Remote working is quickly becoming the new normal. Roughly 70% of people work away from their office at least once a week across the globe. Knowing this, it’s important to be able to manage a project with remote workers effectively.
There are plenty of reasons to choose to have a remote, or location independent team, working on your project. However, concerns do arise too surrounding issues like trust, productivity, being able to offer leadership, and data security.
In this article, we’re going to look at the positives and concerns about remote working, as well as key issues you’ll need to contend with when managing a remote team on a project.
The good and the bad
Running a remote project presents some unique benefits that can feed in to a successful project on many counts. These include:
- An increase in employee satisfaction
- A reduction in fixed costs
- Decreased carbon footprint of your project
- More access to industry leading talent
However, there are challenges to face, with some negative elements including:
- The need to invest in new systems and training for them
- A decrease in employee visibility which can breed trust issues
- Lack of a team structure and ethos
Key considerations for remote teams
Although it’s a generally accepted principle that remote working will provide great benefits, it’s important to plan appropriately. Your management and leadership will be different and there are fresh considerations.
You need to assess the technology your team needs to successfully work from home. Items such as:
- The right laptop
- Ergonomic mouse
- Digital sketchpads where needed
- Webcams, headphones, and microphones
- A suitable desk space
Need to be built into budgets and provided.
For more details please see Remote Project Management Hardware Requirements.
Health and safety
It’s still the employer’s responsibility to ensure your workers have a space conducive to their health and safety. Even if this isn’t a legal requirement where you’re based, it’s certainly a moral one.
This covers a range of issues from ensuring your colleagues have an appropriate chair to making sure they’re logging out to take breaks regularly.
For more details please see Remote Project Management: Health & Safety.
Both online and real-world security should be a concern for remote workers. You’ll need to have processes in place with your IT team to ensure standard updates are completed. Having the right anti-virus and anti-hacking measures in place is a legal requirement, too.
Further, if you’re providing kit to your team, such as laptops or mobile phones, you need to make sure your insurance offers adequate coverage.
For more details please see Remote Project Management: Security Considerations.
Myriad communication software is available, some better than others. A communication plan is vital so that everyone knows which system is used for what purpose. You can take advantage of some of the following systems:
- Microsoft Teams
And plenty more, depending on your needs.
For more information see Remote Project Management: Communication Considerations.
File management and transfer
There are a few different ways to manage your data. For a well-developed organisation you can have your remote team access a remote intranet and your bespoke systems.
Other options that enable large file transfers, storage, and downloads include:
- Google Drive
For more information see Remote Project Management: File Management and Transfer.
Remote work should be about outcomes rather than hours logged. However, there are times that you need to see your team logged on and there is software that can help with that.
Having a log of assigned and completed tasks is also important, with systems such as Asana, Zapier, and Trello. Understanding the benefits of different tools is essential to ensure you get the right one for your project.
For more details please see Remote Project Management: Managing Workflows.
Freedom to choose your working hours is great, but you need to request the time of your project’s team or a particular colleague from time to time. There are calendar apps that will let you book time with people and let them request your time, like:
- Google Calendar
For more details please see Remote Project Management: Scheduling.
Working away from a bricks and mortar office is very different to going into the office. Little perks like Friday coffee and cake or the annual Christmas party aren’t really possible. You can still reward your team with things like organising local food delivery or gifting a streaming service subscription.
Ensuring your team are able to develop by harnessing a Learning Experience Platform will also engage a team. You need to also offer regular contact with their leader, whether it be for structured feedback and appraisal or a quick chat over lunch through Skype.
For more details please see Remote Project Management: Engagement.
Business continuity planning
Different considerations need to be made when you’ve got a remote team to work with. Ensuring security and integrity of your kit and data is one element of this.
You also need to be documenting your processes, having regular virtual meetings and making them available for later, and understanding your vulnerabilities.
For more details please see Remote Project Management: Business Continuity Planning (BCP).
Plenty of skills cross over from project management in an office to a fully or partially remote team. You’ll need to get to grips with some new software and consider some different factors in your processes and decision-making. The payoff will be worth it with a happier and more productive team feeding into managing a successful remote working project.
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