Jeseena. K is a senior technical writer at iOSS LLP, a leading Direct Selling software provider. She loves exploring technical trends.
Many industries have drastically shifted their work culture from in-office to remote work due to social distancing norms recommended by the WHO and Global Lockdown to flatten the curve of the Coronavirus spread.
The sharp-witted employees and the majority of the employers are quite anxious about how to move ahead with this sudden transition to remote work culture and manage the remote projects effectively.
The main reason behind the apprehensive nature of the employees or employer, which I came across from a survey conducted by the Wrike is that nearly 50% had never worked from home before this COVID-19 era. So employers were stumbling around to move on with their assigned remote projects.
Are you working remotely or managing the remote project? You may be interested to know how well you can manage your remote project team members.
In this article, I have included some of the top tips for effective remote project management. Moreover, you can also have a look at the main challenges faced with remote project management.
What Is Remote Project Management?
Managing the team members who work from a different location to achieve the defined project objective within a specified deadline is referred to as remote project management. It means the project manager needs to virtually manage the scattered team members on a single track to achieve the required project deliverables within the defined schedule or timeframe.
Executing the project manager's roles and responsibilities to lead the team members remotely is quite challenging. It involves setting up a common platform to collaborate, track workflow, track productivity, estimate the time effort, monitor activities on the remote system, etc.
Tips To Overcome The Common Challenges Faced With Remote Project Management.
1. Finding The Right Tools & Software
As you know that we need the right tools for efficient project management, likewise it is equally important to have a perfect tool for monitoring and delivering projects remotely.
Tips To Choose The Right Tools & Software
You can find a variety of different project management software in the market that has inbuilt features enabling to track project tasks, milestones & related efforts accurately. You may follow the below approach to select the right software.
- List down the specific parameters to track like employee effort, productivity, task duration, etc.
- Check if there is anyone in your network / in social media platforms who manage a remote team to seek reference to the tool they use.
- Reach out to software vendors who are experts in project management with your specific requirements.
- Research reliability of the products.
- Shortlist the proven software and seek a demo.
- Choose the best suitable software based on the demo and test results.
2. Monitoring Productivity & Efficiency
The project manager needs to ensure that the activities and performance of each member in the project team are monitored effectively for successful project delivery. Various factors & distractions at the remote workplace could impact the productivity and efficiency of employees may taper off, which shall lead to missing project deadlines & even can cause financial loss too.
How To Improve Productivity
- Set the right expectation with team members.
- Agree on a common communication channel for all parties.
- Use the right project management tools to assign tasks and monitor the progress.
- Request timely updates from the employees on the assigned task.
- Analyze the efficiency of each employee frequently and provide prompt advice if there are any gaps or to eliminate further repercussions.
- Use the right productivity tracking software and provide constructive feedback to employees in order to boost their performance based on the data gathered.
3. Communication Challenges Among Project Team Members
Seamless and frequent communication among the team members and project stakeholders is key for successful project delivery. The team connects well or communication is much easier when all are in the office. You can drop into your peer, team members, or project manager desk to seek feedback or help to get your work done. It is challenging to approach team members when working remotely and sometimes lack of communication can lead even to team conflicts.
How To Effectively Manage Communication
- Encourage the team to utilize your approved official- communication platforms such as Skype, TEAMS, Hangout, etc.
- Create a sense of environment for free discussion.
- Daily team meeting. Review the challenges faced by team members and guide them appropriately.
- Stay in touch through a group chat window throughout the day.
- Frequent virtual meeting connects with team members to create individualized interaction.
4. Time Zone Differences
As the business grows and companies adopt remote work, it is highly likely that you have expertise working from different parts of the world. It is not easy to communicate & collaborate when you are in a different timezone and your productivity shall be impacted for a few hours. Perhaps you even lose your full-day productivity, if the person who needs to review your completed task is logging off for the day.
Tips To Overcome The Timezone Challenges
- Effective communication & build good Rapport: Understand your coworker /project member preferences, communication style, culture, custom differences & stay connected so that you can effectively communicate, avoid conflicts & escalations.
- Agree on a time window that suits both parties.
- Use the right project management software to schedule the task and to monitor the progress.
- Seek feedback from project team members for the improvement area.
5. Lack Of Motivation
A simple formula for great success with a talented workforce is to trust and motivate your employee.
As per the survey conducted by Harvard Business Review, employees who work from home /remotely are less motivated when compared with peers working from the office. The motivation was even worse when employees had no option to choose their workplace. This is mostly because they feel disconnected from the team. The current Coronavirus pandemic situation is also a negative motivator as employees fear job loss and are concerned about their health.
Tips To Keep The Remote Workforce Motivated
- Conduct frequent surveys among team members to understand their concerns and address them effectively.
- Stay connected with the team and create a sense of freedom for creative work.
- Define measurable goals and appreciate the quality work.
- Reward the project accomplishments.
Offer growth opportunities for the potential resource.
Researchers predict that the majority of employers will continue to encourage work from home even after the COVID-19 pandemic ends. So it is critical for project managers to adopt this remote work culture and keep up their team efficient and more productive to achieve business goals. I have penned down the tips to overcome the top major difficulties to manage a remote team in order to stay productive and successful.
Please remember that implementing the right tools & software is key to deal with the remote workforce irrespective of the project management methodology you follow.
Jijesh on August 27, 2020:
Well articulated and explained.