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Advice for Remote Project Managers: How to Get the Most Out of Your Team During COVID-19

There’s no overstating how the COVID-19 pandemic has caused disruptions to businesses around the world and forced them to modify their operations to adapt to the new normal. If you’re in charge of a team, it’s not enough that you know basic management principles. It’s also crucial to understand how to be a remote leader as well.

Today’s leaders must be proactive and increase their skillset in order to be a better manager to their remote teams. A trend that is already been seen in how tomorrow’s leaders are being trained in higher education. Ryan Craig, a senior contributor at Forbes outlined how “colleges and universities need to get serious about equipping students with specific digital hard skills, particularly as a tsunami of collaboration platforms for remote work is about to hit entry-level job descriptions.” In fact, with colleges and universities switching towards remote learning due to the pandemic, this has already opened the door for more students to improve their skills and be better prepared for the modern workplace. Students undergoing an online masters in management and leadership will not only study areas like business ethics and organizational behavior, but will also get to experience what it is like to work remotely due to the course’s structure. And with universities making this a priority, businesses will follow suit and will actively look for leaders who have these modern skills.
Yet, you don’t need to completely retrain or go back to university to become a good remote manager. If your company has recently made the switch due to COVID-19, here is some advice to help you be an efficient leader.

  1. Develop remote work policies
    Not all industries benefit from remote work, but if you can, try to give your team flexibility to work from home in order to ensure their safety during this time. Just be sure to have the right systems in place so the transition will go smoothly. For instance, see to it that there’s tech support available should anyone in the team bump into problems with their equipment at home. It’s also best to identify and develop clearly defined policies to address virtual work concerns and outline the best remote practices. Early on in the switch, communicate all your goals and expectations, so everyone has a clear understanding of what they need to achieve.

  2. Ensure everyone has the tools they need
    Your team won’t be able to work their best if they don’t have the proper tools. See to it that they have access to things like team scheduling calendars, meeting reminders, appointment booking software, messaging apps, task management platforms, so they can do their job better and reach the necessary key performance indicators without trouble. A remote leader should also encourage their staff to invest in ergonomic furniture.

  3. Trust your team more
    You need to develop a strong sense of trust in your team and each member’s capabilities. It can prove to be difficult at first, especially if you have no prior experience with working remotely. It would help if you avoided over monitoring and micromanaging, and instead encourage self-management so they can be accountable for their work. While there’s nothing wrong with briefing them about their expected work, tracking them closely will only make them feel pressured. In order to strike the right balance consult with your team to hear their thoughts. And whenever you get the chance, remind them that they are valued and trusted.

  4. Encourage constant communication
    Communication is the lifeblood of a remote team. Unlike in a physical office, it’s trickier to get in touch with each other. It makes it all the more important to keep close tabs on your team members and maintain regular communication to facilitate continued collaboration. Try to make yourself available as much as you can, so they know that they can reach out to you whenever they need to. Take advantage of digital communication tools to make this possible, as these can help you conduct meetings and discussions regularly.

  5. Praise and reward for a job well done
    Inspiring your team to do their best is more important now than ever. The current situation is enough to keep overall morale low, but praising and acknowledging your colleagues for a job well done during online meetings and huddles can go a long way. Celebrate their accomplishments when they’ve met their goals, and if possible, do it in front of their peers and executives. You may even want to take things up a notch by offering rewards and tokens of appreciation.
    While the pandemic has up-ended the business world, it has hastened in change rather than causing it. A shift to more remote work was always the direction business was going, which is why it is important that today’s leaders are ready to lead these new types of teams.

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Exclusively written for
by Karen Greenwood.

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