remote work productivity is more of a controllable factor than many businesses recognize. So today, we want to take a comprehensive look at productivity and share some insights on increasing it in your remote team. 

What Is Productivity Exactly?

Productivity is a ratio that describes the output volume and the volume of inputs. In short, input is anything that is put into producing something. This could include time and labor, for example. The output is whatever comes from that input, such as the amount of finished product, the work the employee completes, or the completion of a specific number of tasks.

It's easy to understand productivity from the vantage point of manufacturing – factory workers producing a specific number of items each hour. However, it's much harder to calculate in an office setting since employees often balance several projects with varying difficulties simultaneously. 

It's even more complicated when those employees work remotely since you can't see anything they're doing. Still, productivity is a critical metric to measure because If your employees are not getting enough work done, that's impacting your ability to meet profit goals. So, how do you calculate it? 

How to Calculate Remote Working Productivity

Calculating remote working productivity is not always a straightforward process because there typically is not just one output or input. However, there is a basic formula to use to get started: divide your needed output by input.

For example, let's say you need your developers to complete 5000 new lines of code daily to meet your launch deadline, and you have 100 developers on your team. In this situation, you would divide 5000 by 100 employees, giving each employee a productivity goal of 50 lines of code per day. 

What about when your output isn't task-oriented? In the service industry, for example, your primary measurable KPI might be revenue. In that instance, you could divide the revenue each employee generates by their salary to get a direct ROI from that employee. 

What type and number of tasks are your employees responsible or completing? What are your expectations for how much should be done within that scope each day? Get clear on those metrics and create formulas for calculating productivity without bias. 

Why Remote Work Productivity Matters: 6 Benefits to Better Productivity 

Numerous benefits typically come from good productivity levels. Remote work productivity goals can help to improve overall company-wide success in ways such as the following:

Increased efficiency

Productivity and efficiency, while similar, aren't the same thing. However, both are important. Efficiency is all about doing more with less. When you focus on employee productivity, you're improving your bottom line because you're ensuring that you're getting the most out of your employees – your resources – as possible. 

Better profits

Profitability increases when companies are more productive. When profits rise, employee salaries grow. As a result, there's more opportunity to bring on staff and build the business in various ways, thus creating further opportunities for the company.

Higher team morale

Don't confuse productivity with working harder or having a taskmaster monitor a worker's every move. Employees who use their time wisely and accomplish tasks feel good about their work. This often leads to lower absences, more collaboration, and overall, higher morale for employees and teams.

Greater employee wellbeing

When an employee has the right balance of the amount of work they need to do with the amount of time they have, there's less risk for burnout and more opportunity to feel supported and encouraged. Remote work productivity also provides employees with a better work-life balance, which is critical when working from home.

Increased employee engagement

Keep in mind that employee engagement in a remote work environment is more challenging. Disengaged employees can cost companies billions of dollars in productivity losses – but engaged workers, who feel they are a part of the team, are likely to be more productive overall. 

Higher customer satisfaction

Solid remote work productivity directly impacts customer satisfaction. When customers get what they need from your employees faster, their needs are met more effectively. It's not just about speed, though. Customer satisfaction levels increase when your workers are engaged, positive, and supportive.

What Causes Productivity to Drop?

There are situations where productivity can fall, often leading to lower profit margins and less satisfied customers. Unfortunately, it's not always clear what's wrong until you spot patterns. However, there are some common causes. Here are a few of them.

Remote work distractions

Distractions significantly impact remote work productivity in many situations. Too many coffee breaks, answering the phone or managing unhealthy habits like snacking or smoking impact how much work employees do. When it comes to working from home, there are often more distraction potentials – including being uncomfortable, poor support at their computers and noise in their spaces.

Remote work meetings – those video conferences that are so important to the company – can drain productivity, too, if they happen too often. 

Not showing up

Absenteeism is a big concern. Employees who aren't at their desks cannot perform the work. Sickness-related absenteeism costs companies $530 billion in lost productivity each year in the U.S. Encouraging wellness behaviors helps to ensure your employees are healthy and less likely to miss work.

Another core concern is presenteeism. This is a term used to describe how present an employee is during work hours. If they are there but are not getting work done, that can impact productivity. 

A lack of communication

In every environment, a lack of communication is a significant factor in productivity losses, often creating work environments where employees are not motivated to do their work. Employees can easily feel isolated and unable to ask questions. If their supervisors are not available to help or answer questions, that can also be a factor. Sometimes, a lack of guidance can occur because the manager does not "see" what's happening.

Improving communication with regular check-ins and monitoring a worker's ability to meet their goals can significantly help. The key here is to balance communication in a positive manner to ensure employees get the level of support they need.

6 Ways to Increase Remove Work Productivity

Remote work productivity can (and should) continuously improve over time. Here are a few specific ways to ensure that's more likely to happen.

1. Set concrete productivity goals

By far, the essential first step is creating goals. Every employee should have well-defined productivity goals that outline what they need to accomplish and how much time they have to do that. That could be a set number of calls to make each hour or a specific set of data inputs to complete. Define what you expect and then keep the lines of communication open to ensure your employees can achieve those goals. Good remote work policies are a must for this as well.

2. Decreased multi-tasking

Multi-tasking isn't productive, even though it may initially seem like it. Instead, concentrating on one task at a time may be all needed to achieve the best outcome. Some estimates indicate that when a person is trying to multi-task, their productivity can drop by as much as 40%. Instead, try to encourage people to complete tasks one after another, working to complete the first task before moving on to the next.

3. Reduce non-productive tasks

Non-productive tasks are a big part of many business days. That includes things like video conferencing or communications between staff members that may not produce any tangible benefits. The more you can streamline the way your employees communicate and how you oversee their efforts, the more time there is for more significant and impactful tasks. When scheduling meetings, determine if it is really beneficial. If not, don't do it.

4. Incorporate rewards and recognition

The goal of improving remote work productivity is not necessarily to push your employees to work harder. It's to ensure they are meeting goals. In nearly all situations, it's important to offer some recognition for when your employees meet those objectives you set for them. You don't have to reward them for doing their job, but acknowledging their good work is valuable. When there is recognition, organizations often see a boost in their overall productivity levels. When your boss tells you that you've done a great job, that will encourage you to keep working to meet those goals.

5. Provide adequate training

A huge hindrance to successfully meeting productivity goals for many employees is a lack of training. If they do not know how to achieve specific goals or are not doing tasks properly – that's cutting into the time they have to get work done. By providing high-quality training and guidance, your employees will be able to get the job done sooner, which often means being done properly as well. Teach employees what the task is and how to do it well to meet your goals within the allotted time.

6. Provide the right tools

Productivity can also improve when the right tools are in place. That starts with effective remote communication tools that allow people to communicate efficiently (without having to deal with phone calls and meetings as often). You also want to be sure you have the right software and hardware to minimize distractions and improve overall communication. Be sure that your employees have the ability to do their job well with the tools that are best suited for the work they are doing. 

Improve remote work productivity in your organization with Outstaffer's #WorkFromAnywhere solution

Productivity is critical in the world of remote work. It could be the key to more engaged employees and boosted profits. Better productivity starts by understanding your productivity goals and creating a strategy to get there. It also requires the right team and tools. That's where we can help. 

At, we enable you to hire, pay and equip the best talent from around the world – without the legal or HR headaches. Then, we empower your global team to work with our managed devices and VR workplaces. Plus, with our real-time employee monitoring and attendance tracking tools, you can keep track of your employee productivity – no matter where they are. 

Want to learn more? Schedule your free demo today.  

Nov 30, 2022
Talent Shortage

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