How to manage performance remotely

How to manage performance reviews remotely

As of May 2023, nearly 40% of workers within the UK had worked from home within the previous seven days. With many offices closing from 2020 onwards due to the pandemic, remote working continues for many employees. Perhaps one of the biggest concerns about remote working is how line managers can ensure employees are performing well in their roles. Line managers now need a long-term strategy to ensure that staff are performing. We have put together a guide for managers on how to manage performance remotely.

Consider how you want to manage remote performance

Do your employees respond better to an annual review, or would they prefer an ongoing assessment? Read our guide to appraisals to understand which format works best for your business.

Set up a remote performance review

Up until now, performance reviews have almost gone out of the window. However, if hybrid working is set to continue then the formal process needs to be put back into place. Just as team meetings and catch-ups have been conducted over video, so too can performance reviews. A few things to remember:

  • Find the right time: arrange the review a couple of weeks in advance to ensure you both can find a time that suits you.
  • Try and arrange the review at a time when neither of you is likely to be disturbed and can both be at a comfortable and private place to conduct the interview.

Be fully prepared

  • The review will go best when both of you are more prepared. Think about what you want to get from the review and ask your employee to also consider this. Are there any areas of concern or areas for potential development you can discuss?
  • Talk to the reviewee’s peers to get their feedback on the reviewee’s attitudes and performance. This is also known as 360 feedback and is a great way to fully understand how your employee is performing and collaborating with the team.
  • Review notes from the employee’s previous review to assess in their upcoming review whether they have been addressed. Was there a plan put in place with a timeline?
  • Encourage your employee to do a self-evaluation prior to the review. This will provide areas for discussion and identify areas where they need to develop and/or need your support.
  • Ensure that all equipment is set up prior to the review. This should include video equipment so that everything goes seamlessly on the day.

Set the right tone – use video

  • We are all used to video calls, and they work much better in a review situation than a telephone call. Body language can tell you a lot about how your employee is feeling so we would always recommend video if you can’t get together face to face.
  • Video calls can also help you ease any nerves the reviewee may have, as video is more human and personal.

Look at the bigger picture

  • Take your organisation’s goals and targets into account in the review.
  • Don’t just look at the employee’s most recent behaviour, look at all their achievements and actions in the time since their last review.
  • Try to focus on the employee’s learning and growth since their last review.
  • Remote workers are likely to experience more loneliness and loss of connection compared to those in the office. Be sure to acknowledge their efforts and praise their achievements, so they don’t feel overlooked or forgotten.

Discuss poor performance with empathy

  • If someone is performing poorly then it is important for that to be addressed. However, instead of just identifying what the employee is doing poorly, look at the reasons why. See if there are ways you can help support them. Take a look at our eBook ‘how to manage difficult conversations‘ for some guidance.
  • Use this one-on-one time to talk to your employee about how they are feeling, and to allow them to use that discussion to open up if they are struggling and need your help. Check out our free resources for employee wellbeing if you need to signpost them for extra support.

Plan for the future

  • Discuss with the employee some targets that can be achieved by their next review – make sure these targets are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) and align with the company’s own targets.
  • If an employee has said that they need support, be sure to provide it after the review to help the employee development. Consider how this will be monitored and tracked.
  • The review might show that smaller, more frequent check-ins are required with the employee, if so, make sure to facilitate this. Not everyone likes an annual review and some employees respond better to ongoing catch-ups and check-ins.
  • Be sure to write down all that was discussed during the review, so it can be referred to before the employee’s next review

For more support on managing performance remotely, please reach out to a member of our team or