Measuring Productivity – In or Out of the Office


By Molly Wood, SPHR, MAOL Senior HR Consultant

We hear this all the time, “I need my employees in the office because I don’t feel like they are as productive working from home!” The pandemic brought telework to an unprecedented high in the U.S., and while there are many benefits for businesses, including lowered utility bills, possible reduced office rent, and decrease in other business expenses, a lot of managers and owners are just not comfortable having their employees be remote.

The underlying question to address this concern is, how do you know that they are productive when they are onsite? There are plenty of distractions in an office environment, such as chatty co-workers, too hot/too cold temperature controls, unexpected visitor drop-ins, and noise from office-mates – to name a few. These distractions can have more of an impact on work output than taking 10 minutes to change over a load of laundry.

So, the question is not where are they sitting, but what are they doing? Here are some tips to monitor employee success wherever the workplace is:

  • Have a written job description with Essential Functions.

There are so many reasons that accurate and comprehensive job descriptions are valuable to the organization, not the least of which is, you know what your employee is supposed to be doing. Sometimes monitoring productivity can be easy, like if you have an outgoing call quota. Other times it may be more challenging, like when a software update needs to be written. The main thing is to know what the key factors are in a job well done and hold employees accountable to those.

  • Be sure to have your regular 1:1 meetings.

Regular meetings to get an update on the status of projects will keep you informed of what your employee is doing on a day-to-day basis. If the employee’s response to, “what are you up to?” is vague, or if the projects they are completing don’t seem to be enough to fill a workweek, talk to them about it. Do you have an additional project that they could be working on? Or do you need to reassess the business needs in regard to staffing levels? Again, this could be the case whether the employee is working in the office or remotely.

  • Address productivity issues.

Rather than making productivity issues about employee’s location, address the real problem. People can spend just as much time on non-work-related activities in the office as anywhere else. If it seems that a staff member’s output does not justify their pay, that is the topic that needs to be discussed. It’s also important not to penalize your top performers by demanding an in-office policy due to the poor work ethic of others.

The pandemic changed the way that we work and there is no stopping it. The most successful businesses adapt to these developments and come out all the stronger.

If you need help identifying and addressing productivity issues, give SDEA’s HR Consultants a call. We are HeRe with you. 858-505-0024


Contact us: 858.505.0024