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Written by Pete Wilkinson

Last updated 6 May 2022 ·

How OKRs improve employee productivity: Working from home

It sounds like a made-up phrase, but optimising employee productivity through task management is a real challenge for many companies. Employees have to be managed, and they probably don’t want you to micro-manage them. That’s where OKRs, objectives and key results come in. It’s an employee productivity framework that’s become popular with companies like Buffer, HubSpot, LinkedIn and Spotify.

But what is an OKR?

As a common objective in the workforce, it’s a simple way to describe and communicate the key priorities to focus on for the work that needs to be done.

Instead of assigning employees to different projects, you set and track specific, measurable goals for them.

Great, so what does this have to do with working from home?

A lot!

Working from home requires more than just a reliable computer; it also requires employees to manage their work from home. Using OKRs gives them a structured framework to do this effectively. Leaders can make sure everyone is on the same page and working toward the same goals. By using OKRs at your company, you can set clear, concise goals and communicate these effectively to improve employee productivity, improve employee morale, and reduce employee turnover.

Let’s take a deep dive into some of these benefits:

Goal Setting

OKRs provide an effective structure to set organisational goals that cascade through different levels and departments so that the entire business is working hard to achieve the same result. The best part is, using OKR software, you can do this from anywhere! Setting OKRs for different teams and individuals allows progress and performance to be monitored across the business. OKRs provide a practical goal-setting framework to facilitate faster business growth.

Employee Productivity

When employees are constantly battling endless to-do lists and never stopping to take a breath, they confuse busyness with business. Their level of effectiveness towards achieving their goals declines. They can’t focus on anything properly as they are trying to focus on too much at once. OKRs help employees focus on the big picture and see how their work directly affects that. Communicating the business vision and goals to all teams and giving them the autonomy to decide how they can make the most significant impact towards achieving those has a dramatic effect on employee productivity.

OKRs clarify what needs to get done, where teams should focus and the timeframe for completion, helping employees prioritise their workload and avoid losing time deciding where to start each morning.

When employees are given the freedom to work from home permanently or as a hybrid working model, a structured goal-setting framework like OKRs becomes pivotal to their success. It ensures a high level of productivity and provides the visibility and transparency leaders need to remain informed of progress, performance and achievements at all times.

Employee Turnover

Millennials are often labelled as a generation of “free agents.” They’re often looked at as individuals who are reluctant to commit to a company or career for very long. This is because companies invest less in retention programs and more in attracting new talent. However, a high staff turnover costs the business a significant amount in training, wasted resources and time, and reputation. All of which are setbacks that a growing business doesn’t need. Using OKRs helps improve employee engagement and motivation as they can see how they are part of the bigger picture. Employees are given structured plans and empowered to own their progress and achievements towards business performance. OKRs also help leaders identify rising stars, facilitating a suitable employee recognition scheme in their company culture, which helps retain talent and reduce staff turnover.

Employee Morale

When employees feel like they’re doing the same monotonous work regardless of their role or the company’s direction, it can lead to low morale. Similarly, doing the same job without knowing the bigger picture or why that work is important can also negatively affect motivation. This is especially true when management expects everyone to do a lot of extra work that doesn’t fit their given tasks. OKRs provide a structured, transparent and well-informed direction of work, so everyone knows where to focus their efforts but also, and more importantly, why their work is important.

Absenteeism

Employees using OKRs tend to feel more motivated when they can set and track specific goals and progress. When they can see the end result, they’re more likely to be engaged in their work. As a company that offers remote work, you don’t want employees to be absent often. It could mean lost work, growing backlogs, unrealistic expectations, or extra work that doesn’t get done. When employees are given the freedom to work from home or design a suitable hybrid working model for them, it can improve their quality of life, reduce their commute, and free up time to spend with friends and family instead of facing that 5 pm traffic jam! There may be instances where an employee doesn’t feel well enough to come into an office but, given a choice to work from home, can spend a few hours working and see how they get on. They can take more restful breaks if necessary instead of phoning in sick.

Total Workflow Improvement

The work everyone does doesn’t necessarily fit in one box. OKRs help streamline the workflow, allowing employees to work smarter instead of harder. You can break down tasks into different projects, assign tasks to team members, and track their progress. This helps you complete tasks on time and in the most efficient way possible. For more information on this, check out our blog, Employee productivity: Working from home in an agile manner.

Conclusion

OKRs are an extremely useful tool for managing employees. They help you stay on top of all projects and create a workflow that is efficient, effective and productive. They can significantly affect employee productivity and positively influence those working from home. They can be beneficial for companies that work remotely, never travelling to an office or for those based in distributed offices around the country. By tracking employee goals, you can increase employee productivity and reduce employee turnover.

Now that you know how OKRs improve employee productivity, why don’t you implement them at your company? It’s easier than you think, and you’ll notice the difference in no time!

If you have questions about OKRs or need help setting up OKRs in your company, take a look at The OKR Builder™. This free downloadable resource includes a step-by-step guide on writing compelling OKRs for your business that cascade perfectly throughout all teams for faster strategy execution.

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