It’s been said that remote work is the future of work. Owl Labs’ 2020 State of Remote Work report shows that one in two people don’t plan to return to jobs that don’t offer remote work. In light of this, more companies are now adopting the work-from-home setup, with 80 percent saying the model is essential to happiness and satisfaction.
We know that remote working presents lots of benefits to both the employers and employees. For instance, less commuting means fewer expenses and more time to work. Remote workers get more scheduling flexibility while employers enjoy increased productivity.
However, managing teams distributed across time zones has many challenges, chief among them is how to keep them focused, engaged, and motivated.
Amid all the distractions that working remotely poses, setting remote work objectives can help steer your teams in the right direction. When implemented correctly, the Objective and Key Results (OKRs) framework allows leaders and remote teams to overcome the challenges of remote working.
It’s one of the effective strategies that ensure employees stay productive, continue to grow, and are on the path to success.
Why Is Setting Professional Goals Important?
Edward Locke and Gary Latham (1990), leaders in goal-setting theory, have this to say about goal setting. Goals not only affect job performance as well as behavior, but they also help stimulate energy, which leads to a higher effort. Higher effort translates to persistent effort, which eventually leads to success.
If you haven’t already started setting individual goals within your organization, now’s the time. You need everyone on your team on the same page and working toward the same outcome.
Tech companies like Airbnb, Google, Intel, and Spotify use the OKR methodology to connect remote teams with a wider business goal. It’s also an effective strategy for startups looking to achieve scalability.
The OKR concept entails setting an “Objective” to guide you or your employees to know where they are going. You then set the “Key Results”, which measure the success of the objective.
OKRs offer practical ways to define your career goals and track progress in your professional life. It also keeps you and your teams focused and aligned, hence encouraging growth.
Effective leadership involves tailoring OKRs to suit remote teams in a way that instills desired outcomes in their minds.
Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals for Remote Employees
Nothing kills team morale and trust like micromanaging employees. Productive goals allow you to create independent teams that work together and as individuals towards an established objective.
Without clearly outlined goals, teams can encounter problems that may affect performance. That’s where you, as a team leader or manager, should step in and help your workforce set and work towards attainable and actionable goals.
The decrease in face-to-face communication can lead employees to create an ‘out-of-mind’ mentality, which can lower engagement. Where there’s a lack of engagement, workers can become uninspired and demotivated.
Each goal should be:
S.M.A.R.T goals improve employee effectiveness since team members will know what to deliver. Furthermore, you, as the manager, will be at peace knowing that teams are working toward a tangible objective.
Smart Goals for Remote Employees Examples
Below are a few examples of smart goals for remote workers:
- I will improve my research and public speaking skills and make time for rehearsals before each presentation.
- I’ll start improving my emotional intelligence to become less reactive and more proactive.
- I will find a mentor by the end of the month who can provide coaching and guidance to support my career development.
- I will expand my professional network by 20 percent by the end of this year. I’ll do so by attending at least two meetings per month.
- I will improve my personal performance and productivity in 2021. I’ll do so by setting priorities at the beginning of each day, week, and month to help me achieve my goals.
Benefits of Setting Goals for Remote Teams
Boosts Morale and Motivation
Goal setting serves as a motivation driver. It allows you to develop strategies that enable you to perform better. In the 1968 article Toward a Theory of Task Motivation, Locke explained that clear goals and appropriate feedback acted as a good motivator for employees.
The research revealed that working toward a goal is a significant source of motivation, which, in turn, boosts performance.
OKRs provide quantifiable results, and once teams see real and measurable progress in their work, they feel motivated.
Encourages Team Engagement and Alignment
The lack of face-to-face interaction can leave teams feeling isolated and lacking purpose. However, setting common goals that employees work toward creates a sense of purpose and encourages them to push their limits.
Additionally, goals help remote workers beat procrastination. They realize time wasted can never be recovered and that it’s another day they aren’t moving closer to achieving their goals.
The result is a more engaged workforce with the drive to achieve success.
Enables Managers to Track individual and Team Progress
Setting clearly defined and measurable goals provide remote employees with a clear direction of what to focus on. By regularly checking the OKRs, you can analyze the progress of employees’ performance and productivity.
You can then identify and address any difficulties along the way.
Goal Setting: Best Practices for Remote Teams
Now that you understand the importance of setting remote working objectives, how do you implement the OKR methodology within your remote staff?
- Introduce OKR to your team and discuss how it will benefit them.
- Set objectives and goals as a team. Hold a video conference to brainstorm ideas and work together to devise a list of measurable and desired outcomes. Organize follow-up meetings to give members time to digest the objectives and come up with some ideas.
- When it’s time to execute the objectives, be sure to check in regularly with the team. This allows you to see what challenges have arisen, so you can work through them together.
- Set reasonable deadlines for specific projects/tasks, and track how long it takes to complete them.
- Break down large goals into smaller ones that are achievable. Goals that are too big make it seem endless and may be a source of motivation problems.
- Lastly, ensure company goals align with those of remote employees. Setting SMART goals ensures you and your teams focus on aligning goals and priorities to manage time effectively.
Most importantly, approach implementing objectives and key results with caution. It’s not a quick fix to creating successful teams, but rather a long-term process to boost productivity and growth.
Keep in mind that remote working objectives needn’t be rigid. You may need to review and adjust goals now and then, depending on the current situation.
All said and done, setting clear and SMART goals not only keeps remote teams focused, but also improves engagement.