Project Management for Remote WorkersProject management is a systematic method of managing projects from start to finish so that they achieve the desired results while staying on budget and on time. Project management begins when a project is officially authorized and then moves into the planning stage in which the objectives are defined and a solid project plan is ultimately created. From that point, project team members, budgets and other resources are assigned to carry out the project plan.

Throughout the project, the project manager is responsible for monitoring progress against the plan so that adjustments can be made if necessary. Once the objective is met and the results are accepted, the project is then reviewed and officially closed.

Benefits of Project Management

Project management provides several important benefits, but its most significant benefit may be the structure and processes that it generates, particularly for projects that are large in scope, require significant resources or have many interdependent tasks. Project management ensures that projects meet deadlines, stay within scope and budget, use resources efficiently and achieve the desired outcome. With the use of remote technology, software and certain social media platforms, project management can be especially beneficial for virtual teams and teams that are geographically dispersed.

Pros and Cons of Remote Project Teams

Remote teams are becoming much more prevalent due to the rapid development of communications technology. The option to work remotely is very appealing to many employees who appreciate the additional schedule flexibility and the ability to save time and costs associated with commuting. However, remote employees may also feel isolated and “out of the loop” and may also face distractions. For some, it can be easy to expand their works hours to the point that it feels like they are always working.

Many managers find that their remote employees are as productive, if not more so, than their office-based employees. They may also be able to hire the best talent since they don’t have geographical boundaries. In addition, companies can save on overhead related to office space and parking. Other managers have concerns about their decreased ability to directly monitor employees and difficulties getting to know team members and create a cohesive team.

Project Management for Remote Teams

Good online project management processes can help build a strong and effective team of remote employees. Successful project managers start by getting to know their team and making sure their team members get to know each other. This helps build camaraderie and a sense of unified purpose.

At the beginning of the project, managers should hold a kickoff meeting in which they introduce a team plan and schedule so that all team members know what to expect in terms of communication, roles and objectives. They should make sure that everyone on the team has clear direction and knows what each person is responsible for, how the work will get done and how progress will be tracked and measured.

While the project is in progress, managers should provide their team with regular status updates and communicate frequently with individual team members and the team as a whole. Tools and software, especially cloud-based software for web conferencing, instant messaging, screen and file sharing and task management can go a long way towards keeping everyone on track and in sync.

Remote teams often require project managers to make some adjustments to their own management style. Managers should understand that most remote employees are accustomed to some degree of freedom with setting their own schedule. They are also used to managing their own workload. As such, managers should avoid micromanaging remote workers and dictating schedules unless things begin to adversely impact the team, the project or the business.

Managers should also be cognizant of the fact that their team members are often located in different in time zones. Some remote teams find it easier to agree on a particular time zone and schedule meetings and deadlines as if the entire team were on the same time zone. Others defer to the time zone that the client is located in and some compromise and rotate between meeting times that suit different team members.