OKR: A New Language to Remote Work Management

Covid-19 has changed the way and the mindset people work. Although the Movement Control Order had been lifted partially in Malaysia since May 2020, many companies are not operating at its full capacity. Employees are getting used to social distancing and working from home.

While many employers are concerned about remote employees’ productivity, in the middle of May, Twitter confirmed that it would allow some of its workforce to work from home forever if they choose to do so. This decision reflects a new norm in the corporate world post-Covid-19 pandemic.

Covid-19 will not be around forever, but why did Twitter take the initiative to offer this benefit to its employees? Remote work is not something new to the corporate world, but it has become popular because of the pandemic. To employers, there are many advantages to working from home.

The immediate benefits are the company’s overhead costs, such as rental, utility bills, and employee traveling allowance are reduced. Many employees’ working hours become longer because they can cut traveling time. When employees can plan their work and life well, their productivity is higher as the disruption from their colleagues or managers is minimized when they are working at home.

Before Covid-19, there were some companies already offering working from home as an employee benefit. And it greatly improved employee satisfaction and retention. However, to most companies who are used to face-to-face communication, they struggle to manage employee performance and engage remote employees.

How to engage all levels of remote employees, maintain high productivity, and achieve company goals? A management strategy tool called OKR (Objective Key Results) can help.

OKR was introduced by Google investor John Doerr to the company in 1999 and it resulted in 10- time growth for Google. It is a management strategy and mindset to enable employees to take ownership and transform the impossible to “I am possible”.

Because of Google’s successful application of OKR, during the past 20 years, more companies, from the global 500 fortune to the local SME, started to adopt OKR to facilitate team collaboration, business growth, and business innovation.

In remote work, managers and leaders come across significant challenges like virtual communication and collaboration, decision making, and accountability. These challenges, on the other side, offer new opportunities for them to develop skills in how to engage a remote workforce and delivery results during the economic recession. OKR is famous for objectives management and it reduces the gap between company goals and daily employee execution.

Under OKR, managers and employees will need to review the team’s objectives regularly by having team meetings and one-to-one performance coaching. The frequent interaction allows both managers and employees to develop more trust and bonding that increase productivity and fulfillment of the company’s goals.

To sum up, remote work is the trend now and will become more popular as youths come to the corporate world. As long as the challenges of employee performance management are addressed, both employers and employees will enjoy the flexibility, high productivity, and cost reduction that remote work brings.

What are the effective actions your company takes to overcome the challenges in remote working? Feel free to share with us your best practices.

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