In the UK and mainland Europe, working from home or remote working increased by 25% between 2008 to 2018. In this COVID-19 era in 2021, the way startups and scaleups think about the “workplace” is forever changed. Shifting the concept of the physical world to a virtual one. In this post we look at how Objective and Key Results (OKRs) can help scaleups flourish with remote and hybrid teams.
Scaleups are defined by the OECD as companies with at least 10 employees that average annualised growth of 20% or higher over three years. For these high-growth ventures, remote working comes with an abundance of benefits. Not just for employees, but for managers and employers too.
What a difference a year makes
Working from Home and hybrid workforces may be the most obvious approach in 2021 and beyond but this is difficult for managers to incorporate. Considering home-based employees may feel marginalized with office-based staff averse to listen to those they’ve never met. However, supporters of all-remote working predict the best talent will leave for all-remote companies, citing that location flexibility will win out.
Scaling up with okrs
Even with an all-star team full of strong expertise, it‘s hard to create a long-lasting company. We consider a scaleup in the third or fourth phase of their growth. Where there is a science and predictable returns, investing resources quickly and getting a big return without the wheels coming off the bus.
- MVP (Minimum Viable Product) stage –a version of the product with the most cut-down features to be usable by early customers for feedback.
- Startup — launched the product and experimenting to find a fit in the market.
- Scaleup — Found product-market fit and acquiring customers for X to get at least a 3x return.
- Scaleup — Working like a machine, investing lots of cash to maintain the 3x ratio or more.
By definition, scaleups have hit product-market fit; that means they’re no longer consumed with finding a sustainable, repeatable business model, but rather, executing on it. As startups become scaleups, however, they’re attacked by incumbents on one side, and upstarts on the other.
The tenacious workers that make it through the initial phases face the complicated task of aligning the company towards a common goal that seems ever-changing in a competitive and post-pandemic; more fickle landscape.
Challenges managing work from home teams
A recent McKinsey study found only 52% of respondents believe that how they spend their time matches with their organisation’s priorities. When working remotely, this figure could be even lower as being away from the office could make it difficult to focus. With many processes moving online, employees are feeling swamped with distracting notifications. On the flipside, remote employees benefit from avoiding the distractions of the office and a stressful commute.
- Potentially decreased individual and team productivity due to lack of accountability
- Lower efficiency working from home as employees balance work and personal responsibilities
- Changing priorities can cause a lack of alignment on common goals between different teams
- Lack of visibility into shared progress and shared goals
OKRs for working from home teams
While the concept of remote work is not new, few of us could have foreseen a situation in 2021 where it would become the “new normal”.
However, for scaleup teams working remotely presents both opportunities and challenges. For managers of a disparate team finding ways to align the entire team in these uncertain times is a significant challenge. So, how do you align everyone in the company; describing how their work contributes to overall company goals and how it aligns with the work of their peers?
Meet OKRs – the Objectives and Key Results goal-setting methodology help teams focus on areas that need improvement. The “O” represents objectives (high-level goals) and the “KR” represents measurable key results. It has helped Google, Dropbox, Amazon, and other tech behemoths assign so much of their success to them. With OKRs you can set transparent, measurable goals ensuring people across the business focus on the same priorities and track their progress towards those goals.
Autonomy is the fuel for your scaleup – the perfect balance of alignment and autonomy is a good indicator of success. However, getting this balance right without creating process problems or chaos is tricky. OKRs at their core are about setting collective goals, especially when working from a distance, employees feel unfamiliar with new processes, but OKRs tie everyone together to scale your business.
Benefits of OKRs
Faster learning and adaptability
In these unpredictable times, for a remote company to survive and thrive learning fast and adapting to market changes is crucial. Restructuring processes or workflows to even changing the entire business model. OKRs are generally set quarterly but this can also be tailored to the team’s preference, therefore it’s possible to be agile and make changes dynamically if the results your business expects aren’t met.
Keeping aligned with okrs
OKRs are the vehicle for vertical alignment throughout your business as it scales. Linking strategy and execution together. With objectives in black and white for the entire team, OKRs make business goals transparent for everyone at the company. Transparency leads to collaboration and uncovers redundant areas, helping teams to save time and your business money.
Managing isolation in remote teams is difficult. Common team goals help people to feel less confused boosting their motivation. If your team knows what they are doing at all times, it encourages a sense of calmness and feeling secure.
Some teams use a weekly confidence rating in OKR meetings to monitor how everyone is coping. Such a process allows for open communication reassuring employees that their input is valued. These metrics can later be used in the evaluation stage to identify areas for improvement.
OKRs help facilitate prioritisation by empowering employees to say ‘no’ to any activity that is not related to the objective. They also make it explicitly clear what to pay the most attention to, and, how to do it. In having a common team goal, there is a shared endpoint for every team member to work towards, and thus a heightened driving force in the same direction.
How do OKRs work for hybrid teams, you ask? First, introduce the methodology to your employees and ensure that all of them understand it. To avoid OKR pitfalls and the failure of your OKR implementation, talk to us. At 7startup, using our SaaS tool + consulting methodology we can help you improve alignment, productivity, engagement, and performance. Fast.