written by
Sean Thomas

Managing Remote Teams as a Project Manager

Project Management 4 min read

Being a project manager can be a complex experience, especially if you have to manage a remote team with diverse requirements. The complexity of remote work and distributed teams makes for an even challenging experience, as organizations find ways to manage the diverse requirements and ensure monotony across the board.

Many organizations experienced the benefits of remote work during the pandemic and haven’t let go of the model since. The easy scheduling routine for remote teams and the ability to ensure communication, despite the apparent disadvantages of remote work, has allowed organizations to continue on the trend.

However, regardless of the ease that remote work provides, there still are certain challenges that come with the process. In this article, we take a look at how project managers can manage a remote team in their workplace. We also explain a few challenges to help build up what the fuss is all about. Stay with us as we make remote work easier for you as a project manager.

Photographer: XPS | Source: Unsplash

Challenges of Managing a Remote Project Team

If you are new to managing a remote project team, you won’t be fully aware of the challenges that come with the process. We mention the challenges of managing remote teams below to help explain the process to you:

Fewer Opportunities for Spontaneous Communication

Project management is all about spontaneous meetings and communication. All project managers reading this article will be able to vouch for the fact that there rarely are planned meetings. All the meetings and the communication you have with employees are spontaneous in nature and require almost instant communication.

When working from the office, project managers can instantly run to a team member and communicate requirements. However, the same cannot be said about managing remote teams. The dynamics of managing a remote team are different than they are when managing a team present inside your office, which is why managers often have to wait for communication.

Harder to Build a Community

Project management is all about interaction and building a community of like-minded individuals. You may not be able to succeed at the job if you don’t have a team of like-minded individuals with similar interests and likes.

With remote work, it is harder to establish a monotonous culture that remains the same across the board. Keeping this in mind, it is absolutely necessary that organizations and managers look to build a community and foster relationships among remote members.

Harder to Recognize Issues

Managing a remote project team can be hard, because issues don’t pop up as they usually do in other teams. Remote project teams are dependent on members to take up autonomy and not take decisions lightly. Project managers have a hard time trusting employees with key projects and tasks, especially since they aren’t sure that the employees will live up to the task assigned to them.

Photographer: Andrew Neel | Source: Unsplash

Best Practices for Remote Project Managers

While the issues listed above highlight the complications of project management, we make the situation better by also mentioning some of the best practices project managers can follow to manage remote teams. Run through the list below to find out these solutions.

Set Protocols for Communication

Sure, we mentioned that spontaneous communication is a must in project management, but if you have to abide to the norm of remote work, you have to set standard protocols for communication. Programs like Slack and Google Hangouts make it easier for you to communicate with each other whenever the need be. You can still have spontaneous chats with employees and can get updates from them in a matter of seconds.

Make sure that communication protocols are laid upfront so that employees don’t have problems with them. Let employees know just when they should use video chats and when they should be available in personal chat. Communication standards should be set across the team.

Have Digital Meetups

Remote work doesn’t necessarily mean that you should give up on meetings altogether. In fact, with the number of options available in the digital world today, you can easily prioritize digital meetups. Platforms such as Zoom and Skype allow you to have group meetings and conferences with team members in the digital world.

You can ask all employees to attend such meetings so that everyone is on board with what is happening and what needs to be done.

Have Scheduled Check-ins

Remote project management requires you to have scheduled check-ins, so everyone is on board with what’s happening. You can also set calendar alerts for when you should check in with different team members. You can develop individual relationships with your employees if you check in with them regularly and schedule them in a personal app or calendar.

Get Creative with Employee Recognition

Some of your team members are still working hard, even with the relative ease of working from home. As a manager, you need to make sure that all employees breaking a sweat from home get the recognition that they deserve.

Recognition is important for employees when they are working from home. Appreciate and award all employees that put the extra mile with bonuses and rewards.

Understand Employee Grievances

Remote work or work from home does open the door to unique employee grievances, which weren’t part of the work culture previously. As a manager, you should understand your employee grievances and should understand that there will be a few personal and emotional breathers. Just treat employees and team members as human, and they will extend you the courtesy back.

Managing a remote team isn’t much different from managing an in-person team. With the tips above, you can acclimatize yourself to the dynamics of remote teams and can succeed in this position.