Why was productivity up? 

Technology executives told us that the “new normal” of remote work meant that software development teams had fewer interruptions and reduced context switching – changing focus from one task to another – which was driving increased productivity, especially on existing projects.

How do you measure productivity?

The survey revealed a lack of commonly agreed measurements of production and quality in remote work, across the banking, investment management, and energy and commodities trading sectors, and sometimes even within organisations which may be understandable given the suddenness this was thrust upon the organisations involved.

We found that many businesses use dashboards of “hard” project deliverables and end of day output, with KPIs related to P&L, credit risk, market data delivery, model risk delivery, problem diagnosis, lead time and code commits, to name a few.  Some businesses use applications that measure percentage of time allocated to each task or application, but many respondents thought these were easy to “game” and not always meaningful.

Another important consideration in measurement were “soft” factors.  Many executives reported that they develop strong working relationships with business clients to ensure satisfaction which they assessed in qualitative, anecdotal terms.  Similarly, employee productivity requires a nuanced approach combining quantitative and qualitative assessment, a focus on outcomes rather than outputs, and a management approach that creates a remote working environment that inspires motivation and engagement.

Better engagement means better outcomes 

There is a strong correlation between highly engaged teams and better business outcomes.  Technology is not just about efficiency but about humanising businesses and bringing people together around a strong, shared mission – so they are liberated to do work they want to do and develop technology users want to use.

An approach focussed on engagement can take many forms.  For example, at Digiterre we have a Virtual Monthly Meetup where people can turn up in a funny hat or with a whacky drinking cup according to a theme which changes each month – last time it was Masquerade Ball!  A seemingly trivial metric such as how many people show up with a hat or cup can speak volumes about employee engagement.

There are many Agile practices and tools available that can be deployed to ensure people in distributed teams are fully engaged through inclusive, interactive, and collaborative best practice.  It will be fascinating to see how these approaches develop as organisations transition to a staged re-opening of offices and a hybrid remote work model.  Ultimately, everyone in the organisation should feel connected, informed and valued, and businesses should focus on inspiring performance, not tracking it.

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