Workforce Analytics

Performance Appraisals For Remote Employees – How It’s Evolved

October 20, 2022

Performance cycles are the most exciting yet haunting time of the year. Your team has worked hard for this appraisal, and you want to make sure you gauge their performance based on the right parameters for a due raise. But that’s where it becomes tricky with remote teams. 

Performance appraisals for remote employees require developing new metrics, since the conventional KPIs are no longer applicable while working from home. 

Let’s take a deep dive into:

  • What has changed?
  • How you can accurately review remote team performances for appraisals
  • The best way to adapt to this new approach 

How Parameters to Gauge Performances Have Evolved With Remote Work

Let’s start by recapping how performance reviews were done and how they have changed in remote working environments. 

#1 Time stamps have been replaced by smart time trackers

Time stamps have always been a major part of employee reviews. Managers used them to count the number of hours employees worked and determined productivity based on them. This approach is no longer applicable to remote teams because:

  1. Thumb-in and thumb-out require on-site hardware, which is impossible to deploy for remote teams because employees could be working from different cities, or even countries.
  2. Counting hours is no longer the right measure of productivity, because some employees might just be staying late to get that overtime bonus.
  3. Remote employees work in flexible shifts often because they’re operating from different time zones, which makes time tracking a tedious task for you and your team.

Time stamps were initially replaced with manual excel-based timesheets, which were time consuming, full of hassle, and had very little value in terms of data – which takes us to smart time trackers. 

Smart time tracking software tracks your team’s time spent on work-related tasks and helps you gauge performances against their actual capacity. They provide you insights that paint an accurate picture of how well an employee is performing and also gives your team a transparent appraisal system since all your data is backed up by statistics. 

#2 Verbal communication and in-person interactions have been replaced by emails and chats

Communication on the floor used to be a critical part of performance evaluations. Everything from how your team deals with customers to how it interacts with peers and communicates work-related tasks, had a weightage in your employees’ appraisals. This allowed your team to follow workplace SOPs and showcase their best behavior.

But all of that has changed with remote work.

Now, all interactions among teams are limited to conversations on email and Slack, which leaves very little room to show good character and teamwork. It has made things a little difficult for some remote workers because those who were comfortable walking up to someone’s workstation to help them out often find it awkward to do the same on a video call. 

As a manager, you can address this concern by promoting healthier online interactions by monitoring each member’s:

  • Contribution to online brainstorming sessions
  • Collaboration with other members on joint tasks
  • Tonality while communicating with the team 
  • Drive or willingness to help their peers out 

Monitoring all of this may put some burden on your shoulders, but you’re not alone.

Using online communication as a parameter to measure performance will also motivate your team to ensure healthier and more effective digital interactions. This is critical to your business because teams with seamless communication are five times more productive. 

#3 Number of hours spent have been replaced by a task-based approach 

Previously, managers were calculating the number of hours employees spent at work, including overtime. This was always a controversial approach: how do you tell if an employee has used extra time to deliver additional work or did the same number of tasks in more hours? 

Gradually, this has been replaced by a task-based approach where employee performances depend on their task completion rates and timelines (how many hours they spent on each project). This change has been prolific for remote employees who were getting the work done in due time.

Recommended for reading: 4 Tips for Managing Projects and Ensuring On-Time Delivery with Remote Teams

The shift from counting hours to a task-based approach has also been proven excellent for managers. You can identify billable hours more accurately, cut down unnecessary overtime costs, and find ROIs of each employee; all you need is the right time tracking and task management tool.

How to Accurately Determine Performance for Appraisals 

Remote work is here to stay. 

It is time that you leave the old performance measuring parameters behind and switch to the ones that are better suited for the work-from-home environments. You can use a dedicated time tracking and project planning tool to make the transition easier for yourself and your team. These tools will allow you to:

#1 Gauge productivity based on insights 

You need an accurate reflection of individual and team performances to be able to offer employees their due appraisal; time trackers can manage this role really well.

These solutions provide key insights into each employee’s performance, such as the number of hours they spent on a task, the time employees took from project commencement to its completion, and more. 

#2 Focus on effective outputs to determine employee ROIs

The most valued employees are always those who provide effective outputs that contribute to your company profits. This requires your team to work at the full capacity if not more, but how do you determine the capacity of your team? 

Some smart time tracking solutions, like timegram, allow you to do that by identifying working capacities of each individual; invest the first month in determining the average number of projects an employee completes in a given time period (you can set the timeline according to your preference). Once you know the average capacity and project completion ratios of each individual, you can compare the data with company profits to identify the ROI. 

Recommended for reading: Top Productivity Tips To Help Remote Employees Deliver Quality Results

#3 Develop business-specific KPIs 

Another excellent way to gauge performance of your remote workers is through developing business-specific KPIs. You can assign each metric some weightage based on their level of impact on productivity and profits (some KPIs like the quality of output impact profits more significantly than others). 

The better an employee performs against a KPI, the more productive it will be for your business; this will allow you to identify top performing employees and will promote a healthy competition between employees, while making performance evaluations easier for you.

What else can you do?

Your team cannot progress if only a limited number of people on your team perform well, while others continue to slack. As a manager, you want all employees to be productive and provide effective outputs, which can be achieved if you:

  • Take time out for monthly or quarterly performance reviews, so your team knows what areas it needs to improve and has ample time to get things back on track before the annual performance cycle arrives.

Here’s a pro tip: Don’t be like Matt’s ex company:

  • Provide remote employees some leverage while analyzing their performance because working from home can be challenging, especially with all the additional roles of a childcare, housewife or a househusband. 
  • Switch from a surveillance tool to an ethical time tracking system, as countless studies have revealed that surveillance tactics will decrease productivity, which can lead to bad performance reviews. 

In a nutshell

The entire performance appraisal process for remote teams can be tricky, but using the right tools for assistance can make it easier for you to evaluate productivity and ROIs. These tools can help you in:

  • Gathering relevant insights about your team and business outputs, which can help you to identify areas of improvement
  • Determining project costs to see if you’re draining money on low-priority tasks or projects 
  • Identifying billable hours to accurately project resource costs and quote clients accordingly 
  • Measuring performances based on KPIs that make performance evaluation easier 

You just have to analyze these insights from your time tracking tool, make appraisals quantifiable based on KPIs, and of course, conduct those much-needed monthly or quarterly meetings.

timegram: The Time Tracker to Make Performance Appraisals a Breeze for You!

Whether you want to conduct performance appraisals for remote employees, or need a tool to capture work-specific insights, timegram’s got you covered. This is a zero-surveillance time tracking and project management tool to ensure accurate performance-based appraisals. 

You can learn more about timegram here.

Or opt for a free trial today!

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Umer Asad

About the author

Umer is a creative geek, a soccer enthusiast, and a self-proclaimed standup comedian. He brings over half a decade of writing experience to the table with a knack for the SaaS niche. In his free time, you’ll find him in queues at fast food chains, playing PUBG, or doing adventure traveling.

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