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Outcome-based working: all you need to know

Before the 2020 pandemic, to suggest that work quality and output were not directly linked to time spent in the office, Monday to Friday, was often met with disbelief.    


But over the past two years, due to necessity initially, there has been a steady move away from working in a conventional office setting and a transition towards greater remote/hybrid working practices.   


Now, as we have started to resume new-normal operations but worker desires and expectations to continue working remotely has remained (with the perks of remote working measuring highly in employee satisfaction surveys), many of us have opted to permanently transition to either a fully remote setup or a hybrid approach to working.   


As you might expect, this change in working practices has brought about a fundamental shift in worker performance management, with the adoption of more and more outcome-based working practices over conventional (office-based) working practices, where desk time and presenteeism was rewarded.  


This move towards outcome-based practices has required a paradigm shift in the way, as managers/leadership, we approach the concept of workers’ output and value.  


In an office-based working model, workers have fixed working hours and are evaluated on time spent at our desk (eight plus hours per day) rather than the quality of outcomes that result from those efforts. Moreover, workers often engage in time-wasting activities that, although work-related, do not significantly contribute to outcomes.   


In an outcome-based working model, the focus is on results (outcomes) rather than inputs (time spent at desk). And the effectiveness of this way of working is measured by the actual outcomes, not the time spent, or process taken, to achieve those outcomes.   


Moreover, measuring the effectiveness of outcome-based working doesn’t have to get more complicated than this: Did you do what you needed to, by when it needed to be done, and achieve the results you were aiming for?  


So what are the pros of outcome-based working?  


  • Your focus is on achieving expected/desired results and employee performance  


  • Lends itself well to remote/hybrid working and supports the development of in-demand skills like creativity, communication, agility, adaptability, and collaboration   


  • Measures effectiveness of task completion, to a required standard, within a given deadline instead of measuring effectiveness by time spent at desk or performing tasks   


  • Encourages your workers to achieve a clear set of objectives, independently, in a way that suits them, and to identify results and other inputs to achieve desired results  


  • Your workers have greater flexibility and independence over their work schedules and autonomy over the level of success they achieve at work. This leads to higher levels of engagement which in turn leads to above average productivity, greater enthusiasm, and more innovation. Moreover, companies with high engagement levels are reportedly more profitable  


  • Allows your workers to prioritise essential goals and not to waste time on activities that do not directly contribute to their defined goals  


  • Allows your workers to take time off when needed  


  • Outcome-based workers can work outside conventional office hours which means they can more easily connect with other workers in different time zones allowing you to have a more global workforce. This fits in well with predictions about the future of distributed teams, where everyone will be working from everywhere   


  • All you need in an outcome-based work system is a good Wi-Fi connection, attending your meetings, and contributing positively to your team.


Considering moving to outcome-based working? These are few of the things you need to start thinking about first:


  • Requires a paradigm shift in the way you approach the concept of workers’ output and value. Outcome-based managers have immense faith in their workers and do not believe in controlling them to perform   


  • Have clearly defined objectives/end-goals, and an established timescale in which those objectives/end-goals should be delivered, and then it’s up to the individual workers and their managers to determine the processes to achieve the required results  


  • Have a clear understanding of your outcomes within a firm framework that still allows for freedom and creative problem-solving  


  • Ensure you have the right workers in place, with the appropriate skillset, for the outcomes you want to achieve, as that is the only way to accurately measure the success of moving to an outcome-based working model  


  • Avoid micromanaging your workers as this defies the essence of outcome-based working. Instead set up weekly/monthly meetings with workers so they can update you on their progress and share plans with you   


  • As with an in-office working model, keeping the lines of communication open, through video meetings and phone calls, remains important, so that your direct reports can come to you with challenges and queries, and you can help them achieve the desired outcomes   


  • Putting time into proactive communication with your colleagues is also essential for ensuring that everyone understands and agrees on goals and processes. 



Thinking about transitioning to an outcome-based work model? Fill in the form below to talk to one of our experts to find out what different schedules, processes and tools might work best for you and your business.