In the past, most businesses required employees to work under the same roof, and this worked perfectly well for decades. However, in recent years there has been a growing interest in alternative working styles like remote or hybrid working. Attempting to manage a project remotely does indeed create a number of new challenges that wouldn’t exist if the team was all working in the same room, but this doesn’t mean that it cannot be done or that the project itself will suffer. If you embrace a few strategies and take a considered approach, you can still complete the project to the same standard. Read on to learn more.
An Introduction to Remote Project Management
Remote project management simply refers to the approach a person takes to manage a project by connecting remote or hybrid workers, overseeing the work and ensuring that objectives and deadlines are met. It isn’t really that different to managing a project in a traditional office setting, except it does tend to require a few more creative solutions. This is simply because there are a few obstacles that project managers in an office setting won’t need to consider.
The right tech solutions and online tools are key to helping to connect teams, encourage collaboration and help you to stay on top of things. More and more businesses are adopting alternative working styles, which has made learning these skills a necessity. That being said, it isn’t all doom and gloom; remote project management is a lot more flexible, which can have its own benefits for the workers and managers alike, helping to unite disparate work styles and make them more compatible.
In order to effectively manage a project remotely, you need to embrace project management tools to assign work and manage tasks. There are a number of tools and software that you can choose from, all of which is designed to allow you to take ownership of the project whilst giving access and connecting with the relevant workers. The business that you work for might already have tools for you to use, or you might have the autonomy to choose your own. It is worth thinking about how you are going to manage the tasks because your approach will directly affect the team and, therefore, their output.
One of the biggest issues for remote workers, regardless of the industry, is collaboration. It can be difficult to reach out, gel as a team and work together cohesively when you do not share the same space physically. Messaging tools can sometimes lack the nuance, and they don’t necessarily prompt instantaneous replies, which is tricky if you are working to a deadline. Implementing the right communication strategies can help; scheduling check-ins and encouraging face-to-face conversations via video calls is also important. It also makes sense to think about how easy it is for your team to share the documentation and data that they need. Sending large files can take a lot of time, that’s if they do manage to send. They can also take up a lot of storage space on the recipient’s computer, which is troublesome if you are going to have more to share later on. You can minimise the space that they take up by compressing them using Smallpdf.
One of the biggest hurdles for managing a team remotely is the problem with productivity. When your team is all working from home, you are trusting them to manage their time well and fulfil all of their obligations. However, when working in an office, the environment itself encourages work, but when you are working from home, there are going to be more distractions which could hinder their productivity. This is where your approach to task management comes in; think about giving your workers deadlines and keeping in touch with them throughout their tasks to ask for updates. An ‘open door’ policy, so to speak, would also be beneficial to encourage your workers to come to you if they need help or access to resources in order to get their work done.
Look for Opportunities for Team Building Exercises
An effective team is a cohesive team; you need them to feel comfortable and confident when approaching each other for help and working together. It can be hard for a team to feel cohesive if they haven’t ever really occupied the same physical space or had the opportunity to bond outside of the professional sphere. This is why you should look for team-building opportunities to encourage your team to bond more, it can be tricky if the team is pretty far-flung, but you can still do things like virtual meet-ups or sweepstakes for big sporting events or other things like Eurovision or whatever the case may be. Try to encourage non-work chat, too – when appropriate, obviously.
Putting Together Your Team
Some project managers inherit their teams, and others get to choose; if you are the former, then there obviously is not very much that you can do, but if you are the latter, then it is important that you take the time to choose your team carefully. You should first think about the structure of the working style, is it wholly remote, or is it hybrid? This might affect your choice in team members.
After that, you need to consider your candidates, what skills does the project require, and who from your talent pool has them? In addition to the skills needed for the project, you should also favour candidates that are good communicators. After you have created your team, you should outline your expectations for the project as well as provide them with information on the guidelines like working hours, modes of communication, the frequency of check-ins, how the work is going to be delegated and who has to answer to who. You should also make sure that you have all of the management and collaborative tools at your disposal too.
Tips for Managing a Remote Team
After you have assembled your team, it is time to get to work. Ideally, you should have chosen team members who are capable of managing themselves while working remotely, which would make your job a lot easier. Regardless, everyone still needs to have a clear idea of their role within the team and what they are responsible for in terms of the project. It would make sense to schedule at least a weekly check-in, although depending on the timescale of the project, it might make more sense to do a daily check-in.
You should also do your best to encourage teamwork. Your team of staff should be made up of self-starters, but confidence can err on the side of arrogance and expose their hubris. The project is likely to require collaboration, and you will need to do everything you can to ensure that your team has the resources and capabilities to work together when needed. Keeping in contact with your team helps to dispel feelings of isolation, ensure accountability and boost productivity.
Getting the opportunity to manage your own project is a big deal, and you should be very proud of yourself. It is normal to want to excel and do well; if you succeed, you are far more likely to get more opportunities. Managing a project can be a big undertaking in and of itself, but managing a project remotely is even more nuanced. The above tips can really help to ensure that you are putting your best foot forward and giving your team the very best chance of success.