What does productivity look like today?



A workforce working remotely was likely not part of your 2020 Strategic Plan. That all changed in March 2020. Now 7 months later, your team and office space looks different, doesn’t it? 

While some companies have effectively built remote teams, for most companies it was never a consideration. That was until COVID. Professional service industries found themselves scrambling to shift from in-person interactions with clients and prospects to online video meetings. Manufacturing businesses needed to have people on the production floor, but the front office staff and sales department were a different story. 

Granted working from home is not for everyone. I’m sure you found that some front office employees flourished working from home while others have struggled. Some may be asking when they’ll get back to a centralized office, while others are asking to remain working at home at least a few days a week, if not full time. As an owner, did you find yourself flourishing or floundering at home? Were you surprised?

Speaking with family business leaders and their employees over the last few weeks, I found two disparate camps regarding the WFH experiment that was thrusted upon us by COVID-19:

Group 1: This has opened our eyes to the possibilities of WFH, but can we grow this way?

Group 2: It’s temporary. We need everyone in a centralized office to be truly productive.

Both camps share a common concern…how will we know if our employees are working productively?

Before we address that question of productivity from home I want you to consider this question: how do you measure the productivity of your employees at the office? If you can’t answer this question clearly, then how can a blanket statement be made about the status of an employee’s productivity, or lack thereof, while away from the office?  

So, let’s talk about the real issue. It’s not location. It’s measuring productivity.

There are obviously tasks that business leaders rely on their employees to execute successfully in order to continually drive the company forward. But how do those employees know where their focus should be tomorrow, or next week, or next quarter?  The key to ensuring productivity is to prioritize core activities that will make the most difference.  

That prioritization process must occur between the employee and supervisor, so that everyone can openly discuss and agree upon these high-value tasks. Without this key step, you could have an employee focused on what he/she thinks are the most important priorities, while the supervisor has a completely different list of priorities. 

A few tips around Priorities:

  • focus on attaining specific outcomes that make a difference in your organization

  • align with the long-term objectives of the company

  • have a clear completion point (finish line) 

  • ensure they are measurable with a Key Performance Indicator (KPI)

Knowing whether someone is being productive will be found in the numbers, which can be called a metric, KPI, or the classic SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound) goal. 


Keep this simple formula handy: Clear priorities + KPIs = employee productivity.


Need an example? Let’s look at a sales KPI. Each week the employee is required to connect with 10 new leads. In the daily huddle the employee should indicate how many leads they connected with the day before and how many are scheduled for the current day. This metric provides a CLEAR measure of productivity, and can signal where help is needed.


Supervisors and employees need to communicate on productivity DAILY. This CAN be done in a quick and concise manner. If KPIs have been thoughtfully created, then an employee should be able to list the top priorities for the day and speak to the KPI assigned to each priority in five minutes or less. 


Did you notice that the formula for productivity makes no mention of location? Until you know exactly what and how you are measuring employee productivity, keep an open mind about where productivity can show up. It might be closer to home than you think.



Cheryl Doll is a Senior Business Advisor / Gravitas Coach at Compass Point Consulting and provides hands-on consulting & coaching to help family businesses close performance gaps; give owners practical, actionable tools that drive growth; deliver training to develop leaders and position the business for successful ownership transition - all on their terms.


Learn more at: http://www.compasspt.com

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