Challenges and Solutions Performance Management in Remote Work Environments

performance review
Anshika Mishra
December 8 2023

Whether in an offline or online workplace, performance management has always been a crucial catalyst to drive the maximum efficiency and productivity of a team. With remote employees taking the front seat, it’s more important than ever.

But with this dynamic shift to a distributed remote workforce, managers need to align their best practices with the new reality.

So, if you’re in a dilemma about the challenges and solutions to effective executive performance management for your remote team, here are the answers.

Challenges of Performance Management in Remote Work Environments

Remote and hybrid work has an overwhelming effect on productivity and an outstanding work-life balance (most times). But it’s not without challenges – especially regarding employee performance management.

Here are the four primary challenges:

Communication Gaps: Missed or misread emails, chat messages arriving at busy moments, or lost contextual cues. Then, there are language and cultural barriers for international remote teams working in different time zones, leading to more confusion.

Employee Engagement and Motivation: Remote employees often feel disconnected from their company’s mission and their impact on the ‘bigger picture.’ This can lead to decreased employee engagement and motivation—thus costing their productivity and accountability.

Balancing Flexibility and Productivity: 47% of remote workers feel that their line between work and family time is blurred. Here, balancing productivity and providing flexibility in working and learning becomes a challenge.

Difficulty in Monitoring and Assessing Performance: With multiple managers and managing styles, standardizing the review process of remote employees’ performance can take time and effort.

Addressing these performance management challenges can, therefore, help improve employee engagement, results, and overall success. Plus, by adopting these changes in your employee onboarding and management strategies, you can improve workplace performance and employee retention rate from the get-go.

Best Practices for Effective Performance Management in Remote Work

Now that you know the major challenges, let’s see how to solve them and effectively manage your remote team’s performance (with real-life case studies).

Establish a Robust Communication Strategy

Crystal-clear communication is at the core of effective performance management. In L&D, a robust communication strategy builds a thriving virtual learning environment—where learners can interact with each other using various mediums like forums, polls, discussions, briefs, etc.

Leverage communication technology (video conferencing and virtual meetings) to set clear goals. Incorporate a time management app to help your remote team effectively manage their time while ensuring seamless communication and hours of availability.

Even better, use a unified communication platform to centralize all your video conferencing, calls, instant messages, team collaboration tools, digital telephony, and data exchange needs in one place.

Also, encourage regular feedback sessions to keep your team in the loop and identify areas of learning and growth.

 

Case Study: Asynchronous Communication

Zapier, a fully remote company dealing in automation tools, emphasizes asynchronous communication. Plus, they have well-defined performance metrics for each team member.

This focus on clear expectations and outcomes enables Zapier employees to work effectively from different time zones.

Implement Outcome-Based Performance Metrics

Your employees will always perform better if they know the exact results you expect, and outcome-based performance metrics are a great way to achieve just that.

Here’s how you can create an outcome-based performance model for your remote team:

  • Align learning objectives and organization goals.
  • Clearly define measurable learning outcomes.
  • Use learning analytics and technology (learning management systems) for easy monitoring.

Of course, more than implementing these metrics is needed. You must dig into numbers to run an effective L&D-focused performance management program. Track their performance following the training sessions and understand the rate of improvement.

Though the metrics will show progress, it’s always better to let your employees know they are being heard. Ask your remote team for feedback, see if the new program meets their needs, and what changes you can make to accommodate them better.

Don’t forget to integrate advanced tech, like static IP addresses, into your learning analytics. It’ll ensure secure and reliable monitoring of your remote team’s professional and L&D activities.

 

Case Study: Outcome-Focused

Automattic (the company behind WordPress) has a fully distributed remote team. The company focuses on outcomes and results rather than traditional office hours. This has enabled them to attract the top global talents and maintain a strong, high-performance remote work culture.

Leverage Technology for Monitoring and Tracking

Technology is the bridge that connects remote employees with your organization. Fortunately, with a range of advanced tools to help you, physical distance is no longer a hurdle in bettering your employees’ performance management.

These are some of the most common technologies to monitor, track, and manage your remote team performance:

  • Video conferencing tools
  • Project management software
  • Collaboration and document-sharing platforms
  • Instant messaging software.

Above all, use time and attendance software to gain real-time visibility of your employees’ working hours, attendance patterns, and related data. Along with managing performance, this data can become the foundation for tracking accountability and efficiency, thus helping you improve overall organizational operations.

But, while tools like these are commonplace—don’t assume that all your remote employees are equally trained in them. Provide them with the basics of each platform to help them get on equal footing and reap the most out of the tools.

 

Case Study: HubSpot’s Data-Driven Approach

Integrating tech tools like CRM systems, communication platforms, and more, Hubspot uses real-time employee data to assess their performance, measure KPIs, and provide real-time feedback to their remote teams.

Invest in Professional Development and Training

Over the next decade, employees will only take jobs that technology can’t do well—jobs involving higher-order creative, critical, and innovative thinking and higher social and emotional intelligence.

This will make life-long learning a crucial part of sustaining high-end talents. That’s why you need to start investing in professional L&D—and the performance management process can be a great start to assess the capabilities of your remote team and craft personalized development plans.

When performance management and learning come together, your remote team will:

  • Understand their performance issues.
  • Receive a solution that improves their performance in the form of a learning experience.
  • Know when and who to follow up with when needed.

Remember how integrating the two can improve employee satisfaction, retention, and organizational performance.

Following are some practical ways you can address skill gaps and training needs of your remote team:

  • Build a wiki of training and development material that employees can access anytime.
  • Encourage your employees to present virtually at major conferences.
  • Allow them to manage a few remote employees.

Virtual corporate events are another fun way to make L&D a part of your remote work culture. You can organize virtual events where your employees can learn new skills from one another. Along with improving performance, these events will also aid in employee engagement – a win-win for both you and your workforce.

 

Case Study: $1.2 Billion Upskilling Program

Amazon is investing $1.2 billion in providing free education to its employees for career advancement within the organization. The eCommerce giant also pays college tuition for its front-line employees—one of the reasons behind Amazon’s impressive employee performance.

Every organization’s performance management process for remote teams looks a little different. But, as managers, you must anchor your organizations in the “new normals” and lead your employees through these changes.

While the best practices we shared with you work, an all-in-one employee performance management software can allow you to manage the whole process most efficiently. Folks HR’s platform can help you create a holistic remote performance management process from annual reviews to regular check-ins to continuous feedback.

Couple the tips mentioned above with our employee performance management software—you’ll soon unlock the real potential of your remotely distributed team.

Improve your remote employee performance management processes:

Folks HR's performance evaluation software is effective and customizable!

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Anshika Mishra is a freelance B2B SaaS writer with a knack for everything digital marketing. Her background is in marketing and sales, and she loves creating meaningful content that sparks inspirational magic. When not writing, she can be found with a chocolate latte and her new favorite book series.

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