More people are now working from home than ever before as the pandemic forced many people to transition their office jobs to home. There are also those who have, sadly, lost their jobs and decided to look for remote work opportunities to help them through this difficult period.
No matter what your remote workforce looks like, if your business is employing remote workers, you need to manage projects more effectively and this means more use of formal project management methods. Where, once, issues could be identified and resolved quickly in an impromptu meeting, our disconnected working lives means issues can be missed and grow into serious problems before they are identified.
Communication is imperative for remote project management
There is only one place to begin when it comes to remote work, and this is with a communication plan. The vital importance of communication is something that cannot be downplayed. Communication is simply more difficult with a remote workforce, as the face-to-face option is taken away. There are many great tools that support good remote communication, including video conference software, instant messenger, and specialist tools for different industries.
However, not being in the same physical location as your team is a barrier to good communication and you will have to work hard to overcome that. Make sure you choose your tools with care so you can create an efficient system for communicating and reporting status updates. Perhaps the area that suffers most in remote projects is the lack of opportunity for brain-storming and idea generation, especially when problems need innovative solutions.
Hold a virtual project kickoff meeting
Another effective way to incorporate project management methods into your remote work strategy is by beginning every project with a virtual project kickoff meeting. This is the best way to make sure your project gets off the ground productively.
The aim of this virtual meeting is to make sure that everyone involved in the project understands the main objectives. You may host a number of subsequent meetings, dealing with different teams or stakeholders but this kickoff meeting will help set expectations. Either way, it’s all about discussing the key roles, dates, goals, and addressing any assumptions and risks to make sure the project goes as smoothly as possible.
Use flexibility to drive projects forward
The flexibility that comes with remote work can offer a great advantage in terms of being able to connect with clients and workers around the world. Rather than being restricted to the typical 9 to 5 working schedule, you may be able to adapt schedules so that your team can connect at the same time no matter what time zones they are in. This is a definite positive to remote working and can avoid situations where one team is held up awaiting a decision from someone in a different time zone. Just make sure team members aren’t expected to work unreasonable hours.
So there you have it: an insight into just a few elements of formal project management that can help when the project team are all working in separate locations. This isn’t a new situation in some industries but the pandemic has meant that more people are working from home than ever before.
While we hope many of these people can move back into their business premises over the coming months, many may continue to work from home through choice, which is why managing remote projects efficiently is more critical than it has ever been.