Remote work is becoming the new normal. For many of us, it already is. With improved technology and a global pandemic that forever changed the way we work—remote work is here to stay.
Additionally, companies are increasingly embracing remote work because it allows them to hire highly skilled talent anywhere in the world. Not to mention the cost savings on company infrastructure.
But implementing a remote work strategy in project management is not always as straightforward as embracing the idea it. Managers must ensure remote work happens glitch-free. This can be challenging when you’re now required to manage someone when they’re not there… in person that is!
To help you manage your remote workers better, we go over what remote work is, challenges associated with this style of work and how to best deal with them. We’ll also highlight the benefits of using the right project management tool to manage and support your team working remotely.
What is a Remote Team?
A remote team, like any other team, is a group of people working towards a common goal. However, everyone in a remote team works separately from different (home) offices, cities or countries. A remote team could also be hybrid, where some team members work from a centralized location while others work remotely.
Remote work isn’t a new phenomenon of course, but the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated its growth. An estimated 69% of U.S. employees worked remotely at the peak of the pandemic. Many of these workers are eager to continue working remotely post-pandemic.
The massive transition to remote work during the pandemic was a necessity for most office-based companies that wanted to continue operations. However, many of these organizations soon woke up to the perks of remote work and, as a result, are embracing some form of remote work models for the long haul. In fact, 95% of employers believe that offering remote work plays a major role in retaining their employees.
Workers are also seeking work from home positions more than on-site ones. A Gallup study found that 54% of employees would quit current jobs for one that offers flexible work hours. 37% would leave for a job that offered the option to work from home at least part time.
As the numbers show, remote work is not just a trend. It’s here to stay. Therefore project managers must understand and make the most of this new way of working in order to manage their teams better. Creating a good remote experience isn’t just important for project productivity. It also helps you create a work environment that is more aligned with your staff’s expectations of their workplace.
What are the Challenges of Working Remotely?
As with any team, managing people can come with a few challenges. Here are a few that are unique to managing remote teams:
Communication is key to a remote team’s productivity. But it’s also one of the aspects that’s likely to take a hit when employees are new to working from home. Communication within a team working from the same physical space is often spontaneous. Coordinating across time zones, however, could require more forethought and scheduling.
Difficulties holding team meetings
As much as some of us might dislike them, team meetings are a necessary evil to discuss project progress and other issues relevant to the team. It often feels easier to get the team together when everyone is working from the same office. However, team meetings can be a bit more complicated for a distributed team working from different time zones. It’s not impossible but planning a meeting takes a lot more awareness about your team’s schedules.
Tracking workflow and team productivity
Tracking work and productivity is essential to know if the project is aligned with the goal. Without a proper tracking system, it might be difficult to tell how much work your remote team accomplishes and at what rate. Without daily face-to-face interactions, you will need to establish ways to track productivity for your team. This can include setting up metrics for how much work is expected to be completed each day.
Building a company culture
Company culture takes time to cultivate and involves fostering healthy communication, and instilling that culture across the board. It takes more concentrated effort to develop a company culture in a remote team than in an office team. As the manager, you must be at the forefront of creating a healthy remote company culture.
6 Ways to Improve Your Remote Team with Better Project and Resource Management Practices
Remote work is great, but now you’re also cognizant of its various challenges. With this in mind, how can you build a remote team that is effective, productive, and delivers on projects? That’s the question we’re here to answer.
It starts with getting better at managing your project and resources. After all, your team’s productivity is largely influenced by their leader.
Here are six ways you can improve your project and resource management to create a more productive and effective remote team.
1. Communicate with your remote team frequently
Fluid communication is the glue that holds a remote team together. But email isn’t the only way. There are many other modern ways to keep communication flowing.
Zoom calls are the new phone calls. Video conferencing is a good way to add a personal touch to your team’s communication process. It helps team members put faces to the names. Video calls also build trust and develop bonds that are critical for teams to work well together.
Set up weekly check-ins, so you can stay abreast of how everyone is doing. Regular weekly meetings give you a chance to simply touch base and see if project members need anything from you to do their job better.
Mission Control’s Meeting Manager feature can be a great tool to foster more productive and effective meetings for remote project management teams. It allows you to set up a meeting request and invite people straight into their work calendar. The invite also includes an Agenda for the meeting with tasks to discuss.
The Chatter feature is also a great tool for real-time communication, regardless of where employees are located. It promotes two-way communication so that remote workers don’t feel isolated from one another.
2. Be clear with instructions and expectations
Give instructions and set expectations without being vague or leaving room for confusion or personal interpretations. Be very specific about the project objectives, goals, and expectations.
Provide clear examples of what you need done, set clear deadlines, and set individual and team milestones. This ensures that everyone understands their tasks and delivers as expected.
You can use a project management tool such as Mission Control to give instructions and set deadlines for your team. Action Pad is a useful tool for managers to get an overview of tasks assigned, deadlines, overdue tasks, hours spent across the lifetime of a project, and more.
It becomes easier to manage your team when each stakeholder understands the team’s goal and what they need to do to achieve those goals.
3. Don’t micromanage your team
Working in remote teams is all about trust. Don’t go into this relationship assuming your team isn’t doing the work just because they’re remote. In fact, the staff is often more productive when working remotely as they enjoy the work-life balance this gives them.
Resist the urge to micromanage.
Communicate tasks, deliverables and deadlines clearly, then track the progress of the remote team’s goals rather than what they’re doing every minute of the day. This will help build trust between you and your team members which will ultimately lead to increased productivity and satisfaction.
Use tools to manage your team instead. For example, a time tracking tool can be helpful for managing your team’s productivity.
For example, when you use Mission Control for project management, Team members can log their hours and tasks using the Timesheets feature. It also gives you better visibility on human resource utilization on projects without having to micromanage every aspect of your team’s days.
4. Maintain project visibility
While your team’s physical location may vary, the project still needs to be visible to everyone, throughout the project cycle. Having a visual overview of work enables everyone to see the flow of work and how projects are progressing. This kind of transparency allows you to quickly identify any bottlenecks and resolve them, thereby increasing your team’s overall efficiency.
By being able to visualize how your team’s projects and tasks are flowing, you’re also able to see clearly each team member’s workload. This way, you can ensure everyone is assigned the workload they can handle without over or underworking them.
Making use of project management methodologies and tools can be very useful for maintaining project visibility. For example, you could set up your project using the Kanban methodology to share your workflow with all project stakeholders. A Kanban board makes it possible for everyone to visualize their workload and see progress from start to end.
This methodology makes frequent communication possible as information can be shared easily. It also encourages collaboration and teamwork as everyone is able to clearly see the team’s goal.
Mission Control has an easy-to-use Kanban Whiteboard that simplifies the way you assign tasks and track team progress.
5. Provide team members with clear and direct feedback
Giving and receiving feedback, tracking progress, and discussing if team members are having any difficulties are some of the surest ways to keep projects moving in the right direction and stakeholders motivated.
Both positive and negative feedback is important as it lets each team member know what they’re doing right and what they need to improve on. Be as specific as possible when offering feedback. This makes it easier for team members to understand your expectations and perform better in the future.
Don’t always dwell on what isn’t working. Positive feedback is a great motivator and essential for building team spirit. Make sure to give your remote team members positive feedback regularly and encourage them to celebrate successes.
6. Invest in the right remote project management software
Managing a remote team can be complicated especially if you’re doing it manually. You have tasks to assign, deadlines to look out for, ensure everyone stays focused on the project, create invoices, and more. Doing all this on your own can be overwhelming.
Consider investing in project management software to help manage everything better. These tools can help you create a centralized hub for your projects and your teams. They not only help your teams communicate and collaborate better, but they also help you keep team members motivated and on track for delivering on key project KPIs.
You want a tool with a full spectrum of project management features that connect teams and managers. The right tool will help you:
- Assign tasks to appropriate team members
- Track project milestones and deadlines
- Simplify communication among teams regardless of their location
- Easily share and access all the information the team needs to accomplish their daily tasks
Mission Control offers this (and more!) when it comes to project management features. We can help improve the process of managing your remote team.
Empower Your Remote Team with Mission Control
Many companies may have been thrust into remote work by Covid-19 but they now see the benefits of this trend. Workers too have benefitted from this shift and more of them expect to continue working remotely in the long term.
When you’re new to managing remotely, it may feel like you’re grasping at straws On one hand, you’re trying to get everyone into one meeting, and on the other trying to track who is working on what. It can all feel like a bit too much!
But, with the right tools in your arsenal, you can better navigate these challenges.
Mission Control is a one-stop project management tool that allows you to assign, monitor, and report on remote teams, no matter where they are or when they’re working. With the platform’s features, your team can work efficiently and effectively, both in-house and remotely.
The software allows you to create action checklists and add all tasks that need to be completed. This helps to keep each stakeholder informed of their responsibilities and takes the guesswork and confusion out.
Tracking workflow and team productivity with a distributed team can be challenging but not with Mission Control. Use the Action Pad to set out time expectations and deadlines up front. Sometimes you may need to communicate workflow, expectations, and goals in person. Use Meeting Manager to set and manage your team meetings and keep team communication flowing throughout the projects.
Mission Control is a key component of any remote management system. It grants you the features you need to keep your team focused on the project and monitor their progress. Your stakeholders also get the collaborative features they need to work as a team even when physically apart.
Contact us today to see how Mission Control can help you improve your remote team management process for increased collaboration and productivity.