August 12, 2021

Using OKRs to manage a distributed workforce

Lucy Hitz
Lucy Hitz

The objectives and key results (OKR) methodology is utilized by high-performing organizations around the world in part because it’s so good at keeping teams aligned and focused on achieving desired business outcomes. The OKR methodology takes the goal and resources conversation out of “me” and into “we,” keeping teams moving towards what’s best for the organization and understanding how they contribute to outcomes. As the remote work era continues, these benefits become all the more valuable. 

Let’s take a look at how an OKR program can make your life easier as a manager, more enjoyable for your team, and more productive for your organization.

Keeping an eye on progress, minus the micromanaging 

How many times this week have you had to ask someone on your team about the status of a project? As a manager, you can’t afford to spend time chasing updates because there’s a lack of clarity around progress. Let’s take the example of Slack, which uses’s OKR platform internally and faced the pain of multiple spreadsheets, low participation and, most painful of all, chasing teams down for updates. 


With a distributed teams, you can’t pop your head around the corner to ask your colleague a question. You’re Slacking each other, emailing each other, or waiting for your weekly team meeting to get an answer. And even then, especially in larger team meetings, you may not get the clarity you need and have to “take this offline.” 

The problem with this disjointed communication is not just that it’s a waste of time and gets in the way of results. If, as a manager, you don’t have complete information around the goals your team is trying to achieve and your team is missing this information too, you’re losing the opportunity to address roadblocks or unforeseen challenges before they throw your goals off course, identify areas of work that need more resources, or that should be higher priority, and acknowledge and celebrate things that are going right.

What does that equal? Poor morale, a risk you can’t afford to take in the Great Resignation era. makes it second nature for everyone on your team to update progress regularly with check-in reminders and dozens of integrations. That means you can rest easily as a manager, knowing how and what your team is tracking towards goals without constantly interrupting their workflow. Speaking of updates…

Pointing to a centralized location for tracking progress 

Stop spending time crafting the perfect “here’s how we’re tracking towards our goals” email and hunting down team leads for details. By putting all your goals and progress in one centralized location, every member of your team (including you) can simply refer to their dashboards to get a quick snapshot of progress whenever they want, then go deeper as necessary. This is especially important for team members working in different time zones who want an update on how an objective or key result is faring without having to wait a whole business day for the answer from another team member. 

Since dashboards in are customizable, you can build them out to suit the unique needs of your team. Including a widget with text-based context can be particularly helpful if you need to go beyond progress data and disseminate cross-functional learnings or insights from leadership.

Making sure your team feels focused, accomplished, and motivated  

Seeing OKR progress in real time is a huge motivational factor for individual contributors. Over 1 out of 3 workers surveyed in Asana’s Anatomy of Work said the main thing that will motivate them to do their best work in 2021 is knowing how it contributes to the company’s overall mission.

When individual team members distributed across the globe are able to draw a clear line from their work to the larger goals of the organization, they feel proud of what they’re contributing and motivated to keep moving towards their goals. This sense of alignment and connection to cross-functional teams and leadership

Using OKRs as a goal management framework also holds leaders and organizations accountable to prioritizing their top goals and sticking to them, rather than getting distracted by the inevitable demands that come their way. As we often say internally here at, outcomes over outputs. 

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