The concept of remote work isn’t anything new. In fact, it predates the pandemic as something that companies have been exploring for their employees over the past decade. In the past year, however, more companies have invested efforts into remote work environments, and companies that already had a remote workforce, invested more into their remote teams, or relied on nearshore teams and managed services providers.
Truthfully, employees want the flexibility to work from a remote location of their choice, giving them a better work-life balance and more control over their environments. On the corporate side, companies can save money on physical infrastructures and hire better talent without geographical constraints. Choosing to move your company to a remote culture can effectively build a better business model; however, it comes with many challenges for managing and maintaining remote project teams.
Managing a remote team isn’t easy and team leaders are learning how to lead a successful remote team and how remote project management should be handled. They have to be willing to roll up their sleeves and face the challenges of managing remote workers and trusting their team to get the work done. It’s also important for managers to choose the right project management software to help them overcome these challenges. Overall it is up to the manager to successfully guide and support remote team members throughout all the ups and downs.
Type of Remote Project Teams
A remote project team is a group of employees who work on the same project but may be based in different locations. The team may even be working from other countries or time zones, sometimes making direct 1-to-1 collaboration impossible. Remote work overall helps organizations excel in higher employee engagement and satisfaction, due to the flexibility of how your remote team can be structured and deployed.
There are several types of remote work environments, which include:
- Fully remote teams: Everyone involved with the project works remotely, meaning they’re anywhere but the original office location.
- Hybrid teams: Some team members may work remotely, and some may work from a central location, but they seldom, if ever, work together in the same place.
- Flex teams: Team members have the choice to work remotely or work from a central location, depending on job requirements and/or personal preferences.
Upside of Remote Project Management
Remote work allows organizations to gain a wider pool of top industry talent while employees gain higher work satisfaction and better engagement, a win-win. Below are five advantages of working as a remote team:
Companies are starting to use the “if work gets done well, we don’t care when you do it” type of mentality. This means allowing the team to set their own schedule and controlling their office environment so they can optimize for a more productive workday. This means removing distractions and creating an environment that best suits their needs.
Looking at it from a team perspective, while co-workers are losing the face-to-face interaction, the use of technology such as virtual whiteboards, video conferencing, and project management software allows for interactive collaboration and, in some cases, a better quality of communication and work. This works especially well in an agile environment where you can rely on asynchronous communications such as messaging boards and chat, where red flags can be raised, huddles replaced by a dedicated channel for updates, and so on.
Companies found that offering remote work as an option for their employees played a huge factor in retaining their employees. According to smallbizgenius, “76% of workers would be more willing to stay with their current employer if they could work flexible hours.” Whether they’re a project manager, software engineer, developer, or application integration consultant – if they can do their job on their terms, they’ll display more loyalty and affinity for the company.
Depending on where you are in your transformation from in-office to remote, working offsite can be stressful and confusing at first, but once you get the rhythm, it’s conducive to a more stress-free workday. Remote work employees have more time to spend with their family, friends, and pets, or go for a quick jog/walk to get creativity flowing, which helps to reduce stress. With more employees working in a less stressed environment, more project managers will also be less stressed, and productivity will grow.
Access to Top Talent
Your talent pool is subject to whoever is nearby, or willing to relocate (at your cost) when working from one geographic location. Offering remote work positions widens your talent pool, allowing you to work with the top talent – whether it’s nearshore or offshore. Before, commute time was a huge factor in workplace satisfaction, and some employees found that the longer their commute time became, the less happy they were. According to a report by Mercer, long commute times were connected to higher rates of depression, lack of sleep, and lack of physical health. In fact, some employees have even said that they’d rather get a 19% salary decrease, rather than add an additional 20 min to their commute.
Hence, now more people are more inclined to accept a job offer if they know they have the option to work remotely.
Remote work means vast savings for a company because they no longer have to pay for physical infrastructure, including high property costs, utilities, etc. A company can feel free to downsize if they need to reduce their overall carrying costs. Once your organization goes remote, the main overhead is paying for the Software As a Service (SaaS) tools you will need to run an effective remote business. With platforms like Google Workspace, Slack and Microsoft Teams, employees can use their own personal devices to do work.
The Downside to Remote Project Management
On the other hand, managing remote project teams does come with its own set of challenges. These challenges include:
- Setting the wrong project timeline and proper schedule.
- Lack of accountability from team members.
- Lack of communication for the project within the team.
- Not adapting to, or respecting, the company culture.
- Not respecting each team member’s time.
Four tips on how to better manage a remote project team:
1) Trust all team members, give them space
It can sometimes be hard to track remote employees’ productivity during their workday since they are not in the office where it’s easier to watch them. There needs to be a fine line between monitoring your employees and giving them the space they need to work. Remote teams mean not all employees are located in the same time zones, so you can’t expect them to be available whenever you want. To fix this issue, set up everyone’s work schedules in advance and create deadlines. At the same time, invest in a project management software tool that allows you to have oversight of responsibilities and deliverables.
As a manager, try to avoid micromanaging remote project teams. If you constantly monitor your team member’s tasks, they may begin to pull away from your trust. More work gets accomplished when remote employees get work done on their terms, making it unlikely that you will see a drop in productivity. Trust your team members will manage their time effectively; whether they begin work later or often take multiple breaks, it shouldn’t matter as long as they get the work done and meet any deadlines.
2) Establish clear goals and expectations
As a manager, it is essential to clearly define the team’s goals and objectives and how everyone will take part in achieving them. Produce some type of plan that organizes individual responsibilities, and make it easily accessible to everyone, so you know who’s working on what and whose responsibility it is. There are many applications and tools out there to effectively communicate with your remote team; you also can use email and instant messaging. It is crucial to be very clear with your verbiage, be sure that your team knows what you are communicating- the last thing you want to do is confuse or offend someone. For example, instead of saying, “I need this task done ASAP,” instead approach the conversation by saying, “I need this task finished by the end of the day.”
3) Provide clear and direct feedback
To be an effective manager for remote employees, it is essential to offer both positive and negative feedback. Be as specific as you can with your employees, so it is clear to them what they need to improve upon to perform more efficiently in the future. It is good to provide constructive feedback instead of just criticism; your team member will significantly appreciate this. Give them a chance to fix their tasks, and improve on their work.
A great tip to help motivate employees is offering some type of recognition or award to show an employee that they are doing great. This may even get other team members to step up their work effort and produce better results. Considering that everyone is off on their own, it’s hard to maintain a feeling of camaraderie and teamwork. Rewarding a team, as well as individuals, is an effective way to keep your remote team motivated and on task.
4) Invest in remote project management tools
This can arguably be the most crucial tip to help better manage a remote project team. It is vital to invest in the proper management tools depending on what your team needs to effectively communicate, collaborate, and have access to all work data. The remote project management software should help with:
- Streamlining and automating business processes.
- Granting access to all work-related information employees need to complete assigned tasks.
- Tracking project milestones and deadlines.
- Simplifying communication across all channels to all team members and departments.
- Assigning specific tasks to each team member.
K2 Partnering Solutions
Whether you deploy your own remote team, or if you’re looking to outsource to an MSP, making sure you’re set up for success is critical. If you have a project that needs to be managed and deployed by a team of experts, without the growing pains of cultivating your own remote team, then we can help. We’ve got a team of specialists, technical experts, and enterprise solutions consultants, with a proven remote working success record, as well as years of experience in delivering software development projects, custom solutions, and complex migrations. Our project managers thrive on delivering to KPI’s and raising the bar higher with every project.
Having been at the forefront of technology and talent for over 20 years, we help businesses to innovate and grow via our global network of locations. This offers us an unparalleled global reach, offering local expertise to deliver first-class technology solutions to our clients.
If you are looking to hire new project talent, contact us today.