How to Succeed with Project Management in a Remote Work Environment?
There’s no doubt that working remotely has a unique set of benefits. Employees can work from anywhere, do something for the environment by not commuting, have more time for themselves, save money on rent and utilities and much more.
At the same time, remote work has brought about certain challenges. Working in the cloud, with people who are sometimes on the other end of the planet – it can be incredibly difficult. Project management is one of those aspects of remote work that has become incredibly important and knowing how to handle it can make or break your team’s success.
Communication is crucial
In a traditional office setting, communication is paramount for great project management. By communicating tasks, details and deadlines clearly, you’ll make it easier for yourself (presumably, as the project manager) and everyone else in the office to do their job. In remote environments, you often have to rely on text (and video and audio) to communicate your thoughts.
In practice, it often happens that things get misunderstood and as a result, your remote team doesn’t meet deadlines or they don’t do their assigned task according to your instructions. The reason can often be found in the fact that project managers haven’t communicated their thoughts properly.
As a project manager in a remote team, don’t assume anything. Write down each piece of information that every stakeholder should know and make sure that every task has crystal clear instructions. If they don’t ask any questions, that doesn’t mean that your team understood everything.
Besides a project management tool, it’s a good idea to invest in a team chat app for your remote team as well. Email can go a long way, but it’s slow in nature and lacks the capabilities of a good team chat app.
Learn how to wrestle with time zones
You’ve just assigned a task to Joe, but Joe is in Beijing and won’t even see your message in the next 12 hours. However, Dan needs Joe’s input to start working on something before your shift ends. How do you manage such a situation and is there a way to battle time zones?
One of the most common ways that big remote and distributed teams solve the issue of time zones is by assigning a certain time frame when everyone should be available for communication and work – usually 2-3 hours of overlap time. This makes it easier for everyone involved, while still giving plenty of freedom for flexible time schedules.
Finally, keep time zones in mind every time you assign new tasks, especially if they need to be rushed.
You don’t have to settle for a project management app
In the world of SaaS, there are a few fields which are incredibly competitive, and one of them is project management. There are countless project management apps out there and all of them do a similar job – they let you assign and track tasks and stakeholders. You could first think of this large number of options as a burden, but it’s, in fact, a benefit for you and your company.
Instead of settling for Trello or Asana (or some other Kanban board flavor) and calling it a day, you have plenty of options. There are project management tools devised for specific applications and uses and finding one that suits your needs 100% is now easier than ever before.
You can find project management tools for designers, developers, data scientists, writers and much more. Instead of trying to adapt a major PM tool like Trello to your requirements, you can get a tool that fits your needs right out of the box.
Managing remote teams can feel difficult, but with proper communication channels and the right set of tools, it can be just as effective as managing a team within an office environment. The benefits of working remotely outweigh the downsides and the future of work will be remote – so it’s up to us to adapt in time