The pandemic has taken over the planet and made remote environments pervasive in every sector. Even though we live alongside Covid19, remote work will still exist.
Some benefits include the freedom to work from anywhere, a flexible agenda, and more time to spend with family. It's no wonder that 97% of them still want to work remotely for the rest of their career.
Besides that, remote employees also benefit the company. Organisations embracing remote workers are seeing raised productivity. Less time wasted and reduced costs.
There are challenges at every turn, just like remote work. This challenge is new, and many companies need help facing it. For example, reducing process coordination and collaboration feels tough. Simply put, remote project management is complicated for managers who can't manage it.
Well, how not to be complicated? How to manage projects remotely? The lines below will answer the question.
What is remote project management?
Remote project management is how project managers connect remote teams to ensure everyone works together towards project goals. It is the same as project management, except that the execution is online.
Managing remote projects brings unique challenges that traditional projects don't. This is why a PM (Project Manager) needs a project management tool as a medium for teams to connect. Remote project management is more flexible than traditional. They don't use a rigid set of rules but still use a project methodology.
Many companies have proven successful in remote project management, such as CoSo. 77% of employee productivity increases when working remotely, 30% get more work done, and 23% are willing to work longer hours.
What are the challenges of remote project management?
Long-distance relationships are complicated, not just between lovers but also at work. Not all PMs are capable of leading teams in different locations. There are three challenges that the team and the PM have to face while working on this project:
1. Relation challenges
The PM has to maintain trust in the team, manage resources, and prevent psychological risks that arose remotely. These risks include:
- Difficult time management
- The process of determining priorities
- Difficult stress management
2. Organisational challenges
Organisational challenges are managing schedules, delegating tasks, and monitoring the team's progress. Every PM must be able to set reasonable goals with detailed KPIs.
3. Managerial challenges
Managerial challenges are leading a team, motivating employees, and maintaining group cohesion. Each member understands their responsibilities and roles, and it is the PM's job to support them.
How to manage a project team?
Now it's time to ask how to manage remote project management. The "right way" to manage projects remotely will vary for each organisation, product/service, and team. However, here are some shortcuts you can try.
1. Communication line
Whether traditional or remote project management, communication is always the key. Remote communication presents new barriers because teams don't operate in the same space. So, the communication line must be clear.
As the team cannot exchange information in person, all involved in the project must schedule meetings to maintain objectives and work in the same boat. They use project management tools to simplify the distance and exchange of information. The manager's role is to encourage information exchange and maintain communication between teams.
2. Create space to grow and trust them
Since remote employees are no longer in the office, managers must set boundaries to outline their working hours. When you have teams with different time zones, you can only expect some things to be available some of the time. Try discussing their work schedules, then suggest a time to set up regular meetings. Remember, respect team members' time because they also have a personal life outside work.
In remote project management, managers often get stuck in micromanagement. This happens when the PM checks the team and monitors their every activity. This condition makes them tight and discourages them.
The PM must trust his team members to manage time and schedules effectively. They understand better when their most productive time is. Also, slightly late jobs should be OK as long as they complete them.
3. Assigning the right roles to the right person
Placing the wrong responsibilities on team members is a boomerang. So before assigning roles to each team, do some of these shortcuts:
- Gather team members by listing their skills.
Adding new members in the middle of an ongoing project can hinder progress. So make sure to collect all team members and their skills data. Get input from them on their respective skills.
- Empower teams to do their best work.
PM's first goal is to ensure team members can do their best work without getting overwhelmed. Help them plan their time, identify obstacles, and how to overcome them. Then, let them finish the job in the best way.
4. Gather feedback and ideas
In this environment, transparency is number one and brings ideas for new projects. You can invite users to submit feedback, which helps you spot customers' needs. Daniel Parascandolo, a designer of Hotjar, also does this when creating new features.
Ask open-ended questions.
Asking customer surveys can yield valuable feedback. Here is some Hotjar to gather input:
- What were the main reasons you chose our product?
- How did you feel about our customer service?
- What is the essential feature of our product?
- Why are you looking for products today?
- How would you describe your experience with us?
- How can we help you find what you are looking for today?
- What would make you use our product again?
The answer to this question brings opportunities for extra information on the product. The answer is not just “Yes” and “No.”
Let anyone propose ideas.
Feedback doesn't just come from team members. Sometimes customers better understand the needs they expect in the product. The PM should also give appreciation to the slightest idea.
5. Set Expectations and Goals
Managing remote teams equals clear and structured information so employees can work independently. Each goal must be detailed and explained perfectly.
Remote teams communicate a lot with tools, email, and video calls, so if instructions aren't clear, it creates ambiguity. For example, when discussing a project report, it must contain a timeline, resources, notable changes, performance, budgets, and risk management.
Remote project management doesn't have to be a burden. Challenges are always there, but there are ways to overcome them. The essential points are communication, transparency, accepting feedback, and giving trust. The proper treatment and tools allow teams to thrive in an environment of flexibility and confidence.