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Any HR professional will tell you that the remote workforce is growing. A Gallup poll in 2017 found that 43% of Americans work remotely, an increase from 4% in 2012. Some companies, such as Buffer.com and Chess.com, have completely virtual teams that work remotely. They can be located in multiple time zones and even across different countries.
Remote workers report greater flexibility and freedom. Project managers who are used to managing an in-house team will face new challenges when working with a distributed workforce.
Although your team might not be in the same room as you, it is your responsibility to ensure they are. How can we rise to the occasion?
Management Off-site vs. Management Off-site vs.
A distributed team may seem completely foreign to project managers from the past. But how is managing virtual teams any different to managing on-site teams.
Here are some areas of concern that can be caused by remote teams. You will see that none are significantly different from the issues we deal with every day.
We are not all under the same roof
It may be impossible to drop by your colleague’s remote workplace. If you could, you might end up having a meeting on their couch. This is especially true for freelance PMs, whose work can resemble that of consultants as they move from one project to the next throughout the day.
Even though your team may be spread across different time zones or locations, you are likely well-versed in building relationships across geographical boundaries. The foundations of success, including basic meeting practices, communication skills and the use of enabling technologies, are already in place. They just need to be modified for managing remote relationships. As you experimented until you found the best time and medium to connect with your valued supplier’s, remote workers must be managed with care. We do business with long-distance customers, agents, project sponsors, and other stakeholders in today’s global marketplaces.
Take a deep breath and remember that you already have the foundational skills to manage a virtual team.
We have tight deadlines and budgets.
Remote work, especially if the virtual team is new, will result in setup costs and downtime. Project managers should be cautious about introducing remote work arrangements due to today’s tight budgets and just-in time production schedules.
This isn’t just for virtual teams. All new initiatives (adding staff or tools, adopting new ways of working) require resources. If managed well, new initiatives can lead to productivity gains that exceed initial overhead. Research in the industry shows that virtual teams can lead to productivity gains.
We aren’t used to virtual communication
Communication is a key component of the work of project managers. According to the claim, 90% of a PM’s day is spent communicating. When coordinating efforts among teams spread across the globe, communication is a crucial element of the job.
We PMs are used to communicating with our sponsors via status reports and coaching team members on how to improve their performance.
It’s true, however, that timezone differences can make communication with distant parties more difficult.