COVID-19 is deeply affecting how teams work and communicate around the world. Most companies are allowing staff to work from home to stop the virus from spreading. The outbreak has changed the workplace and started an era where remote work is the norm.
Since remote management does not have the same kind of efficiency as in-house management, project managers must work harder to meet tight deadlines. Because of this, many project managers are struggling to manage their project portfolios successfully.
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Although project managers have experience handling uncertain situations, a global pandemic isn’t something anyone was ready for. However, project managers can cope also with the uncertainty of the current situation and handle their team members effectively. In this article, we will discuss 9 tips for managing project teams during COVID-19.
Ensure Safety of Employees
As a project manager, your first priority should always be to protect your team. It’s important to limit the travel time of employees and encourage everyone to work from home. Your team’s health matters more than any project’s deadline.
Create a project Working Group where you can discuss a series of scenarios. By mutual discussion, you can point out potential risks and plan how to mitigate them. Unless you identify projects that are currently at risk, you can endanger other projects trying to save the other project.
Determine If a Project Needs to be Delayed
You should consider starting a conversation with the project board, client, and/or project sponsors. Understandably, in the beginning, your team will need some room to get used to the remote work. Therefore, the project manager should approach them before they approach him or her. Delaying or halting projects can help your team keep their pace optimal and adjust to the new routine.
Maintain Project Visibility
When we’re working remotely, it is easier for project teams to fall out of sync and become disorganized. It’s extremely important to maintain project visibility if the team is not present at the same physical location.
Lack of visibility creates unwarranted delays in projects and diminish the quality of the project. To save your team from such problems, you can utilize project management software and create a central and fully accessible dashboard for your project.
At the same time, you can utilize shared spaces that everyone can access. By notifying members with recent updates, you can improve communication and visibility while enhancing collaboration between them.
Provide Timely, Clear Communication
It’s important for project managers to establish clear communication guidelines. They must spell out how your team prefers to communicate, which can be through calls, emails, video conferencing, text messages, or communication tools such as Slack.
Similarly, it’s equally important to let team members know when you expect them to be available. To cope with these issues, many managers set an expected email turnaround time, so team members stay diligently to respond to emails and maintain open lines of communication.
Develop and Implement Clear Remote Work Policies
Lacking remote work policies can be detrimental to your project team. When you are not in the same location, it’s difficult for workers to seek your guidance instantly. Setting up guidelines can help teams tackle virtual work concerns and follow best practices. Ideally, your remote work policies should cover workflows, logistics, methods for interactions, and security issues.
Utilize Online Project-Collaboration Tools
Remote project teams need access to suitable cloud-based collaboration tools given by the administration. Project collaboration tools are crucial for remote project management and conferencing, as they ensure work-collaboration between your team.
These tools must not only give options for virtual meetings and video conferencing, but also enable them to share files, synchronize, and track and report project status.
Virtual Meetings and Video Conferencing
Since face-to-face meetings are no longer an option, project teams have to rely on other methods to discuss and share ideas. Project teams have to make deliberate efforts to interact with each other remotely.
Video conferencing tools are an excellent way to stay connected with team members, not only for projects but also for sharing ideas regarding company-wide topics. There are many collaboration tools in the market that offer video chat, video conferencing, screen-sharing, presentation streaming, as well as real-time and private chat.
File Sharing and Synchronization
File sharing is an essential feature for ensuring thorough communication in a project. However, amidst social distancing measures of COVID-19, sharing files online has become a necessity. Fortunately, there is no shortage of online tools to facilitate this process.
Cloud-based tools like Box, Google's G Suite, Dropbox, NextCloud, OneDrive, Samepage, and Wimi provide teams the perfect set of tools to ensure the secure transfer of files. Users can enjoy features such as audit trails, access controls, collaboration, and messaging. Many of these tools are facilitated by search filters, workflow management, and encryption. Teams won’t face any issues sharing files anywhere around the globe in a matter of seconds.
Project Status Tracking and Status Reporting
Conveying the status of projects isn’t a major issue normally, but in a remote workplace, collaboration tools play a key role in providing teams with recent updates regarding the product. These cloud-based tools allow teams to track, report project status, communicate, collaborate, video chat, share files, and perform all face-to-face activities without any hassle.
Project management software such as Trello and Wrike, as well as project portfolio management (PPM) solutions such as Changepoint give applications on-the-go activities to assist remote teams in completing their projects on time, regardless of their location.
Managing your project team remotely can be extremely challenging, especially if you have never handled remote workers before. You are bound to make some mistakes in the beginning, but with experience and the help of these tips, you can turn a remote project team into your strength.
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