How to Successfully Manage Projects Remotely
There was a time, not so long ago, when the idea of managing projects remotely would have been laughed out of most offices. Since then, however, a few things have changed.
Many businesses are returning to the office after the pandemic, but a full return to work is not what many employees and employers want. They’ve seen firsthand the benefits that working from home can bring, which is why many businesses are looking at ways to incorporate remote and hybrid working into their day-to-day operations.
For project managers, technology is the crucial cog in the machine. Scoro’s project management software can make it possible not only to manage projects effectively but to deliver work that hits the mark time and time again.
Can Project Managers Work Remotely?
Is it possible to run projects smoothly and make sure they’re completed on time and within budget, all while managing a remote team? Absolutely. It’s not only possible, but with the right remote team management tools, it’s a lot easier than you might think.
Of course, there are challenges associated with remote project management, with a lack of visibility and working across different time zones being two of the most common. However, businesses can use a mix of remote project management methodologies to get the job done most effectively.
The theory behind remote project management is sound. It allows project managers to build their perfect project teams without many of the constraints they would ordinarily face, such as their location. Employees have the flexibility and freedom to achieve an optimal work-life balance, making them happier and more engaged with their work.
However, it would be remiss not to say that remote project management also comes with certain challenges. Yes, it helps businesses to compete in an increasingly globalized society, but it also brings new challenges, particularly when it comes to communication, scheduling, and building a company culture.
The good news is that, whether you’re new to project management for remote teams or simply want to sharpen your skills, Scoro is here to help.
What Are the Benefits of Remote Project Management?
While working remotely for even just one day a week was considered an employee perk in the past, it’s now becoming the norm. This shift was greatly accelerated due to Covid-19, with project teams, project managers, and employers all starting to realize the benefits it can bring.
1. Increased productivity
According to the Scoro Work from Anywhere Report, 58 percent of team members said their work productivity increased while working from home, with 21% feeling much more productive and 37% feeling somewhat more productive. These findings are mirrored by a CIPD study, with 33% of employers saying their productivity had improved due to remote working and only 23% claiming it had decreased.
2. Improved flexibility
Rather than working a strict 9-5, remote work enables employees to manage their workflows more independently and create a schedule that suits them. That helps to build more flexibility into the project team, improving your ability to adapt to any unexpected changes or challenges that may arise.
Depending on the progress of tasks, you can delegate work to the employees best-suited to accomplish those deliverables more quickly.
3. Better ownership of tasks, roles, and responsibilities
Trust is an important factor when managing the team behind any project. However, it carries extra weight when working with remote teams.
Project teams must have the confidence and freedom to manage their tasks, roles, and responsibilities when working remotely. That includes prioritizing their tasks, understanding when deadlines are unrealistic, and knowing when to ask for help. That level of ownership promotes leadership and innovation and enables smoother project delivery.
4. Streamlined communication
Project management for remote teams forces you to streamline how you communicate, mainly when working with employees and contractors across time zones. Rather than dragging them into physical meetings, you can share updated project findings, pending work, and new information about your project in seconds. That helps to keep all stakeholders informed without wasting their time.
5. A healthier work-life balance
When they don’t have to spend time traveling to the office, your teams can focus their efforts entirely on project work. This allows them to better accommodate their other life commitments, helping to create a happier, less stressed, and more engaged workforce.
Tips for Remote Project Management
If you’re thinking about becoming a remote project manager, or have found yourself in the position of managing a project team remotely for the first time, then here are a few tips to help you along the way.
Use time-tracking tools
When you’re managing a project team remotely, it’s important to build accountability into your workflows. Trusting your team is very important, but you also need to ensure that they are spending their time productively.
Remote project management tools such as Scoro have time-tracking tools built in. That allows you to see who’s working on what, for how long and to optimize activities that may be wasting their time.
You can also share and analyze key metrics of your team’s workload via one complete dashboard. That allows you to plan your hours more effectively and get a clear view of how everyone’s time is spent. Time tracking also enables you to identify bottlenecks and improve your project estimates.
Access a wider talent pool
Rather than being restricted to hiring talent that’s available locally, remote project management gives you the freedom to hire candidates from all over the world. Being able to hire the best fit for the role, regardless of their location, can help you upskill your project teams without necessarily increasing your costs.
Studies also show that remote workers are more likely to stay with their current employer. This boost in retention comes down to the simple fact that most remote workers are generally happier than team members who work in-house.
Can project managers work remotely? They can, but they’ll only be successful if they’re transparent.
Transparency is a critical value in remote work. For projects to be successful, PMs must start by setting crystal clear expectations for every team member and stakeholder. Without that, the combination of the ‘all hands on deck’ mentality of many small project teams and the self-sufficiency of remote workers can cause problems with overlapping work and miscommunication.
To avoid that, it’s crucial to create a project scope and take the time to identify the tasks for which each team member will be responsible. Assigning and prioritizing tasks ahead of time also helps to make team members accountable for their work.
Remote work removes the physical separation between the professional and personal lives of staff, which can harm the well-being of project teams. That’s why it’s so important to identify those at-risk areas and set clear boundaries accordingly.
The first step is to clearly define and communicate what the priorities of their projects are. They should also explain what constitutes an urgent demand, who is responsible for responding, and how they will do so. Other points to consider include:
- When everyone needs to be available;
- What communication methods you will use;
- Whether meetings are mandatory or voluntary;
- When people need to be reachable for collaboration on group work;
- How project deadlines are assigned;
- How employee workloads are monitored.
Setting these boundaries early on will help to keep everyone on track, improve the quality of project work, and reduce stress levels and burnout.
Get Your Team on the Right Track
Working remotely as a project manager can be a big adjustment, and there’s no perfect way to get the job done. The suitable method depends on what works for you, your project team, and the other internal and external stakeholders.
However, if you embrace the change and use the best remote project management tools at your disposal, you may soon be wondering why you didn’t make the switch to remote working sooner!
Scoro’s end-to-end work management software combines all of the tools you need to make your projects a success. It combines time tracking and enhanced collaboration with billing, sales, support, and CRM so you can manage all of your remote projects in one place. Sign up to start your free 14-day trial today.