Productivity can prove difficult to measure, especially with remote teams. But a variety of emerging tools and low-tech solutions can give you a much better idea of how your employees are spending their time. 

One word of caution: Don’t obsess over tracking your employees’ productivity. Constantly monitoring them could feel like micromanaging. Rather, focus on whether they’re achieving the desired results. At the same time, offer solutions that help them to track their own productivity, which will empower them to make positive changes in their work habits. Furthermore, don’t just look at the quantity of work completed—evaluate its quality as well, which will give you a stronger sense of employees’ true productivity.

The following tools will give you a stronger understanding of how employees are performing—and, more importantly, boost their time-management abilities.

Use software that tracks goals and OKRs.

Software solutions that track employees’ progress toward goals and OKRs (objectives and key results) can give you a quick look at where they’re putting their efforts. Primalogik offers intuitive software that allows you to define targets and deadlines. You can look at employees’ progress to see if they are prioritizing their activities effectively.

Observe employees’ use of collaborative software.

Looking at collaborative software used for both remote and in-office teams can give you a better sense of what employees are doing each day. In addition to deliverables, you can view brainstorming sessions and other, less tangible (but still crucial) elements of productivity. Evaluate task distribution for particular projects to find out how much of the workload each employee is carrying. Collaborative software can help you easily see all of the following:

  • The breakdown of responsibilities for each project
  • The timeframe in which employees complete their tasks
  • How well they’re communicating with their team members. 

You will get a better understanding of how productive employees are during each stage of the workflow process.

Use time-tracking tools.

Employees will benefit from using time-tracking tools themselves. By gaining a better sense of when they’re most productive and where they may be able to boost productivity, they’ll be empowered to make positive changes. Tools like Toggl Track and Clockify can help all employees understand how they use their time. Utilizing solutions geared toward teams can help managers understand how each employee uses their time to bring a project to fruition. (Toggl and Asana, a collaborative working platform, offer a joint solution that allows users to track the time spent on Asana projects through Toggl.)

Discuss progress one-on-one.

Don’t rely on metrics alone. Instead, schedule one-on-one check-ins with employees to discuss their progress toward their goals and OKRs. Tell them you’re there to help them with time management if need be, asking them questions like the following:

  • Has your productivity level changed over time? How?
  • When are you most productive?
  • What tends to undermine your productivity?
  • Do you use any time-management strategies? If so, which ones?

Starting an open and ongoing conversation about productivity will help you stay responsive to employees’ needs.

Conduct a client survey.

Ask clients or customers about their experiences working with particular employees. Inquire about the timeliness and effectiveness of service, for instance. Track improvements in quality of work, not just quantity. Clients’ feedback will provide a valuable outside perspective on employee productivity levels. 

Conduct periodic self-evaluations.

Having employees periodically complete short self-evaluations will help you assess changes in productivity over time. Ask questions like the following:

  • Do you feel you’re doing your best work or just getting the work done?
  • How well have you been prioritizing your tasks?
  • Do you often get caught up in lower-priority tasks?
  • Do you struggle with staying focused on the task at hand?

The insights gained from these self-evaluations can guide you in helping employees plan and prioritize more effectively.

Conduct 360 reviews.

Collect peer feedback on how well each employee meets deadlines and delivers expected results. This 360-degree feedback will help you understand the quality of their work. It will give you a sense of how they reach their goals, not just if they reach them. Peer feedback will help you understand how well they communicate, whether they stay organized and on task, and how well they engage in teamwork—all important aspects of the quality of their work.

As you put some or all of these tools to use, you’ll help your employees take initiative to ramp up their own productivity. These tools not only help you observe the efficiency of your staff but also empower them to make improvements. They’ll appreciate honest conversations about their progress that are inspired by the goal of helping them do their best work.