The ultimate guide to implementing OKRs for remote teams

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The world of work has witnessed a massive shift, post pandemic. With the virus resurfacing and lockdowns getting implemented more than once in countries, remote work seems likely to continue for a long time to come. Even with the development of a vaccine for the coronavirus, neither employees nor employers are confident enough to go back to the old way of work.

Ensuring safety of employees continues to be paramount. Even when the pandemic ends, remote work will not magically fade away. Studies are hinting towards an emergence of a hybrid workplace that will change the way organisations operate forever.

With remote work likely to stay as an option for a long time to come, organisations should deeply focus on ways to keep their employees focused and motivated. While studies have found remote work to increase productivity, the lack of human connection can also make employees fatigued and disengaged.

What are the changes in
remote working?

okr guide for remote work

Before the pandemic, meeting up with colleagues and having face to face conversations was common. Being in physical proximity definitely leads to higher energies. Managers also most likely took more responsibility for the professional growth of their employees. With remote work, managers might not be able to participate regularly in defining the path for their employees.

A recent survey by Fast Company found that 67 percent of employees haven’t received a single piece of constructive feedback from their manager in the past 30 days. And 47 percent of employees reported having fewer professional development opportunities while working from home. These numbers point out to the probability that while productivity might be high, employee careers might actually be suffering. 

A lot of employees still expect their managers to mentor and help them with their goals large and small. The lack of professional mentoring might cause inaction on the part of employees, and the continuance of it can make them completely dueless about their own goals, as well as the larger goals of the organisation. 

Thinking about remedying this should be a top priority for organisations. With remote work becoming the new norm organisations will have to figure out ways in which they can keep employees motivated and lay down clear goals for teams as well as individuals. One way to do this effectively is through OKRS.

What are
Objectives and
Key Results, OKRs?

okr guide for remote work

Objectives and Key Results (OKR) is a collaborative framework used by category leaders such as Google, Twitter, Spotify, Dropbox, Linked in to define their goals and measure the outcome. It has been deemed as an effective method to set goals and actually achieve significant growth for businesses, not just in terms of revenues but also in terms of creating a more engaged and motivated workforce

The O stands for the objective, which tells teams and individuals the larger goals of a company. These goals are aspirational and can be about growth, change or innovation. Examples can be-to increase customer engagement or to develop a more sustainable business model

The KR are the Key Results which refer to measurable goals needed to achieve the larger goal in the objective. For instance, if the objective is to increase customer engagement, the KRS could be to solve 100 customer complaints in a day, and respond to messages from 60 customers on social media on a daily basis. 

The OKR methodology is a process of setting and aligning company and team goals (objectives) and connecting each objective with three to five key results.

What is the need of OKRs for remote teams?

Studies have shown how remote work can lead to feelings of alienation and loneliness among employees. In the UK, over 9 million people (more than the population of London) suffer from loneliness. Human beings crave for social connection and staying inside the house all day with the anxiety of their safety and uncertain times can make them feel low.

Virtual connections do happen but they can never substitute the energy that a face to face interaction can bring. With the distractions of home and family life, it can bring about a disconnection of the employee from the culture of the organisation they work for. 

There is a reason why the OKR methodology has been championed by category leaders in the likes of Google. Amazon, Linkedin, Spotify, Dropbox, etc. Google’s co-founder Larry Page has attributed OKRs as a key reason behind Google’s success. The basic reason how OKRS lead to better performance among teams and organisations can be explained by psychology.

okr guide for remote work teams

What are the benefits of OKRs for remote work?

OKRS allow you to set and communicate the most important goals in your organisation in an orga focused and measurable manner. OKRS are especially beneficial if you have remote teams spread a the world and you want a way to keep them all on the same page and connected to one another. Here are the ways in which OKRS can solve the challenges that remote work brings;

1. Enables robust communication

OKRs set collective goals which are decided mutually by everyone involved in achieving the goals. Because everyone is involved in the planning, they feel more connected to the goals from the very beginning. 

Secondly, each OKR is set within a specific time frame, like a quarter. Within this defined time period, teams have regular meetings and check-ins to discuss the status of the goals, how the processes can be improved, address the ad-hoc challenges and clearing backlogs.

2. It helps track personal and team progress

OKR is a simple tool to create engagement and alignment around mutually decided goals. With clearly defined and measurable goals, employees have the clarity and a clear sense of direction on what they should aspire to achieve. The regular check-in’s in an OK solution focus on measurable and quantitative ways to track progress on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis. This data is stored to keep coming back to and make adjustments and improvements, wherever required.

Individual progress of an employee as well as the progress of a team is regularly tracked in OKR, which gives a holistic view of the past, the present and what the future tasks look like. All the data is shared with the entire team, which ensures everybody can see the current status and track the OKRs.

3. Effective task prioritization

Promising tasks and following up on them requires focus clarity and support from peers: However, only $2 percent of employees believe that the way they spend their time matches with their organisation’s priorities. 

This number could be way lower for remote employees. It is easy to lose focus in a remote work environment. Constant interruptions at home, notifications on the phone and social media apps can make it very simple to fall into an abyss of distraction when working remotely.

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