The pandemic has accelerated the need for businesses to adopt remote work. Although the pandemic is now over, employees nowadays are looking for more remote working opportunities. Also globally, there has been a 159% growth in remote work since 2005. Due to the increasing adoption of remote work, the need for remote project management has also increased.
That’s why it’s more important for managers to learn how to manage remote project teams effectively. There is surely a lot to resonate with how teams are managed in an office environment, but organizations face multiple problems while working remotely on a project. In this article, we’ll discuss what is remote project management, what are the challenges of managing a remote team, and some of the best practices for successful remote project management.
What is Remote Project Management?
Remote project management refers to the coordination and management of project deliverables completed by a geographically distributed team without in-person interactions.
Managing a remote team requires a lot of creativity, and also involves a lot of challenges. Remote project management is flexible in its own way. Contrary to that, it has its own set of challenges.
Challenges of Managing a Remote Project Team
Trouble in managing time
When employees work from home, there are higher chances of distraction. Moreover, there is no one over the shoulder for accountability. Keeping track of time gets cumbersome for employers, probably leading to unproductive hours.
Lack of job recognition
Working from home provides less opportunity for employees to be appreciated. When individuals are at work, modest activities for acknowledgment might be held, such as lunch outs, giving away gifts, or office outings. But these things are not possible when your employees are staying in other countries.
Tracking employee productivity
Employers can readily measure employees’ productivity when they work in the office, which is not possible otherwise. Remote managers must identify strategies to boost their remote team’s productivity. Managers must be aware of their employees’ underutilized capabilities and encourage them to work better.
Lack of tech infrastructure at home
When people are at the office they get the best possible business-friendly technology to work. The tech infrastructure at home might not be up to the mark, which can hinder the team’s performance. Although, many organizations provide devices such as laptops and other necessary things so that employees can work with the same productivity as they were in the office.
Now let’s have a look at some of the best practices for managing remote projects successfully.
7 Tips For Successful Remote Project Management
1. Establish ways to communicate effectively
In-person conversations are not possible in remote work. But ever since organizations started working remotely, the use of various online communication tools has exploded. Teams started using tools like Slack for instant messaging and Zoom for video conferencing. Slack & Zoom came to the rescue to remove communication barriers between remote project teams.
It is important here to establish proper standards and rules for the usage of these tools. Everyone on the team must be aware of when you should use the instant messaging app and when the video conferencing tool. Also, email is another way to communicate formally with your team.
Test and experiment with different tools to see how you can communicate effectively with your remote project team. Communication is one of the most important aspects when it comes to delivering successful remote projects.
2. Trust your team members and set them free
While managing remote teams, it is important to focus on outcomes rather than checking every hour what your team is doing. Micromanaging can demoralize your team and make them feel frustrated. That’s why managers should trust their team members and set them free if the outcomes are satisfactory.
With this trust and freedom, employees start respecting their organization. They work more productively, put in more effort, and go the extra mile to complete their tasks.
3. Set clear goals and expectations
Remote team members must understand the project’s goals in order to deliver successfully. In a case otherwise, they won’t be able to work effectively. As a manager, you can prepare a well-organized written document with individual responsibilities for each team member.
When the team works remotely, communication mostly happens through video and text formats. Given that, if the instructions are unclear, there are high chances of miscommunication and project scope creep. Leading to delays in the project and dissatisfying results. To avoid this, the document should consist of clear roles and responsibilities of each team member precisely.
Check-ins should be performed on a regular basis to ensure that deadlines are met. This will result in work being completed on schedule and within the set parameters.
4. Give direct and constructive feedback
Feedback plays a very important role in remote project management. It is the only way employees can know about their performance. It helps them to improvise on their work and meet the set expectations.
Giving feedback is also a crucial task. As a manager, you should be careful of the delivery of the feedback. Make sure to be specific with the feedback. Rather than blaming them, give solution-oriented feedback. Tell them the problem they were in and guide them through the probable ways it can be solved.
Make sure that each employee receives feedback privately. Public humiliation is the door to discouragement and rage towards the organization. Consider writing feedback in written format for better clarity of thoughts.
Once you give feedback, make sure to follow up and take regular updates on the development based on it.
5. Invest in the right team collaboration tools
Every workplace demands collaboration. In the office environment, whiteboards and sticky notes can come to the rescue. Though, in the remote working atmosphere, various team collaboration tools come handy.
Weje is an all-in-one online team collaboration platform that is synonymous with a whiteboard inside your office, but a digital one. It has some amazing team collaboration features. It allows you to virtually collaborate on an online whiteboard, create sticky notes, make mind maps, and manage your tasks with kanban boards. It can work as a brainstorming app as well.
6. Check in regularly with weekly meetings
Working from home may leave employees feeling left out. It may demoralize them if regular meetups are not conducted. Weekly discussions should be conducted to address any ambiguity employees may have. It can be through any medium like video conferencing or instant messaging.
A lunchtime informal meetup can also be conducted for creating a friendly atmosphere where employees can talk freely about their problems and achievements. This can increase productivity as employees feel charged up through such meetings with their colleagues.
7. Focus on improving the company’s culture
Remote workers need a friendly and supportive atmosphere to perform tasks in an effective way. But even after that employee burnout is real. Though companies are investing in mental wellness, paid time off sets a good company culture. It directly impacts productivity, so organizations must work closely to create a quality culture.
This can be done by organizing virtual team-building activities and scheduling social time for employees. This helps team members understand each other better and creates a social bond among them.
Also, make the employees go through the comprehensive culture deck. A culture deck is a document that has a breakdown of the company’s values, mission, and vision. It allows the employees to have a deeper understanding of the company’s culture and attract great people to your team.
Remote project management is not an easy task for both the managers and team members. Following all these tips can aid in managing the project effectively. The work culture is seeing a paradigm shift. In the probable post-COVID world, a hybrid or remote work culture seems to be a very doable approach. Despite having challenges, managers have now found ways of executing remote projects successfully.