Before COVID-19, nearly half of workers (49%) said they’d never worked from home, according to our survey. Another 23% reported only working from home during exceptional circumstances. So, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many teams suddenly found themselves working from home for the first time and asking themselves, "What is remote work?" This led to managers scrambling to find the right remote work management tools for their operations.
There are plenty of significant benefits of remote project teams, both for the employees and the employer. Individuals gain more flexibility and autonomy, while companies experience higher productivity and reduced costs.
But, remote project management also has some unique challenges to overcome. Coordinating projects and promoting collaboration becomes harder when you can’t bring everyone together in one place.
With the following 15 tips, you can help your remote team overcome any obstacle and function as a productive, efficient project team during COVID-19 and in the future.
How to coordinate projects remotely
Remote project management requires a more organized approach to communication, coordination, and planning. Unlike working in a shared office, you can’t just pop over to someone’s desk to ask a question or see what they’re working on.
Here are 5 tips for how to coordinate projects remotely:
- Assemble the right project team. The earlier you can bring people into the project, the longer they have to build trust. While trust is critical to collaboration and communication, it can be harder to build among a remote team. So starting early is vital.
- Create and share your project charter. This is a formal document that helps outline the project's purpose, the key stakeholders, major milestones, project budget, and more. Post it somewhere your team can easily reference, so there’s never any question about the overall objectives or project requirements.
- Have a remote kick-off meeting. For remote team management, fewer meetings are usually better, especially if you have people in different time zones. However, the kick-off meeting is an exception. This is your opportunity to ensure everyone is starting on the same page.
- Make a prioritization system. Inevitably, people will face a conflict where they have to decide which work to tackle first. You should have a clear process in place for prioritization. You don't want your team to have to ask what task to do next and then lose time while waiting for your reply.
- Create a RACI chart. Everyone on your team should know who is responsible for which work and who has the final decision on any changes or issues. A RACI chart outlines who is responsible for tasks, who is accountable for making decisions, who should be consulted, and who needs to be kept informed.
Top remote project management tips
When your entire remote project team is working from home, managing a project becomes more complicated. Some of your standard project management processes (like status update meetings) will no longer work in this setting.
Here are 5 tips for managing remote projects:
- Use the right project management tools. The right project management and collaboration software is critical for remote project management. You need software that everyone on the team can access, use, and share information within. Your software is the key to keeping everyone in sync without having to drag everyone into a weekly virtual status meeting.
- Check in regularly. It’s easy to feel isolated when you’re working remotely. To make sure your team members don’t disengage, check in individually each week to see how they’re doing and ask if they need any help.
- Document and share important insights. Team members can often pick up valuable tips from each other in the office during casual conversation. This is much less likely to happen in a remote team. Documenting problems, solutions, lessons learned, changes, process improvements, and more can help the team learn from each other and discover new, better ways of doing things.
- Automate notifications. You don’t want your team to lose time by having to email each other project updates. Implementing software that automatically tells people when they have work assigned and reminds them of due dates saves you time following up and reduces the chance of something being missed.
- Be agile. Being agile isn’t just about adopting the Agile methodology for projects. It’s also about promoting flexibility and adaptability among your team. Agility means being able to adapt quickly to changes and encouraging new and better ways to do things. Be open to learning as you go and be prepared to change processes and rules that aren’t working for your remote team.
Best practices for remote team management to keep employees on track
For many of your team members, this may be their first time working remotely. Some may find themselves immediately more productive than before, while others may struggle to balance the demands of work with the distractions of home life.
Here are 5 tips for remote team management:
- Make communications public. Except for personal or confidential conversations, team communications should be shared in a central location where everyone has access. This approach can help ensure that all team members receive relevant information at the same timeIt can also build a sense of community and make people feel more accountable.
- Share weekly updates. Instead of a weekly status meeting, ask everyone to provide a weekly update in the shared communication channel. It can be a simple note explaining what they worked on that week, what issues they faced, what they need help with, and what they plan to accomplish next week.
- Organize communications by topic. If you have one channel where everyone discusses everything, vital information will quickly get lost. Make sure your communication tools of choice allow you to create separate threads or channels for different topics.
- Encourage people to work offline. While frequent communication is a critical part of remote team management, having notifications pop up every few minutes can make it difficult to get any work done. Encourage people to sign out of messaging apps and communication tools (including email) when they need to be productive and only check in a few times a day.
- Watch out for misunderstandings. It’s much easier to misinterpret a written message than one communicated face-to-face. Encourage team members to give each other the benefit of the doubt and to speak up if they feel a communication was rude, hurtful, or inappropriate. Try to resolve any potential conflicts before they negatively impact the team and project.
The future of remote project management
Research indicates that remote work is here to stay, even after the pandemic ends. Fortunately, with these fifteen tips, you can help your project teams overcome any remote work challenges in this new work environment.
Remember, a critical component of successful remote team management is implementing the right remote project tools. Wrike project management software offers efficient workflow management, live communications, over 400 app integrations, and automatic project notifications. Sign up for a free 14-day trial and find out how Wrike can help improve your remote projects today!