Shubha Siddhartha

The Implications of Work From Home on Assessment of Performance in Organisations

The coronavirus pandemic appears to have fundamentally changed the way many organizations will be operating for the foreseeable future. As governments and businesses around the world advise everyone to practice social distancing, remote work appears to be our new reality. 

If Work From Home becomes the new norm for all companies, how will this affect the assessment of performance in organisations? What implications will this new mode of working have on measurement of employees’ productivity and eventually the review of their work?

Remote work calls for new competencies among both leaders & team members. Leaders  need to be more adept on how to effectively manage dispersed teams, create a good remote culture & lead teams through time of crisis, while safeguarding at all times the psychological well- being of their team members. While team members, regardless of the level in the organisation at which they are operating, need to be highly self- motivated, resourceful, independent, confident & tech savvy to be able to work successfully from home. In addition to, ofcourse, learning how to effectively balance work life balance & how to transition between work life & personal life, so as to work productively at home.

Employee Goals will have to be reworked to exclude activities that cannot be performed remotely & include activities that maybe in the past were more nice to have, like process improvements & up-skilling. So to some extent what will change is what people are assessed upon, rather than the method of assessment. 

Employees working in an office environment are more familiar with receiving feedback on the go—by way of both verbal and more important non-verbal feedback. The body language of the Manager is a good enough indication for an astute employee to gauge how well he/she is delivering on the job. However as team members begin to work remotely, the importance of giving regular feedback cannot be over emphasised. It becomes even more crucial now, to actively provide team members with continuous feedback by scheduling weekly reviews. Managers need to pro- actively address the issue of workplace loneliness which can impact employee’s motivation & hence their hurt job performance. Team members who were already feeling marginalised in the office run the risk of feeling even more lonely working from home.

In IT companies,  it is relatively easier to measure productivity of  remote staff, by using an activity monitoring software to  track mouse movements and keyboard strikes. However for non IT employees it becomes critical to find a metric outside of hours spent to evaluate productivity. Since the Key will be measuring output not input. In this context it becomes increasingly important not only to set clear goals, but equally important to set deadlines and regularly track progress against these deadlines & priorities. 

That brings us to the over-riding importance of TRUST – Building trust is key to ensure WFH works. Employees need to trust that their managers are looking out for their best interest. Managers need to trust that their employees are engaged and motivated at work.   The Manager can’t see what his team members are doing on a real time basis. But the Manager can equip them in the right ways, give them the tasks, check on them like he has always done, and hope they produce in the ways he wants them to. The Manager can’t monitor the process, so the review will have to be outcome-based. 

The biggest advantage of WFH in my opinion is that it provides the opportunity to switch mindsets to more outcome based thinking

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