Remote work may not be to everyone's taste, but it can be surprisingly effective. This is evident in a WFH experiment conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The study, which covered 16,000 employees from CTrip, found that workers upped their productivity by 13% when they worked from home.
Even so, concerns linger. For instance, a recent Time article written by Mana Labs founder Mimi Nguyen paints a less-than-rosy picture. It suggests that the spike in productivity from remote workers is temporary, especially for teams. Working from home can break synergy and disrupt the team's state of flow.
Setting collective and individual goals can help to keep everyone onside.
Why Is Setting Professional Goals Important?
It can be challenging to pull off a successful remote work strategy. However, setting professional goals will help keep the team focused and on target. Doing so will help your team maximize the benefits of working from home.
Here are some reasons why professional goal-setting in a virtual environment is important:
Teams used to working together may find it hard to maintain the culture in a virtual setting. Desire can plummet, motivation can wane, and focus can slip. When each team member works toward the company's larger aspirations, they get connected no matter where they are. Employees should understand how each day's target is measurably linked to monthly or quarterly goals.
Workers who stay invested in the company's objectives will retain their productive edge even after swapping office cubicles for a home workspace. After all, setting goals triggers a sense of purpose which prevents them from feeling too isolated.
Goals can keep remote workers engaged when a manager isn't breathing down their necks. When employees know what their colleagues are doing they're more likely to do their bit. Nobody likes being left behind.
When supervisors and coworkers aren't around to keep them on their toes, remote working goals will often be forgotten. However, when everyone keeps track of common objectives, they will be motivated to work harder.
Setting objectives can avoid confusion and simplify work. With remote working goals, employees can structure their time at home. Often, office routine is one thing many people miss when they start working remotely. Working towards goals can provide an acceptable substitute for workplace culture.
By building remote work around daily targets, the "when" of work gets replaced by the "what". Office work is structured around when to do things. What's more, remote work can be structured around the things to do.
Set Up and Achieve Remote Work Goals
Having employees work remotely can breed uncertainty in the team. Tangible goals bind everyone together so that the sense of alignment isn't lost. Setting individual and team goals the right way will make achieving them a breeze for the virtual worker.
Use a strategy that works
Just giving everyone a random goal to fulfill won't work. Individual targets should be tied to larger targets. Beyond that, goals need to be clear, specific, time-able, measurable, scalable, quantifiable, and reasonable.
Let's talk about two effective goal-setting strategies:
The Objectives and Key Results model can be used to set targets and measure progress for remote workers. A well-constructed OKR is crucial for aligning goals and priorities to manage time. The objective represents the main agenda while the key results represent important checkpoints along the way. For example:
- Objective: improve customer support coverage
- Key results: establish CS units for Twitter, WhatsApp, and Facebook
SMART is another useful model that can be tailored towards remote goal-setting. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.
- Specific: Who? What? When? Where? Why?
- Measurable: How many? How much? What indicates progress? Where is the finishing point?
- Achievable: What are the resources, capabilities, and existing examples?
- Realistic: How reasonable? How realistic? What's the level of commitment?
- Timely: What's the deadline?
Here are some smart goals for remote employees examples:
- Measurable: X number of contacts acquired, X products reviewed, and X products sold
- Scalable: X chunks, X steps, and X processes
- Time-able: X days, X weeks, and X months
Choose a plan of action
With the goals set, it's time for action. Projects can be broken into smaller chunks. Moreover, the plan of action should fit the team's needs. Some work best when different aspects of a project are given to different parts of the team. At other times, everyone adding their input to a central task is the best approach. So, tailor the plan of action to fit the type of project.
Use support resources
Use a tracking app to keep everyone focused. You can also organize virtual hangouts and mentoring sessions. Show employees examples of professional goals that they can set for themselves. Don't forget to create and maintain open communication channels.
With established support systems and resources in place, remote workers will keep their eyes firmly on their goals.
Sometimes, it's hard to focus on set goals when the usual triggers of accountability aren't present. Periodic reviews and reflection can help right the course of a sinking ship.
These questions will help with evaluating remote performance:
- Output. Is it increasing or decreasing?
- Time. Is more or less time spent on the same work?
- Targets. How many have been met? How many haven't?
- Changes. Are they needed? To what and by who?
If there are tangible targets to achieve, employees will retain focus and stay productive when working remotely. The tips in this article explained should help you set and execute goals.