Keeping Track of Remote Workers

5 Startup CEOs Discuss Keeping Track of Remote Workers

Workplace flexibility has become a defining characteristic in today’s startup environment, and instead of having to commute to an office everyday, more and more employees are given the option of working from the comfort of their own homes and according to their own schedules. Though this freedom has created a much more enticing alternative to the dreaded 9-5, it has also required managers and CEOs to find alternative ways to track their employee’s efficiency. Specifically, it has raised the question of how to grant employees the freedom to work on their own terms, while also ensuring that they continue to produce the highest quality results?

We spoke to 5 different startup founders to see how they find the right balance between granting their employees autonomy, while also ensuring that they continue to deliver quality results. Here’s their advice.

1. 4 Key Questions

“I found the hardest part of managing a fast growing business is keeping everyone focussed on doing the work that actually matters. Compounding this challenge is the fact parts of your team will be keeping different work hours across multiple locations.

What ended up working really well for us was a hard-and-fast rule that at the end of everyone’s work day they absolutely must answer four key questions and send the answers onto their team. Simply:

  1. What did I do today?
  2. What challenges did I face?
  3. How did I overcome these challenges?
  4. What am I doing tomorrow?

Although it looks simple, this approach results in several not-so-obvious benefits:

  • It helps the person stay focused on the important work
  • It allows an opportunity for self reflection on progress made
  • It keeps the team current on possible issues and solutions
  • It allows the manager to clearly see what was achieved, offer advice and quickly change focus

The four questions became such an important part of everyone’s routine that personal achievements and challenges would sometimes make it into someone’s daily report. The outcome of this? It helped build a stronger community and work culture amongst our startup team, some of them who had never even met in person.

Daniel Barnett, Work[etc]

2. Instant Messaging

“One of the best ways for a start-up to keep employees on track is through the implementation of an instant messaging application. We work with contractors around the world, and the use of an IM program allows everybody to stay in touch.

Chris Bibey, BroSix

3. Measure Achievements

“I think this is the wrong question. Traditionally we have measured employees by the time they work and that was the basis on the money they get. This was done like this, because it is so much easier to measure time than achievements, deliverables, great ideas etc. I hope that this concept will eventually be part of the past and that we understand that there is no values in hours spent on a job in itself, but in whatever can be achieved being part of a startup. And if this means that you have a great idea in the middle of the night, which helps the start-up move forward, but you might only show up in the afternoon for work, than this is the best value for everybody involved.

Rolf Ritter, People As A Service

4. Set Deadlines

“Set reasonable deadlines with your employees then allow them to management their own schedule/working hours. Everyone is a little different. Some employees prefer to work remote late night while others like the camaraderie of working side-by-side in an office during set hours. Get to know and trust your employees.

Tim Holmgren, NewsMeister

5. Value > Time

“The key should not be the hours you work, but the value you deliver. Using the number of hours worked as a measure of employee success if a sure way to fail. Setting employees KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that are SMART (Specific Measurable Achievable Relevant Timely), will mean that you can more effectively manage the value they add to the business, then the hours become a much less important factor.

Ian Naylor, AppInstitute

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