The Benefits and Challenges of Remote Project Management
In theory, virtual teams allow project managers to build ideal teams without many of the constraints they would otherwise face. For employees, they allow flexibility and freedom to achieve an optimal work-life balance.
At the same time, remote project management comes with certain hurdles. While it lets businesses progressively compete in an increasingly globalized society, the real challenge lies in adapting to the new workplace—which is essential now more than ever as virtual teams become more essential.
Benefits of Remote Project Management
1. Improved task ownership: Leading teams is a fundamental component of project management. That being said, your team must be equipped with the freedom and confidence to put forth alternative problem-solving techniques. Project teams (especially horizontal ones) have absolute visibility into the projects they are involved in. Subsequently, they comprehend the distinctions of every task and soon become the best judge to evaluate its urgency. Not only does this help them support each other, it promotes leadership and innovation—resulting in smooth project delivery.
2. Cost-effective: Working remotely is relatively cost-effective for both employer and employees. Office space and other financial expenses (such as utilities, system installation, etc.) are eliminated, while employees save on transportation.
3. Better work-life balance: Multitasking is what project management is all about. In such an over-pressurized environment, it might be overwhelming to stay on top of all projects. When you don’t have to travel, you can entirely focus on the work pinned to the schedule. The time saved from a long commute can be concentrated on project work.
Through individual work updates, you can also remain informed about how tasks progress. Primarily depending on this information, you can modify them to accomplish deliverables. You can also delegate preferences to the best-suited employees
4. Live reporting and feedback: Given that the global reach of a business typically extends across time zones, going virtual helps by forcing you to streamline communication with your teams. You can communicate updated project findings to make sure both teams and stakeholders are informed—and share pending work, important announcements and deadlines within seconds. This allows stakeholders to stay updated and reflect on progress.
5. More flexibility: Remote project management fosters flexibility, therefore allowing you to respond and adapt to any unexpected changes or challenges. While the in-house team has a set time for arriving and leaving the office, remote work allows people to manage workflows more independently. The flow of project management is responsive to flexible schedules.
Challenges in Remote PM
1. Collaboration: I have been managing projects remotely for the past two years with different teams working from Dubai, Malaysia, Egypt, India and Saudi Arabia. One of the most common challenges is collaborating from a different location. How productive can a team of graphics or web designers be working on the same project when they are spread across the globe—especially compared to teams working in the same place, where they can conveniently interact with one another without any real limitations?
Solution: Similar to project management software, there are several collaboration tools exclusively designed to ensure effective communication among different teams. You will primarily require something instant and more responsive. Many tools can help you by establishing an instant communication platform for remote teams that provides a user-friendly interface, instant messaging, notifications, file sharing, group communication, etc.
2. Productivity: Low productivity is an evident risk when employees work from home. In a setting without frequent oversight, some team members may not properly utilize their time.
Solution: Without questioning employees’ work ethics, one important way to make sure everyone is doing their job is to set expectations for every role and check the progress regularly. It’s impractical to expect everyone to work at the same pace, though you should have a general idea of how long tasks take to be accomplished. Make it a rule for employees to report on their activities by the end of the day or week. This will allow for frequent update regarding the progress and any concerns. The approach will enhance collaboration, productivity and transparency.
3. Building and maintaining trust: When it comes to remote work, trust concerns are what you will commonly come across—particularly with new team members. The same goes for clients, who will be more concerned when their projects are being accomplished remotely.
Solution: Again, you can easily find many tools to help you track progress and communicate with each other. Here are some other tips you should adopt:
- Be responsive and dependable. When the project management team completes designated tasks, the trust level typically remains high.
- Promote transparency and highlight the benefits to team members.
- Be strategic when it comes to choosing the right collaboration tools. Look for one that allows audio and video calls, quick file sharing, etc.
- Allow for shared goals that encourage employees to invest their interest and time to accomplish tasks. This will further boost their confidence and productivity.
- Avoid micromanagement, as it may minimize incentives.
- Lead by example and show your project team that you trust them.
Flexible schedules, the freedom to work from the comfort of your home, more time with friends and family, and many other benefits make remote project management a reliable choice. Businesses that embrace remote work focus on high productivity with minimal resources and time wastage. However, this growing trend also comes with challenges. I hope this article has helped you gain insights about remote project management and how you can get the best out of it—and successfully deal with the roadblocks it presents.