How to Manage Remote Project Teams Effectively
The number of companies with a remote workforce is only getting bigger — 69 percent of companies already allow remote work and 16 percent have gone fully remote. Employees prefer working remotely because it gives them a better work-life balance. In fact, over 99 percent of employees want to work remotely at least once in their careers.
Hiring remote employees gives organizations to hire talent without any location constraints and it also helps them save money on company infrastructure. While deciding to embrace the remote culture is easy, implementing it successfully within the company can be incredibly challenging.
In order to lead a successful remote team, managers need to understand how project management is done remotely and the challenges of managing remote project teams and identify the right tools that can help them get over those challenges. After all, in remote project management, it becomes the responsibility of the managers to guide and support team members throughout this journey.
What is a remote project team?
A remote project team is a group of professionals working from different physical locations on a unified project. All the team members work separately from different locations, cities, and timezones. Remote work helps organizations achieve higher employee engagement and satisfaction which in turn allows them to retain top talent successfully.
According to a survey, 87 percent of remote employees experience less stress and 30 percent believe they are able to accomplish more in less time.
Types of remote teams
Not being co-located is not the only distinctive characteristic of a remote project team. There are several types used for different purposes and market natures:
Fully remote teams: The name pretty much explains the term clearly; everyone involved in the project works from their homes or a separate office.
Hybrid teams: Some team members work from a centralized location while others work remotely.
Flex teams: Team members have the flexibility to work both remotely as well from a co-located space.
Advantages of working as a remote project team
Remote work helps organizations achieve higher employee engagement and satisfaction which in turn allows them to retain top talent successfully. Here are some benefits of working remotely as a project team
The office is a space for distractions of all kinds. According to a survey, 44 percent of the respondents say they were less distracted and were able to get more done than when they were in the office. Having the flexibility to work whenever they want, makes them adapt to their natural energy cycles and thus be more productive.
The number of companies that offer remote work as a desirable perk is exploding in the last few years. A shocking 95 percent of employers believe that offering remote work played a major role in retaining their employees.
According to a survey, 87 percent of remote employees experience less stress. Remote work makes it easier for employees to have a life outside of work. They have more time to spend with family, friends, and pets, which works wonders in bringing their stress levels down.
Access to top talent
Hiring only in one geographic location drastically limits the extent of your talent pool. Being remote opens your options to the whole world, letting the brightest people join your team without the commuting radius affecting their decision. With more Gen Z people entering the workforce, a whopping 70 percent say the ability to work remotely is an important factor in accepting a job offer.
Office space isn’t cheap. The cost of running remote teams is nothing in comparison. The only overhead costs are the SaaS tools you’ll be investing in. A project management tool like Kissflow Project, tools for video conferencing like Zoom, and G Suite is pretty much all you need to get your team running.
Challenges in managing a remote project team
While the benefits of remote working are as clear as day, managing remote project teams comes with its own set of challenges:
- Not able to set the right schedule and timeline
- Lack of communication in project and cohesion within the team
- Missing accountability
- Fostering the company culture
- Inability to respect each team member’s time
4 tips for effective remote project management
Some of the best practices on how to manage a remote team in a project effectively are:
1. Trust your team members and give them space
Since remote employees no longer clock in and out of the office, they need some kind of boundaries to outline their personal and work hours. If you have team members working in different time zones, you can’t expect all of them to be available whenever you want them to be. Instead, discuss everyone’s work schedules in advance and set up deadlines accordingly. It is important to respect the time of your teammates as much as you’d expect them to respect yours.
For managers, it is crucial to avoid micromanaging remote teams in a project. If you keep checking on employees or monitoring their activities, it may alienate or demoralize them. The truth is, most remote employees get more work done when they are working on their own, so it is unlikely for you to see a drop in productivity.
You should trust your team members to manage their time effectively. Whether they start the work a little late or take frequent breaks, it shouldn’t be a problem as long as they are able to get the work done.
2. Provide clear goals and expectations
Managing a remote project team effectively is when everyone clearly understands the team’s goals and what they can do to achieve those goals. Create a document with a neatly organized plan along with individual responsibilities. With remote teams, you are mostly communicating through emails and instant messaging applications. If you don’t word your instructions correctly, then you may end up confusing or even offending the team members.
That is why, when communicating online with your team, make sure you are as specific as possible about the project goals and expectations. For instance, instead of saying a vague statement like ‘I need this ASAP,’ say ‘I need this work finished by 3 pm PST.’
3. Offer clear and direct feedback
Managers need to be comfortable in offering both positive and negative feedback to remote employees. Get as specific about your feedback as possible so that the employees can understand your expectations and perform better in the future. If an employee’s performance isn’t up to the mark, then provide them with constructive feedback instead of just criticism. Let them know what they did wrong and how they can rectify the problem.
At the same time, when an employee performs well, make sure to recognize their efforts. You can also have a recognition program for your employees where they are rewarded for meeting certain milestones which will help motivate them.
4. Tools for remote project teams
You can only have a highly productive remote project team if you have a project management software to back it up. You need the right tools to ensure that your remote team has a central space to communicate, collaborate, and access all the work-related data.
The online project management software that you choose should be able to help you in:
- Tracking project milestones and deadlines
- Assigning tasks to different employees
- Streamlining and automating business processes
- Simplifying communication channels among different teams and departments
- Giving employees access to all the information they need to accomplish their daily tasks
How Kissflow Project can help you
Kissflow Project is designed for teams that work from different physical locations. As a virtual replacement of the physical office space, Kissflow offers a central location for employees to access everything they need in order to manage their daily work activities seamlessly.
You can create projects, assign tasks to team members, and collaborate seamlessly. Since Kissflow is a cloud-based tool, it can be accessed from any location and any device which makes it all the easier for remote employees to work closely together. Streamlining organizational operations and remote work processes also help improve the employee experience.