The COVID-19 pandemic has forced millions of people all over the world to work from home. While this adjustment is difficult for anyone, it can be especially challenging for teams accustomed to traditional office methods and processes. An office environment is designed to eliminate distractions and boost productivity and working from home can mean being subjected to interruptions and other roadblocks. As a remote project manager, I’ve been in the virtual trenches for some time now and picked up a few tips.
Communication becomes increasingly more difficult when team members are working remotely. Working from home deprives many workers of the social interaction that they may be used to. Keeping an open line of clear and consistent communication is crucial when managing projects. Regular face-to-face meetings through video chat serves as an efficient and productive way to communicate as well as an opportunity to interact with team members.
There is a variety of different project management tools available, so don’t rely on one method of communication to keep team members engaged. My team uses GoToMeeting to have face-to-face meetings, Slack for day-to-day communication and Monday to track project timelines and deliverables.
As a project manager, the most important part of the job is to ensure that all team members are on the same page about project goals. Naturally, switching to remote work will break routine and can cause team members to lose sight of the end goal, so it’s important to have clearly defined roles, responsibilities and deadlines. When team members understand their role in the projects end-goal, they are confident and efficient. Working from home comes with a lot of flexibility, so trusting your team and setting them up for success is essential.
Organize And Prioritize
The role of a project manager is to be a jack of all trades and one of the major responsibilities is to manage the workflow by prioritizing tasks and staying organized. I like to say that I thrive in organized chaos and love a good to-do list. A tool I like to use to keep myself organized is ToDoist, an online “to-do” list that allows you to organize, plan and collaborate on tasks.
Whether you’re new to working remotely or not, there’s one thing all project managers need to do: build and maintain meaningful connections with their team members. A large part of building an engaged and productive team is celebrating their successes. Recognition is just as important when working remotely. Whether it’s a team or individual success, it’s important to call attention to achievements. How you celebrate doesn’t matter—a little thanks goes a long way!
Managing a remote project team is not easy, especially for those who never imagined they would be working from home. While it may feel overwhelming at first, it’s important to remember that your team members are likely feeling the same way. Set your team up for success with the right tools and processes in place and watch them thrive in an environment that promotes productivity, flexibility, and trust.
Hannah Whitbeck is a project manager at 118Group.
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