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Using OKRs in Remote Teams

OKRs for remote teams

According to world statistics, the growth of remote work occurred exponentially before the events of recent years. But a significant part of the business has switched to remote work under quarantine conditions. This is where the complexity of work in remote teams comes in, exposing long-standing problems.

In the current circumstances, the question arises of how to build communication with subordinates and motivate them. People who start working remotely need time for these work processes to become a habit. Not in the office, near the manager or colleagues, employees feel like they are missing something important, anxiety rises, and productivity drops. This adds stress from the external situation and fears for their work and loved ones. Under such conditions, a person can practically not do simple operational work and, even more so, generate new ideas. 

Luckily, OKRs can help you get over these challenges. This methodology can keep your team aligned and focused even if everyone is working from home. Here, we’ll look at how to run a remote team until people understand what they need to do. This article will walk you through implementing OKR in a remote team and the practical things you need to do to be successful. 

Why should remote teams use OKRs?

OKRs are a popular method for goal setting. It helps teams focus on what needs to be done and improved at the team and company levels.

Unlike the usual goal-setting system, where senior executives determine the vision and strategic goals by delegating and breaking them down, OKR goes in the opposite direction. In this case, each department, team, or specialist defines goals that align with a single strategy. Again, this increases flexibility within the company.

These points help to form a remote team:

  • set OKRs for each team member to specify task deadlines and the scope of work. Clear step-by-step goals linked to time help a person see his responsibility and plan time for solving a problem;
  • defining goals shows you the team’s load and tracking of possible failures;
  • the system of control and motivation will improve discipline and remove the risk of losing working time.

The system allows employees to express ideas and implement their projects, see their contribution to achieving the company’s goals, set ambitious goals for themselves, and not be afraid to experiment.

OKR helps leaders coordinate team projects among themselves and focus on specific goals.

How to implement OKRs in a remote team

If your organization has too many teams, you can start by implementing OKRs in one or two teams as a pilot project to see how you can best customize them. But if you have a small group, you can connect the whole company at the same time.

Here are the steps that will work for any remote team manager.

  1. For implementing OKRs in your remote team, you first need to introduce the methodology to employees and ensure they all understand it. Only if all your employees understand the benefits can they get involved in using OKRs.
  2. Senior managers need to brainstorm primary company OKRs. For example, they could be quarterly or annually, which can help form the company’s direction.
  3. After brainstorming company OKRs, they should be determined and shared with the team. Objectives can be highly inspirational, qualitative, and mostly a vision the company strives to achieve. A company should have at most five objectives per quarter. Too many goals can be confusing for employees.
  4. Then it would help if you came up with several OKR ideas with the team. Brainstorming with your remote employees is excellent and can bring many ideas. Everyone must participate in this process. Once everyone has presented their opinions, you all need to discuss them and decide which ones will be implemented in the OKR. This process will give your employees a better sense of what OKRs stand for and exactly what they are. 
  5. One week after sharing team OKRs, employees share their own OKRs. This may require setting up a call to discuss between employees and managers. 
  6. Set a time frame for reaching your goals. The timing will depend on the goals and understanding how many hours it will take to complete them. While most companies work quarterly, your team can set OKRs for a week or a month. This time should be enough to help employees achieve their goals and not create unnecessary pressure.
  7. Do regular control. Because OKR implementation may take some time, keeping track of quarterly progress is key to meeting these goals. Tracking progress with regular team check-ins is essential to determine how the journey progresses. Have weekly calls with the remote team to discuss progress on each key result. Find what’s working or requires modification, and trust your employees to reach their goals. 
  8. Toward the end of the quarter, employees evaluate their OKRs, manage self-assessments, and review their achievements.

Setting up and implementing OKRs for remote teams can be tricky. But when it’s done right, it can bring incredible outcomes for businesses and employees.

Take the friction out of managing OKRs and implement the framework with ease.