Posted on May 2, 2013 · Posted in Management, Project Management

More and more companies and teams are working and communicating virtually today. The massive spread and convenience and flexibility of technology have made this easier than ever. In fact, most companies have recognized that they can save money by having teams work remotely and virtually. This saves the cost on work space, equipment, and generally workers are happy with the flexibility and convenience of working where they are comfortable.

While working remotely has many benefits to it, it certainly doesn’t come without its challenges. One of the most important things managers should keep in mind is to be adaptable and flexible to change. Some of the more experienced managers may have difficulty conceiving the concept of working remotely and virtual teams. However, it’s no secret that we currently live and work in a constantly changing and improving world and society; this goes for the professional world as well. Managers must be able to adapt to change and move forward with modern organizations and how they function and play an active role in our society.

Furthermore, another area where professional project managers, as effective and efficient managers and leaders, should be flexible when working with remote teams virtually is trust. Of course, like any relationship—be it personal or professional—there needs to be a certain level of give and take. While project managers need to extend a certain level of trust for those teams who work remotely and virtually, working at this capacity also requires diligence, focus, and motivation to complete tasks outside an office environment.

Project Communication

In regards to project communication, how does working virtually among teams affect this? It’s true that project managers need to change their communication tactics to effectively get messages across to team members. It’s also true that even relying on extending messages via email doesn’t always get the job done. Any email communications should also be followed up with regular conference calls or virtual group meetings to make sure everyone is aware and on the same page. Even thereafter, it’s important for project managers to properly and thoroughly document any changes or messages that have been communicated. Not only have you put them in writing, sent them to team members, reiterated and reviewed them during meetings, and you can also even archive the documented messages and correspondence for team members to review on their own time and when they need to refer to it.

While this is certainly a great project communication method, it can also seem a little too much like micro-management. There is a balance that project managers should consider when communicating messages related to process or projects. The other half of this balance is trust. While project managers will certainly make the effort to make sure all messages are properly extended through the teams and make sure everyone is on the same page as necessary, they also need to instill a certain level of trust in their team members that they will review and adhere to any messages and changes. One part of this is the responsibility of the project manager, the other is the responsibility of the team member.

It’s certainly true that many organizations are undergoing many structural changes, as well as work flow changes that involve working remotely and virtually. This certainly changes a lot of things on the communication forefront. Certainly new methods and precautions must be taken to make sure communication is open and properly flows through team members. On the flip side, project managers also need to learn to trust or improve on trusting team members as a result. Communication and trust are one of the most important elements in a relationship. Yes, even a professional relationship.

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