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Key Takeaways:

  •  Setting OKRs is not only important for meeting your strategic business goals but also for holding your remote teams accountable.

  •  Regular check-ins and open communication are important components of any OKR.

  •  Time tracking tools such as the best employee time tracking software Insightful allow you to gain insight into OKR progress by tracking hours worked.

Read time: 6 minutes

Many of the most successful companies in the world, like Google, utilize one not-so-secret weapon – OKRs (objectives and key results). OKR is a goal-setting methodology that can help teams focus on business areas that need to be improved.

OKRs can be crucial in evaluating remote teams. It can also help in keeping them aligned, focused, and engaged. They can translate your company's strategy into bite-sized and straightforward pieces so that all of your employees know that they are working on the right thing.

In this blog post, we will walk you through everything related to OKRs, including exactly what they are, how to write them, and how to implement them at your remote company, along with remote worker monitoring software to track productivity.

What is an OKR?

OKRs, or objectives and key results, are a two-part system for setting goals.

Objectives: your company's broad, aspirational goals. For example, an objective could be to increase sales in the next six months.

Key Results: the specific and measurable outcomes that you set and use to define what a successful objective looks like. Key results are your goals that are more specific. An example of a key result is Increasing the number of products sold by 50 per month.

In other words, objectives are the main goals that have to be achieved, and the key results are metrics you keep an eye on to ensure that you are still on the right track to reach the objectives.

Together, they form a symbiotic relationship whereby the objectives set the vision and the key results provide you with a measurable pathway to achieve that vision.

The real power of OKRs is how they can guide you through setting your goals each quarter. OKRs put goals into the context of your company (or your team) as they relate to each other.

OKRs are useful in a remote work context because they promote proper work alignment - even when teams are distant - and can help support coordinated progress toward your company’s strategic goals.

What Are the Benefits of OKRs for Remote Teams?

OKRs can help you align your team and adapt to the ever-changing business world. Since remote teams, by their nature, can face challenges such as a lack of alignment and clear communication, OKRs are often a necessary part of any remote team culture.

Faster Learning and Adaptability

In 2024, many companies find themselves in a challenging and precarious position. With an economic recession on the horizon and many other external factors threatening to eat into their bottom line, they need to learn quickly and adapt to changes faster than ever before. 

This could include everything from restructuring some of your workflows or processes to even changing your entire business model. Since OKRs are set quarterly, it is possible to make changes quickly if something your company does is not delivering the results you expect.

Based on the business realities that surface each quarter, companies can pivot their position and make swift changes to keep up with the rapidly changing market.

Clarity and Direction

It might be hard for your employees to figure out how to work the right way so that they can achieve their own and company goals. But since OKRs set priorities, they also help set the team in the right direction. 

If your employees know what they are doing at all times, it will help them feel calmer and more secure.

Seeing the Real Results

If you focus Objectives on the real areas of your business that need improving and if the Key Results are truly measurable outcomes, then seeing the actual progress and improvements can motivate your team to achieve even more.

Alignment and Prioritization 

OKRs should be set with the entire team. No matter what they do, and what their tasks are, the end goals for everyone should be the same. 

OKRs can also boost the motivation of your remote team. Since OKRs set the priorities, whenever an employee is not sure what task to do first, they can reference OKRs to make that decision.

How to Implement OKRs in Your Remote Setup

To implement OKRs in your remote company, you first need to introduce the methodology to your employees and ensure that all of them understand it. Only if all of your employees are aware of the benefits, can they be engaged with OKRs. 

Which is why it’s so important to prioritize education first and foremost. Before setting up your OKRs, ensure that every team member understands what they are and why they’re beneficial.

Creative Brainstorming

Next, encourage creative brainstorming to identify the best OKRs for strategic alignment and progress toward your business goals. They do not have to be complete OKRs just yet, but make sure that everyone participates in the brainstorming process. 

You can leverage digital collaborative tools such as the Miro virtual whiteboard to allow everyone on your team to pitch in and provide their input. This will help create complete buy-in from every individual, and invite as many perspectives as possible.

When everyone has laid out their ideas, have a sit-down (virtual) meeting to discuss them and choose which of them will be turned into OKRs. This process will give your employees a better feel of what OKRs stand for, and what they are exactly.

Crafting Specific OKRs

Once you have a general idea about your OKRs, you need to create specific Objectives. The more specific you are, the easier it will be to measure success. For example, instead of using a generic term such as ‘increase sales’, a better Objective might be to ‘expand  European market share’.

Based on those Objectives you have just established, you should work on finding measurable outcomes that will help you achieve your Objectives.  

Align OKRs with Professional Development

Once your objectives are in place, you need to make sure that they’re aligned with the professional development of your employees.

OKRs that only help you achieve business goals can be effective for making progress quickly, but they miss out on a huge opportunity to benefit your employees in the process.

To align OKRs with professional development, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Stick to growth-oriented objectives: Whenever you set an OKR, consider how they might require new skills, and how that might benefit your workforce.
  • Provide learning opportunities: In tandem with your OKRs, it can be a good idea to provide complementary learning opportunities that help your employees keep up and upskill along the way.
  • Make space to recognize and reward: OKRs provide an excellent opportunity to recognize and reward employee activities based on specific actions and progress made.

Measuring Progress

When you have set your goals, you need to work with your team to make them happen and measure the progress of your employees. The best way to follow the progress of OKRs for each of your remote employees is by knowing how to monitor employees working from home

You can use remote worker monitoring software solution Insightful, a workforce productivity and analytics tool, to measure how your employees progress with their team and company-wide OKRs.

With the ‘office vs remote’ feature, you can track activity just as well in the office as at home, so you can make sure that all your employees and teams are on the same page and making meaningful progress towards the same goals.

Leverage Technology for OKR Success

As well as tracking the fine details such as tasks completed and hours spent on various projects with Insightful, you might also benefit from leveraging other software solutions to track your OKRs over time.

For example, there are several project management solutions that can add visibility to your OKR setting and tracking process. Tools like Asana and give you access to advanced data analytics which can clue you in on overall project progress and help inform your strategic goals.

You can also find automation tools that help with your daily workflows, such as Zapier, since they will free up time you spend on trivial tasks allowing you to zero in on activities that most move the needle in terms of your OKRs.

If you don’t currently have a tech stack that allows you to plan, visualize, and track your OKRs, it’ll be much more difficult to measure success over time and ensure you remain on the right trajectory to achieve your strategic goals.

Best Practices for OKRs in Remote Settings

Finally, we’ll leave you with some best practices for OKRs in remote settings. That way, you can make the most of them in your company and be as clear as possible on how you can use them to reach your strategic goals.

There are three best practices to adhere to to get the most out of OKRs in a remote setting:

  1.  Regular check-ins - You need to establish regular check-ins if you want to see the impact that OKRs can have on your remote teams. Set a cadence, such as weekly or bi-weekly, and check in with your teams to make sure everyone is still on track and has everything they need to hit their goals.

  1.  Course correction - Even with the best, most well-thought-out OKRs, you still need to be flexible. If something in the market changes, for example, you might have to pivot direction and rethink your OKRs. You should also be willing to learn from missed Objectives to inform future success.

  2.  Open communication - Any remote team will benefit from open communication. Plus, this level of transparency can be crucial for meeting your OKRs. You want your employees to feel as if they can voice their concerns or suggestions at any point, so you can adjust your course if necessary.

Achieving Success with OKRs

OKRs can be a tremendous methodical tool for almost any company. The more your employees understand company goals, the better you will be in achieving them. OKRs can help you in doing just that. 

The key to being successful with OKRs is to implement them in the right way from the start. Take the time to plan carefully and adequately assess each of them. OKRs are only as effective as you are willing to commit to them.

Updated on January 5th, 2024

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