written by
Sean Thomas

The Project Manager's Guide to Handling Remote Workers Effectively

Project Management 5 min read

With the increasing use of remote teams, it has become relatively difficult for project managers to handle the usual work-life. They have to shift from face to face meetings to conference calling and give considerable autonomy to their teams. 

Out of sight, out of mind, might ring true in many parts of life, but while managing critical projects, you cannot afford to allow any kind of delay. Although it’s exciting to welcome remote employees to your team, managing those employees is more challenging than one may assume.

Remote management does not have the same kind of efficiency as in-house management, which makes your job much harder.Today, we will guide you through this challenge, whether you are managing remote employees or just hired your first remote worker. In this article, we will discuss x useful tips for managing remote workers effectively.

Create Clear Communication Guidelines

In remote management, it’s common for project managers to let communication fall lax, making their team operate independently. However, letting this happen can harm your existing workflow significantly. In the absence of good, open communication channels, remote workers tend to feel remote and forgotten, which affects their ability to deliver work on time.

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Photographer: Headway | Source: Unsplash

In larger companies, this can get even more complicated since many teams work remotely while others don’t. In these situations, it’s your duty as a project manager, to maintain the flow of information and ensure that everyone’s contribution is visible and transparent.

For this, you need to establish clear communication guidelines when you start remote work. It’s necessary to 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 workers know when they are expected to communicate. You can even set expected email turnaround time to prompt workers to maintain open lines of communication.

Make Sure Everyone Understands the Process

Lacking documented processes can harm your team even when you are working in-house. So understandably, the lack of such guidelines can create even greater problems when managing remote workers.

When you are not in the same location, it’s difficult for workers to seek your guidance instantly. Instead, they have top email you or post questions on the communication platform and then wait for your response before moving on with their work. These small things can create significant bottlenecks in the workflow that escalate to greater problems.

To prevent such problems from happening, you can create training programs for critical guidelines, so new workers are familiar with the basics. Maintaining documentation can also be useful in such situations since workers can always refer to them to clear any doubts.

Focus on Goals

Micromanagement is an extremely tricky task for most project managers. Trying to micromanage your team members can make them feel as if you don’t trust them or their ability. However, when it comes to remote work, it can sometimes be difficult not to micromanage due to the complexities of some projects.

Employees can take this as an issue of trust even if you micromanage during remote work. However, if you can track the progress of the remote team’s efforts goals instead of monitoring what they do every minute, then it’s less likely that your team will feel that they are being micromanaged.

Photographer: Estée Janssens | Source: Unsplash

When your team is achieving its goals on time and handling its workload efficiently, then you shouldn’t worry about micromanaging them. However, if the team fails to do that, then you can question them about their actions and justify your increased involvement.

Hold Team Members Accountable

Many remote members feel that they can don’t have to work as hard as they did in office. Therefore, it is your job to hold them accountable for their work. Establishing responsibilities and roles within the team and assigning strict deadlines for certain tasks can help your team perform efficiently.

At the same time, these initiatives can help members understand how their mistakes can cause delays and impact other members of the team. You can also relegate the responsibility of communicating and enforcing deadlines to senior members within the team.

If any person maintains behavior that threatens deadlines, you should talk to them face to face via video call. Talking to members directly and letting them know the consequences of their actions can prompt them to change behavior, or at least warn them of the impending disciplinary action.

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 diminishes 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.

Don’t Rule Out One-On-Ones

Team comradery is an essential part of remote management, so taking out the time to talk to your employees one-on-one goes a long way. These meetings allow team members to share any problems they are facing.

Many times, remote workers are facing problems they can’t bring up in group meetings, or are afraid of being misunderstood in emails. Having a one-on-one with workers can help air issues that are not discussed elsewhere. These meetings help team members understand their role and how they can align it with their overall career goals. Remember that mentoring your employees closely goes a long way in increasing employee retention.

Remote management is indeed challenging, but by following the tips listed above, you can improve as a project manager and handle remote employees more effectively. To learn more about topics related to project management, feel free to follow our website.

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