The COVID-19 pandemic has caused major changes which have drastically affected the workforce, regardless of industry. Working remotely is the new normal and for some, is posing challenges in certain roles. In a 2018 study, 70% of professionals world-wide reported they work from home at least once a week. It’s no surprise this number has skyrocketed in 2020 and shows no signs of slowing down.

Our recent Benchmark IT Work from Home Survey asked several IT professionals what challenges they are experiencing working from home, and the answers varied across the board. However, many largely focused on lack of motivation and increasingly difficult communication with their managers and/or teams. (For more insights on this, download our survey).

One role in particular that has seen considerable changes in the past six months is the work of a Project Manager. PM’s have had to alter their approach in connecting their team and creating a seamless transition from in-person communication, to fully remote collaboration.

In this blog, find tips and tricks on how to manage remote projects effectively.

Practice Excellent Communication
There are many tools and technologies available to ensure clear exchanges with all project stakeholders. For all of them, practicing consistent and deliberate communication is the first step when managing projects and teams from home.

For starters, daily video conferences are a great way to connect your team. These sessions can become quick, daily touchpoints that allow team members to report on their progress or what’s blocking them with scrum-master precision. Not only does face-to-face communication break down barriers, it also helps team members feel connected and valued. Just be sure you establish concrete meeting expectations and procedures. Making sure everybody has their camera on and instituting visual cues to avoid interruptions are as crucial as sending out a meeting agenda beforehand. In-person communication allows for people to sense when someone has something to add, but video calls don’t. Nothing can make a video call go awry faster than people talking over one another to get their point across.

Email is another (obvious) medium to manage remote project teams. This form of communication is best used for simple updates and documentation and allows users to work right from their inbox instead of having to switch between different apps to access content. Create a centralized space for all your team’s work, lessen the time it takes to retrieve and send information, and gain access to templates that help move a project along even faster. Check out which email management software may be a good fit for your team here!

Additionally, other communication tools provide instant messaging, screen sharing, video and phone dial-in options all from one platform. Others categorize your conversations, and provide you with to-dos, notes, and reminders to make sure you and your team are always on the right track towards reaching your goals. No matter the tool you’re using, it is always beneficial to have access to various ways of reaching your team.

Find the Right Balance of Engagement
Once instructions and communication expectations have been made clear to the teams, it is imperative to stay engaged. Project managers need to find a balance of staying in touch with the teams on the project, while not micromanaging or sending one-too-many reminders. Working from home requires more effort in engagement, but employees expect a certain level of trust that you are confident they will get the job done, and well. By providing this trust, employees are more likely to go above and beyond what was asked of them, which in turn, helps the company reach new heights. Finding this balance creates a strong backbone of team members to rely on with the right amount of communication to keep members engaged and on track.

Create a Clear Plan
A successful business is only as good as its planning – project managers must ensure that there is a plan in place for all tasks and projects, and that everyone on the team is aware of and has access to this plan. Whether this is a schedule, a calendar, a diagram, etc., it is always helpful to have clear, step-by-step procedures on what needs to get done, when it needs to be done by, and who is completing it. Through this, everyone is on the same page, and it is unlikely that anything slips through the cracks. It is also beneficial to use shared documents so that everyone has access to these plans at all times and always has the most updated versions at their fingertips. The extra time you spend to devise a clear-cut plan puts you on track to a successful project.

Project Execution
After the plan is set in stone (with room for modifications if needed), it’s time to remotely execute the project. Technology is once again your friend in this phase of the process, as systems like tracking software aid you in monitoring the progress of the project. This allows you to create a task list for each step of the project and share this with the team, all of whom are notified as each task has been completed. This ensures productivity, clear communication, and successful execution throughout the entire project life cycle. There are various software offerings, many of which you can check out here for whichever works best for you and your team.

With great communication skills, thought-out planning, and finding the right balance of engagement, project managers are able to oversee projects effectively while working remotely. With the tips listed above, you are on the fast track to success. Good luck and happy project managing!

 

Sources

https://www.apm.org.uk/blog/5-steps-to-successfully-managing-a-project-remotely/
https://www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2013/108experttipsforremoteprojectmanagement/04/managing-a-remote-project-in-six-steps/#32bb16766b4d
https://www.projectmanager.com/training/3-new-tips-managing-remote-teams
https://project-management.com/the-role-of-email-in-project-management/
https://thedigitalprojectmanager.com/remote-project-management-best-practices/ 

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