Thanks to the recent pandemic, millions of people from all over the world have been forced to set up shop at home — and project managers are no different. While timely remote working capabilities are saving many companies from impending doom, the workforce is dealing with the pros and cons of working remotely and the increasingly challenging issues that come with it.
That’s because the office environment is designed to eliminate distractions and be conducive to productivity. Working from home means being subjected to all kinds of interruptions, as well as inadequate remote work equipment.
As project managers, we can’t afford to lose focus. Staying productive is crucial no matter the work environment because our teams are often depending on our expertise. That’s why it’s important to set ground rules for yourself and your team so work continues as usual even in the face of interruptions like your children wanting to play or your temptation to slack off.
Essential personal competencies for project managers include effective remote communication, focus on job completion, and the ability to maintain connections remotely. Work on these capabilities, and you’ll see a noticeable increase in efficiency and other benefits of working from home.
Add to that our top tips for working from home as a project manager, and you’ve got this covered!
Tips for working from home – how project managers can stay productive
Here are a few guidelines to help you manage your team and execute projects successfully while working from home.
While working from home, you might notice some unique roadblocks that you have never experienced in an office. Research shows that 37% of remote workers believe that working from home can result in less visibility of what you do. So, at the top of our working from home tips is ensuring complete transparency into the work of your teams and project progress.
While project managers could previously keep a close eye on their teams when working together from the same office, that may no longer be possible.
This is why project managers need real-time project reporting to ensure complete visibility, mitigate project barriers, and stay ahead of deadlines. It also adds an element of accountability and paves the way for effective delegation that empowers your team to operate with more responsiveness.
Wrike’s project management tools can help you to provide external collaborators and stakeholders with more transparency into the status of each deliverable. This will enable you to establish positive patterns of communication.
37% of executive leaders agree that a lack of clear goals is the most common factor behind project failure. When working remotely, it can be challenging to ensure that all team members and stakeholders are on the same page about project goals. Whether your objectives are planned on a weekly or monthly basis, make sure that everyone understands precisely what they mean.
It is now more important than ever to keep your project goals aligned with company goals— as well as each team member’s professional goals.
The strategies that you previously used to communicate your priorities across the entire organization will have to shift to better align with the new work-from-home environment. For that, you’ll require robust collaborative methods to clarify and confirm that they understand your goals.
Keep lines of communication open at all times
It’s no secret that remote workers face severe communication challenges. And it can get all the more difficult for project management teams to communicate online when, traditionally, they are used to sitting together at the office.
It only takes one misworded message or an email that was never sent to wreak havoc on productivity.
Deal with this problem by creating a powerful team ethos with regular face-to-face interactions and adequate social time. Put in place guidelines for email use and use chat and video tools when appropriate.
Also, find and deploy the right technologies that work well for your team. Wrike offers team collaboration software integrations such as MS Teams or Slack that you will find effective, especially if communication channels are divided.
With these apps, you can easily create conversation threads so that your teams can continue using the tools that help them communicate effectively.
Manage incoming requests and approvals
Project managers are expected to be the jack of all trades. As leaders, you have to manage incoming work requests and approvals efficiently by prioritizing workflow.
But when you are working from home, tracking requests and juggling them with pre-existing workloads can prove to be complicated.
Even more so, using sticky notes or spreadsheets can be a recipe for disaster. Therefore, you need just one platform that arranges your workload in a single place. With Wrike’s dynamic request forms, you can turn requests into fully managed tasks in a matter of minutes.
This makes it easy for you and your team to prioritize work upfront and focus on the next job rather than waiting for instructions to trickle in.
As a project leader, you have a responsibility to keep your team members focused and on track. But working from home can be challenging in this regard, especially if your business is still adjusting to a new way of working.
That’s why it’s essential to balance team workloads to avoid burnout so that you can generate more ROI and retain healthy employees.
Reprioritizing tasks can help accomplish this after assessing team capacity and business objectives so that your employees know how to stay productive while working from home. It’s also important to track each team member’s workload in order to make sure that you have divided the tasks fairly and individuals are not overburdened with responsibilities or underutilized compared to other employees.
Wrike offers features like Interactive Gantt charts that can optimize your planning with critical path analysis — plus resource management tools so you can balance your team’s workload.
That’s all for now, but you can also read about how to encourage your team to work with flexible hours and remote work. Or, if you want to explore our project management tools and software, you can get started with a free 6-month trial.