Time As a Main Key Performance Indicator in Remote Work

Cristiana Tănase

8 minutes read

Time As a Main Performance Indicator in Remote Work

By now, enough time has passed since most companies started testing remote work, which gave them the opportunity to ascertain its peculiarities and to formulate an insight into the results they can achieve in the context of telecommuting. How do we measure key performance indicators in these new conditions? Does remote work change the way we define and understand KPIs? What are we measuring and how do we know if we have built an efficient flexible working model?

The Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

In his book, The Infinite Game, Simon Sinek highlights the example of companies that, driven by competitiveness, praise themselves as leaders in irrelevant top positions, based on figures taken out of context or torn from the overall economic realities: “we are number 1 in national sales”, “we have the largest number of customers”, “we are leaders in opening new branches”. Does all this automatically mean efficiency and real value?

KPIs measure the success of an organization or employee in achieving specific goals. They show how effective we really are, how much it costs us to achieve a certain result, how easy or, on the contrary, how slowly we progress towards our objectives.

A good management starts from defining the right performance indicators, suggestive of what we are interested in measuring. From financial indicators such as revenue growth, profit margin, revenue per customer to marketing indicators such as the number of new website visitors, organizations have numerous self-assessment possibilities at their disposal. 

We can define quantitative KPIs (e.g., the number of customers) or qualitative ones (e.g., the degree of customer satisfaction); overall business performance indicators or ones for each department in the company.

An essential KPI in remote work: time

The remote context, with all the advantages and challenges of working away from the office, directs our attention to a different way of evaluating performance. Paradoxically, although we no longer have our employees under direct supervision and we cannot physically see them in the office, working remotely stimulates us to prioritize our performance indicators differently and to measure what really matters.

In addition to productivity and financial results, which are relevant no matter where we work from, telecommuting transforms time into a key factor in evaluating employees and the entire organization

Thus, for a hybrid company, time-based performance indicators become highly relevant, such as: time to solve a task per employee, the number of tasks completed in a certain time span, response time to issues or urgent messages, time per team spent with a project etc.

In remote work, performance depends a lot on the employees’ self-motivation, on their ability to deliver results autonomously, on how effectively they manage to communicate with the rest of the team.

Time-based KPIs reflect all these skills. Therefore, in the remote context, by defining appropriate performance indicators, time becomes a resource that both employees and employers come to understand and capitalize on better.

Time: being on the right track versus a warning signal

Theoretically, remote work means gaining time because we are free from office distractions, we eliminate unnecessary meetings, we save the hours spent in traffic, and the overall flexibility keeps us more creative, satisfied and efficient. 

All this will be mirrored by high time-based performance indicators: we elegantly fit into deadlines, solve several tasks simultaneously or quickly start new projects.

But what if the time KPIs of our remote work don’t actually look as good as we would like them to? What kind of conclusions can we draw as a result? 

In cases like these, leaders should ask themselves whether adjustments are required at the employee or organization level:

• At the individual level, is there enough self-motivation and efficiency? How well does the employee communicate and collaborate with the rest of the team? Does he/she have everything he/she needs in order to carry out his work outside the office in optimal conditions? Is he/she too slow or does he/she deliver quick but superficial results? Is he/she working too long and hard, heading towards burnout?

• At the company level, how well are processes organized and correlated between departments? Is time being wasted on redundant activities? What actions can be taken in order to correct the delays?

In the increasingly changing and unpredictable reality of today’s economic environment, defining clear, successful, relevant key performance indicators that lead to concrete actions is also a way of connecting employees to the company’s goals. 

KPIs are in themselves a form of internal communication. They help everyone understand their organization’s objectives and the best ways to reach those destinations. More than ever, the widespread use of remote work nowadays demonstrates that a healthy organization knows how to measure and maximize time as a resource.

What does making the best of your working time mean to you?

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Written by Cristiana Tănase


Former bank officer for 12 years, I am currently testing entrepreneurial remote work and a self-taught way of life which combines different hobbies.

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