At the beginning of project management, everyone was physically working together. But work management is no longer under one roof. People are now working remotely more than ever.
Remote teams are hybrid teams, and they work in different locations with different tools and skills. How do project managers keep them collaborating and productive? Remote project management and project management software, that’s how.
What Is Remote Project Management?
Remote project management is how project managers connect remote and hybrid teams and ensure everyone works together to meet the objectives of the project. In that sense, it’s no different than managing any project, except that you execute the project remotely.
Managing a remote team creates unique challenges that traditional project managers don’t need to consider. That’s why remote project managers use online project management tools to virtually connect people who are physically distant. Recent events have proved that many industries could survive, and even thrive, using remote project management.
Unlike other methodologies, remote project management is flexible. It doesn’t follow a rigid set or rules, though it is viable with both traditional and agile approaches. It can even support hybrid work management that unites disparate styles of work and makes them compatible.
ProjectManager has multiple project views and real-time data that makes hybrid teams feel as if they’re working together, no matter where they are. Task lists organize the project and your individual work, plus you can set priority and view status to know if you’re on schedule. Teams can comment on tasks for better collaborations. Try ProjectManager today for free!
Benefits of Remote Project Management
As recent events have shown, the benefit of remote project management is that it keeps the lights on. That is, many businesses were able to continue to stay in business thanks to project management tools that keep them working from home. Important as that is, though, there are other pros to remote project management.
Remote project management tools let teams take ownership of their work, and give managers the transparency to monitor their work without getting in their way. A planning tool can assign them work with detailed descriptions. Then, teams can manage their backlog and plan sprints. This leads to more empowered teams and that creates good morale, better retention and productivity.
If you have a remote team, then you’re going to save money on office space and utilities. Those savings can go towards growing the business or your team’s salaries. Speaking of teams, they benefit too. No longer do they have to spend money on commuting, whether that’s public transportation or gas and the normal wear-and-tear on their cars.
Work as a fully remote team or in a hybrid model can boost morale. A happy team is a productive team. Whatever you work out between management and employees, it’s sure to benefit both. Less travel means more time at home with the family. This can also help you recruit talent farther away than was ever possible.
Reporting and Feedback
Project management for remote teams excels in transparency through better reporting on progress and performance. Communication is a two-way street, and feedback from teams is also a powerful way to continuously improve processes. Remote collaboration builds stronger bonds, and reporting allows for better decision making.
Challenges of Remote Project Management
Project management for remote teams is not a magic bullet. There are project management challenges, and those beyond project management. Some industries cannot work remotely even if they wanted to. But those that do have the luxury of working outside the structure of an office can still find hurdles, regardless of what project management method they work in.
While there are collaboration tools that connect people, some contend that collaboration is always better when teams are physically in the same room. Text, chat and other messaging tools lack nuance and can often be confusing. Using a voice or video conference is a solution, but even they are not the same as a team working side-by-side.
As you might have guessed, each positive for remote project management can also be thought of as a negative. For instance, productivity can suffer when teams work from home. There are distractions that are just not in an office, like the dishes, kids and so on.
Creating a team is easy, but having that team bond and developing trust is hard, even when they’re working physically in the same space. This can be exponentially more difficult with hybrid teams and clients when you’re not together in person. Team-building can happen, but it might be harder and take longer.
Assembling a Remote Project Team
To get a group together, follow these steps:
- Know what type of remote structure you’re working with.
- Find the right candidates. Those whose skills match your needs, of course, but you also want people who are good communicators and respond to things quickly.
- Make sure your guidelines and expectations are clear, from work hours, frequency of check-ins, time tracking, goals, who has authority for what, etc.
- Stay engaged with the team through virtual meetings, chat, etc., in order to keep teams feeling connected.
- Make sure you have a reliable channel that everyone is using for both direct chat, announcements and feedback.
- Have the right collaboration tools for the project team to work together no matter where they are.
- Have management tools such as timesheets to keep your team accountable on how much time they’re spending on tasks.
Types of Remote Project Teams
There are various types of remote teams. You have to decide which fits with your company culture and meets your employees needs. In general, there are three types of remote project teams. They are as follows:
As you would expect from the name, a fully remote team is one in which everyone is working from home or in separate offices across the region or even different time zones.
The hybrid team is one in which team members are distributed, some working together in an office and others from home or different offices.
Flexible or flex teams can work from home or in the office as well as a co-located space as determined by an agreement between themselves and management.
How to Manage a Remote Project Team
When you have assembled your remote project management team and defined their work structure, the real work begins.
- The first thing you need to do is get the remote teams together for a meeting and set clear expectations for them when project planning. Hopefully, you’ve hired team members who are able to manage themselves while remote working, but regardless, everyone needs to know their roles and responsibilities. A RACI matrix can help.
- Each day should start with check-in. People can explain what they’ve done and what they expect to do over the course of the coming day. This is a good time to make sure everyone understands their assignments. The lines of communication should remain open but a daily standup meeting is a good place to start.
- While you want to have self-starters, team players and independent team members who can manage themselves, the project still requires processes to manage work and keep productivity high. Whatever methodology you prefer or is right for the project is fine, but make sure everyone on the team knows what it is, how it works and how often they’re expected to update their status.
- You’ll want to support your remote teams. When there’s no constant face-to-face interaction as in an office, team members can feel isolated and abandoned. That leads to poor morale and unhappy team members, which is nothing you want. Find ways to stay in touch with them, whether weekly one-on-one meetings or other ways to let them know they’re being heard.
- Finally, you need to have a hybrid work management tool that connects teams no matter where they are, what their skill level or department is to allow them to connect with others and work with the tools they want to get the job done. Cloud-based work management tools help break down the barriers of distance so look for one that is flexible enough to serve project managers and team members.
Best Remote Project Management Tools
There are a lot of remote project management tools on the market. Some are better than others at connecting hybrid teams and facilitating more productive work management. Here is a shortlist of some of the better remote project management tools to help you connect hybrid teams for productive work management.
ProjectManager is a cloud-based tool that facilitates remote project management with real-time data, file sharing, commenting at the task level and the ability to tag anyone on the project team and get them into the conversation. You can assign tasks and manage notifications by email and also in the tool to keep everyone in the loop.
Multiple Ways to Work
There are multiple project views that allow everyone to work how they want. Managers can create structured plans in advance with project planning tools such as an online Gantt chart that filters the critical path and sets baselines so when the project is executed the planned versus actual effort can be tracked. Gantt plans can then be shared with stakeholders and the entire team.
Powerful Team Collaboration Features
Teams can work on task lists that do more than collect work. They show priority, status, can attach files to tasks, add comments and much more. There are also kanban boards to visualize workflow and a calendar view, too. All project views are simultaneously updated so no one is ever working with old data.
Project managers can monitor progress and performance no matter where or when their teams are working. Real-time dashboards require no timely configuration. They automatically gather project data, crunch the numbers and display charts and graphs that show project variance, cost and more. One-click reporting goes even deeper into the data and can be filtered and shared with stakeholders.
Slack is a communication tool that connects teams. You can create specific channels for teams, departments, etc. There is one-on-one chat as well as video and voice conferencing. It’s a great tool to keep everyone working on the same page even if they’ve never met in person.
Google Workplace is a tool that helps teams collaborate. There is a suite of apps that keep everyone connected, such as Gmail, Google Calendar, Meet and Drive, which has free documents, spreadsheets and presentation software that can be shared and used by teams.
Trello is a way to manage projects and help teams collaborate. It uses a kanban board model for task management and integrates with other apps. If you’re looking for a kanban-only solution this might be the right tool for you.
Remote Project Management Best Practices
Some project management tips to keep in mind is that, regardless of whether you go fully remote or hybrid, is that you must be transparent when stating the objectives of the project and the process you’ll be using. This keeps teams on the same page as you are and helps motivate them. It doesn’t hurt to start each day with a standup meeting when the agenda is clearly stated for the upcoming workday.
Status reports are the lifeblood of remote project management. Teams need to keep project managers updated, and project managers need to be able to clearly communicate with teams. When team members are not together under the same roof it’s easy to lose touch. Maintaining strong communicative bonds is what keeps remote project management working. You want team members to know what they need to do and project managers must stay open to feedback from the team.
Having one source of truth is critical to keep the team management of remote project management moving ahead without costly delays. If teams are working on one set of data and project managers have another there’s trouble on the horizon. Having a remote project management tool that is cloud-based means real-time data that is shared across all project views to keep everyone working on the most current information.
ProjectManager is an award-winning remote project management software that organizes work and facilitates hybrid teams across the world and the company. Its multiple project views allow teams to work how they want and managers get the reporting tools they need to monitor resources, progress and performance to keep the project on track. Try ProjectManager today for free!