5 Common Issues That Impact Remote Project Management

5 Common Issues that Impact Remote Project Management

Technology has made it possible to organize projects without regard for geography. Organizations large and small have added remote projects to their toolbox.

Nimble technology companies are opting for a fully remote workforce, while multinational corporations are putting together talented management teams that span two or more continents.

Remote team management has unique challenges that can cause a team to not be as effective as a local team that meets face-to-face.

Remote Project Management

In this article, we’ll cover five common issues that arise for remote team managers and ways to address them.

Nimble technology companies are opting for a fully remote workforce, while multinational corporations are putting together talented management teams that span two or more continents.

Remote team management has unique challenges that can cause a team to not be as effective as a local team that meets face-to-face.

In this article, we’ll cover five common issues that arise for remote team managers and ways to address them.

1. Loss of Motivation

Without the day-to-day personal interaction that employees get when they work in the same physical workplace, it’s easy for remote team members to feel disconnected from the project and disengage.

When that happens, productivity will suffer.

Project managers often struggle with this problem and sometimes decide remote teams don’t work well.

There are effective solutions to this problem that successful remote project managers have found. One is to be proactive and explicit about expectations.

In a local workplace, many expectations are reinforced informally by coworkers, which allows managers to avoid the need to spell them out frequently.

Remote teams, however, involve far less coworker socialization, so the manager needs to communicate needs and expectations regularly.

Another solution is to explore the communication technologies that are available today for remote teams.

A technology that’s closer to face-to-face interaction will forge stronger connections between team members. The result will be better and sustained engagement.

2. Time Zone Differences

If you’re managing a remote team that has members in different continents, then you’ll encounter this difficulty immediately.

When the time zone difference reaches eight hours,it can become a challenge to arrange meetings with team members that they can accommodate regularly.

Team members can become disgruntled when they are expected to work outside of normal business hours to attend meetings.

The solution to this problem can take two different forms.

One tactic that managers can try is to break up the tasks of a project such that the team members who are working on each one are located close together. Basically, improved task management with well-defined task assignments and task dependencies. These will ensure meeting each other online will be practical.

You can also reduce the number of video or phone conferences to lighten the inconvenience to the whole team. Never place expectations upon certain team members to regularly attend meetings at inconvenient hours.

Move the meeting times so the inconvenience is shared equally.

3. Cultural Difficulties

The more geographically disparate a project’s team members become, the more difficult it can be to create a strong sense of shared culture between them.

A company culture depends on socialization and frequent interaction, and this principle holds true for remote teams.

It may seem impossible to create a workplace culture when your team lives in different regions or countries, but there are ways around this difficulty.

One way to overcome the problem of remote teams not meeting and forming social bonds is to arrange team building events that bring them together.

Successful remote team projects start forming strong social bonds with a face-to-face kickoff event. Long-term projects that last for a year or more will see the benefits of periodic face-to-face meetings.

Outside of team-building events, remote project managers need to be more proactive than they would when working with local teams.

If remote team members only interact during scheduled team meetings or through messaging services, it’ll be difficult to communicate and reinforce the company culture.

A solution is to create socialization time outside of official business meetings that use video conferencing to mimic face-to-face interaction.

4. Miscommunications

Online, telephone, and videoconferencing technologies offer multiple ways for remote teams to connect and communicate with each other, but the nature of remote work increases miscommunication problems substantially.

When teams work in the same location, it’s much easier for them to work out miscommunications informally.

Remote workers won’t have this ability unless they communicate regularly outside of business meetings.

Project managers need to create a team culture that encourages as much open and informal interaction as possible.

If team members are encountering miscommunications that happen after they finish meetings, encourage them to reconnect through chat or direct phone calls to clear up those problems.

If conflicts arise between team members, managers need to take more of an active role in diffusing them than they would in a traditional team.

Technology can play a role in solving miscommunication problems, too.

In case a communication tool is not working well for a team, the manager should find a different tool or mode of communication to eliminate the problem.

Perhaps group chats work poorly for a team that’s accustomed to videoconferencing, or vice versa.

Staying flexible regarding the technology used for a remote project is important to its success.

#5 Technology and Security

Security can be another issue that hampers remote projects, depending on the sensitivity of the project’s data.

If you’re working within a regulated industry like healthcare or financial services, the security aspect of your technology choices can be difficult to navigate.

It may be difficult for remote team members to get clearance to access sensitive company or customer data because of company-wide security policies.

It’s important to consider and plan a project’s security and technology requirements for team members to be productive working from remote locations.

In case remote access isn’t allowed by current security policies, then the project manager will need to decide how to handle that before the launch date.

Establishing secure procedures, adopting secure technologies, and working with the security professionals in the organization can head off these problems before they happen.

Conclusion

Project managers often encounter one or more of these common issues that arise with remote teams.

Experience has shown the solutions that work best when they happen, and you can eliminate many of these problems from the start with a proactive management strategy.

When managers implement remote project strategies, these teams can be more effective than traditional teams because of the diverse talent that they can assemble.

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