Remote teams are an increasingly common phenomenon in the modern workplace. Whether it’s Bob “working from home” again or a project spanning multiple countries (or continents!), project managers have a big challenge to tackle when it comes to teams located in different places: communication. But before you get scared, remote teams also come with a benefit: flexibility.
As a project manager, you will need to adjust to the impossibility of face to face communication. Speaking in person remains the most efficient form of communicating we have. Remote work means substituting “FaceTime” for “face time.” This isn’t ideal.
Face to face communication includes body language, tone of voice, facial expression…and a feeling of actually being together. It’s a lot harder to foster team buy in when you’re talking over Skype, or Slack. You don’t have the team round table meetings to rely on. You won’t be able to just swing by someone’s office to chat. There may even be time zone differences. You’ll want to prioritize actual communication, both across the team and with each member.
Having people in different places gives you a certain nimble ability to respond to things fluidly. Something needs attention at 3am? Good thing Roberta is in Singapore, then, and will be having brunch around that time. Tasks can be accomplished quicker, when time zones are a factor, too – if Larry in Melbourne starts on a task, and hands it off to Maria in Lisbon, who at the end of her day hands it off to Amy in San Fransisco, you accomplish three days of work in one. This can be a net benefit when you’ve got tight deadlines to meet!
Tools Are A Must
Managing remote teams means a project manager has to rely on the tools that keep the team together. Project management software is a must. You can’t be flying blind! Work needs to be tracked, and the project manager needs to stay on top of everyone in the team to keep momentum rolling towards delivery. You want software that keeps everyone on task and on target. Communication tools are a must. Not just the typical file sharing – you’ll want a central place for team members to communicate about work on the project. You have much thinner margins for error with important updates and messages getting lost in the usual Slack/email/whatsapp/project management tool whirlpool when there is no meetings where people can speak to each other in person.
Lucky for you, there’s a project management software solution that’s perfect for your needs. Crystal clear project plans that everyone understands at a glance. Task management tools to keep everyone on target. Communication tools built around the project plan. And collaboration is front and center, where team members will work together even if they’re a thousand miles apart.