Okay, everyone, it’s time to push “start” on the washing machine, tell the kids not to interrupt you unless someone’s bleeding, and push the cat off your laptop.
Today we are working from home.
For most of you, this is probably something new. The majority of us report to an office during the day where we hold meetings in actual conference rooms, have all of our files and software tools on our work computer, and are not wearing pajamas.
But for a little while things are going to be different, and that’s okay.
I’m here to tell you that remote project management is possible and productive. In fact, I’ve been doing it for the past 10 months with one of my clients, simply for the fact that it’s the best fit for them. I’d like to share what I’ve learned for both my fellow project managers and those of you whose organizations have projects in the works.
- Keep up the communication. Even back in February, where you were sitting at your work desk, it’s unlikely everyone involved in your project was sitting there with you. You had to reach out to them via communication tools like phone, email, or text, and the good news is you still have access to those! Project managers, you’ll still need to be aware of the communication management plan (a component of the project, program, or portfolio management plan that describes how, when, and by whom information about the project will be administered and disseminated) as well as the preferred communication methods, formats and contents. Keep in mind, these may have changed for your client since some or all of the stakeholders may be working from home as well. If you haven’t already, reassess and implement those communication changes right away.
- The Five “C”s still apply. Even though a lot of rules (like business casual attire and no pets in the office) don’t seem to apply at home, this is no time for a project manager to get sloppy. Stick to the PMP Five “C”s: correct grammar and spelling, concise expression and elimination of excess words, clear purpose and expression, coherent logical flow of ideas, controlling flow of words and ideas. It will instill CONFIDENCE and demonstrate that even while the world is in a state of flux, your projects are in good hands.
- Take advantage of technology. Okay, here’s a big secret I’m going to let out of the bag: you don’t really need your work office. It’s true. All the tools you need to do your job can be accessed from anywhere with a decent internet connection. At Solarity we use Microsoft Teams as a platform to communicate, consolidate and collaborate between people from all over the state, country and world. For video chat meetings, there are even options like blurring your background if you find yourself tuning in under less-than-optimal conditions. Not currently set up with a good remote platform? No worries. Microsoft is offering Teams free of charge during the Covid-19 pandemic. There are a lot of tools for getting started with Teams, but if you need some trusted assistance, we can help with that, too.
- Don’t forget the people aspect! When you aren’t dealing with people face to face, there are certain challenges that simply come with being human. Distance and disconnect invite parties to get distracted, try to multitask, or simply miss or misinterpret nonverbal cues. To combat these issues, we encourage frequent, short meetings, preferably with a video component. Not only will you keep up visibility on the project, you’ll also encourage personal interaction and good vibes, which, let’s face it, we all need right now.
- Stay organized. Lastly, make sure you stay organized. Again, a digital platform that everyone can access from their remote locations will help with this. At Solarity we use strategies like maintaining a living, easy-to-digest status report as a simple way to check in on a project at any moment or share a project’s current status with someone who isn’t familiar with it.
Remember, change often leads to resilience. If you establish a way to move forward in the current crisis, you can feel more confident that your business or your clients’ businesses can weather future storms as well.
Want to see our status report or learn more about tools to help you manage projects remotely now and in the future? Contact us. We’re ready and willing to help from afar right now, and we look forward to a good old fashioned handshake when we all come out the other side.
About the Author
Cole Guthrie, is a Project Manager with Solarity. Cole provides PM services to organizations by managing key projects by planning, initiating, monitoring and executing client projects based on their needs.
Our mission is to help people, organizations, and communities THRIVE! Our broad range of experience and knowledge in a range of different industries allows us to customize our approach to fit the situation. We work in total partnership with our clients to understand their business needs and the current environment, and then match the right amount of process to meet the culture and the project.