Home working is a way of working that has been increasingly successful in recent years. In our times, home working is virtually the only choice that most companies are forced to make if they don’t want to shut down.
Project managers therefore have to manage the only communication channel they have: the virtual communication channel which, if properly managed, can be as effective as the real one.
What is virtual project management and how does it work?
Virtual project management is based on the work of a project team from different positions, and in most cases, they never meet in person.
Many responsibilities and the project life cycle are the same as those found in “traditional” project management, while other factors are entirely different.
There is no unique solution to be a successful virtual project manager. Everything will depend on the strategies and objectives that an organization follows and the policy of the company.
The biggest difference found in virtual project management compared to traditional project management is undoubtedly the communication channel.
A good virtual PM must be empathetic and able to grasp feelings of chaos or general confusion within a team even remotely.
5 successful remote project management tips
What we want to achieve with this article is to provide Project Managers who need to undertake remote managed projects with some suggestions that can guide them.
1. Having a system
The very nature of a virtual team makes it more difficult to be managed in the long term than a “traditional” team.
Difficulties in communication or planning can cause the loss of important information in the process.
More importantly, it can be difficult to determine who is working on what at any given time or when different team members are available.
Too much ambiguity in a virtual team can lead to important problems in a project.
If a virtual project manager does not have a well established system to monitor progress, workflow, and expectations, the team will struggle to be efficient.
2. Using communication tools in the right way
As already stated, communication is key in the case of virtual teams.
Fortunately, there are many technologies and tools that make it much easier to share information and work in collaboration with others.
For the majority of the most efficient virtual teams, email has become virtually obsolete.
Collaboration tools such as video conferencing platforms, instant messaging programs, project management software and document storage and sharing clouds allow teams to quickly access the information and materials they need at any time.
These tools also help employees clarify problematic situations and provide support more effectively.
3. Building and maintaining trust
Anche se un team virtuale dispone dei migliori processi e strumenti, non riuscirà comunque a fornire risultati positivi se i membri non si fidano l’uno dell’altro o – ancora peggio – non si fidano del proprio project manager.
Una mancanza di fiducia può manifestarsi in vari modi, ma nella maggior parte dei casi, il problema alla radice è la mancanza di relazioni forti e genuine all’interno del team.
Per lavorare insieme in modo produttivo, le persone devono capirsi e fidarsi l’una dell’altra.
4. Getting the most out of virtual meetings
Virtual meetings are one of the most effective ways for remote teams to share information, review progress and set priorities.
They are also a good opportunity to maintain relationships and become more familiar and comfortable with each other.
A virtual meeting should never be something obvious and improvised, but it must be planned very carefully.
Meetings should be regular enough for people to know what to expect from them, but not so regular as to interfere with their daily work.
5. Emphasizing responsibility
One of the most important activities for a virtual project manager is to make sure that each member feels responsible for their own work.
Because team members are often highly dependent on each other, having some people not following their commitments can make it difficult for the rest of the team to follow their own.
Virtual leaders should not only be an example when it comes to shaping responsibility, but they should also determine what is expected of everyone and how responsibilities are distributed.
Yet, communication is crucial, because it is impossible to hold someone responsible for an outcome when they have not fully understood what is expected of them.
By communicating expectations in advance and checking with people along the way, virtual project managers can build a solid foundation to make the entire team responsible.
Now we find ourselves at a time where it is necessary for people to be able to manage these virtual work environments.
A good virtual project manager can make the difference between an efficient remote team and one that fails to achieve goals consistently.
A good virtual project manager can understand that a remote team has very different needs and characteristics compared to a traditional one.
This will allow the implementation of solutions and practices that make it easier for everyone to succeed in their role whilst working remotely.