How to Answer the Challenges of Remote Project Management in 2021by@mwaleeds
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How to Answer the Challenges of Remote Project Management in 2021

by Muhammad Waleed SiddiquiJanuary 26th, 2021
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Work from home is the new normal in 2021, which is a bad news for first-time project managers. The good news is anyone can master the art of remote management.
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The world is going through a difficult time, no thanks to the COVID-19 health pandemic. Last year, many businesses completely transitioned to a remote work environment.

The ones that didn’t do it then are doing it this year because there’s no escape to it. There are numerous pros and cons to virtual teams. But, if you are a first time remote / virtual project manager, chances are you're facing more challenges than opportunities. 

No more going to someone’s desk and asking them all about their work in a quick 5 to 10 minutes talk. When you are working and managing things remotely, you have to drop them a message and wait for them to get back to you.

In the same vein, you no longer have the ease of gathering teams in meeting rooms to catch up on everything about the project so that everybody’s on the same page.

With virtual project management, you have to go through the madness of creating a virtual meeting room, sending the whole time an invite, making sure everybody joins in, everyone can hear everyone and nobody is sleeping through the whole meeting, sending across the meeting minutes, and so much more.

All of this can be more than overwhelming. But, don’t worry, with the right plan and the right project management instruments, you can not only ace all the collaborative meetings, but everything else about the big game of remote project management.

Here are all the answers to your remote project management questions.

Set Communication Standards

When you have a remote workforce, communication is the key. It is also your biggest challenge.

Sure, there are emails and other communication platforms like Skype, Slack, Google Hangout, and Microsoft Teams (although they are old now, Space is a new project management platform). But, as a project manager you need to set standards for your team communications ahead of time.

For most people, it is pretty obvious when to use email, personal message, or group message. However, it’s safe to write down such standards of communication in a document and send it across. 

Use the Right Project Management Tool

What is the most important part of your job as a project manager?

  • To manage the project by keeping everyone in the loop,
  • checking what they are working on,
  • prioritizing and updating the status of each task,
  • sharing documents and other collateral with the teams, etc. 

The thing is, often remote project managers forget that there are online tools that will do the majority of the work for them. For example, there are boards help you visualize all the processes and understand the current state of your project at all times.

Schedule Retrospective Meetings With Your Team

Alright, so you have a board to track each and every thing going on in the project. Now you need to host retrospective meetings to touch base with your team on those things on a regular basis.

Retrospectives also help you build a successful team. Weekly video calls are a great way to do that. Outline the project progress, what is done, what needs to be done, what needs to be revised or improved, who will do what, and so on.

This will help you gather input from the team, take notice of their issues, and ultimately build the most productive remote team on the planet.

P.S. If you have a hard time with these meetings, try these 8 tips to reinvent your project meetings and win.

Schedule Remote Meetups

Here, you need to notice the difference between meetings and meetups.

Meetups are less formal where you chat with your team members about their lives outside of the office. A fun idea is to foot the bill for lunch and schedule a lunchtime meetup so the team can hang out like they would on a normal office day.

Such meetups will be great for maintaining culture in a remote work environment and foster healthy relationships with your colleagues.

Individual Check-Ins With Your Team Members

This is kind of a meetup with individual team members. Group discussions and conversations are great, but you also need to do 1-on-1 check-ins with your team members.

It’s your choice to keep these check-ins casual and laid back, just like the team meetups. But you can also choose to do them in a formal way, whatever suits your project management style. 

Recognize the Efforts of Your Team and Reward Them

This can be done by acknowledging little things like someone’s creative idea and someone’s help in meeting a tight deadline. Announce these things formally in company meetings and talk about them in team meetups. If you can, send over a physical reward to your team members to say “job well done”. Celebrate the little wins to motivate your remote teams.  

The Bottom Line

With everyone working remotely, project management isn’t just for project managers anymore.

It’s just becoming the new way of how work gets done
now. With the new ways come new challenges and unannounced responsibilities.

In order to face those challenges and make the most of those opportunities, you need a plan and the right tools to put that plan into action. So, gear up and take the control of this remote project management game because what if working from home goes on forever?
But, don’t worry, once you start doing things remotely and get the hang of
managing your virtual teams, you won’t want things to go back to the way they were.