7 Tips for Conducting Performance Reviews With Remote Employees

May 16, 2022
7 Tips for Conducting Performance Reviews With Remote Employees
After working during a pandemic for several years, many companies are beginning to reimagine what remote work looks like. In 2020, remote performance reviews looked different as companies navigated life during a pandemic. Many companies hope to create a sense of normalcy even if they choose to be a permanent remote organization. This guide will show you the impact of working from home and how to conduct remote employee reviews.

The shift to and impacts of remote work

remote jobs get 7 times more applicants than in-person roles. 

Over the past few years, remote work has drastically impacted companies. One of the largest impacts of widespread remote work is that employees expect it now. Before the pandemic, around 75% of workers had never worked from home before. The pandemic saw a dramatic increase in remote work, and at the height of the pandemic, 35% of Americans worked from home. While this number has since decreased dramatically and many employees are back in the office, many workers want to return to remote work. Recent data from CareerBuilder suggests that remote jobs get 7 times more applicants than in-person roles. Simply put, people want to continue working remotely.

Remote work and performance reviews

At the beginning of the pandemic, there was a lot of flexibility with employee assessments. Remote work was new for a lot of companies, and we were dealing with a global pandemic that was new to everyone. Now that we know more about managing these challenges, remote performance reviews need a revamp. Companies must learn how to conduct helpful reviews, even if employees work from home.

How to conduct remote reviews

As we move into the stage of remote work by choice (rather than necessitated by a global pandemic), we need to reassess how we manage performance. Here are some strategies to help you do so in a remote world.

1. Utilize software to conduct peer and self-evaluations

When you are working remotely, utilizing software helps save time and energy. Handling a performance evaluation and making sure you get information from employees on time can feel like a full-time job. As a manager, you have other priorities besides keeping up with what's been turned in and sending out reminders. Instead of struggling with these details, let performance management software do that for you.

2. Ensure that you meet with other managers for performance review calibrations

After doing peer, self, and manager evaluations, meet with other company leaders. Performance review calibrations are essential, even when you work remotely. They help ensure that everyone is judged accurately and fairly across the company. It can be challenging to find a time that works for everyone. Work with leaders to find an uninterrupted block of time dedicated to conducting a calibration session. Before the session, decide who is being reviewed and which managers need to speak. Having an agenda set before this meeting can help to streamline everything.

3. Schedule enough time to have an honest conversation

When scheduling a remote review, make sure you schedule enough time. A typical performance review lasts 30 minutes to an hour. When conducting a remote review, give this window some breathing room. Even an employee who is always on time might be dealing with an Internet connectivity issue. You also want to book buffer time around your reviews. It can be disheartening to be in the middle of a constructive conversation when your manager needs to drop off for another meeting. Give yourself at least 30 minutes on either side to prepare and decompress from a remote performance review.
A typical performance review lasts 30 minutes to an hour. When conducting a remote review, give this window some breathing room.

4. Conduct performance reviews in a private room

Remote employee reviews can be challenging for workers. You may be giving constructive criticism that is hard to hear. Employees should never feel attacked, even on a remote call. Limit the number of people in the room during a performance review. If you feel like you'll need some extra support, it might be worth it to let employees know about additional attendees ahead of the call.

5. Turn cameras on during the performance evaluation

Many employees have gotten used to having cameras off during company meetings. Turning your camera off can have a positive environmental impact and make remote work easier. However, if you choose to have cameras on during the review, everyone needs to show up professionally. Dress the part and turn your camera on for your employee. Expect the same behavior in return. For many employees, performance reviews are the time when they can get candid feedback on their work. All parties must be ready to provide great feedback.

6. Avoid distractions and turn off notifications

Working online comes with a slew of potential distractions. As a leader, you need to make sure that you keep distractions at bay during this time. Here are a few ways to reduce distractions so you can focus on a remote annual review:
  • Let your team and other leaders know that you'll be going dark for a few hours to complete a review.
  • Turn off notifications to apps like Slack and Microsoft Teams.
  • Put your phone in another room to avoid getting on it during the meeting.
  • Reduce outside distractions by keeping your family in the loop about your work.
  • Focus on active listening so that employees receive undivided attention.

7. Schedule follow-ups as needed

After completing the performance review, you need to give employees a chance to decompress. Virtual conversations can be taxing, and you want to make sure that employees understand what you've shared. Give employees a chance to reflect on the review, look over their results, and think about their next steps. You can schedule a separate follow-up or use your one-on-one time to further discuss what happened during the performance review.

You can host effective performance reviews remotely

If your company plans to transition to a remote organization, it can be challenging to move in-person procedures online. At the height of the pandemic, many companies were still trying to figure it out. As organizations move into a remote-by-choice experience, you must create smoother processes. By following the strategies we've outlined, you can make remote performance reviews a permanent part of your experience.

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