Helen Marginson - Edge Communications

How greatly is COVID-19 affecting the way your teams work and communicate?

COVID-19 is not only having a devastating impact around the world but it’s affecting how teams work and communicate. With isolation rules in place worldwide, organisation’s staff, including Project Managers, are being forced into working from home – whether they are ready or not. PMOs are having to re-evaluate ways to successfully manage their remote projects and teams.

Here are a few suggestions for your Project Management Office to help teams stay successful and connected.

COVID-19 is not only having a devastating impact around the world but it’s affecting how teams work and communicate. With isolation rules in place worldwide, organisation’s staff, including Project Managers, are being forced into working from home – whether they are ready or not. PMOs are having to re-evaluate ways to successfully manage their remote projects and teams.

1) Trust your team

If you are not used to working from home or managing a team remotely, it will require transitioning yourself away from being a hands-on leader. For some project managers, this can be difficult especially for those who tend to micromanage. Remote project managers understand that they need to develop a strong sense of trust in their teams and each member’s capabilities. The key is making sure you hire highly disciplined team members who have strong communication skills, are self-motivated and are empowered to drive and perform tasks. You must also possess these skills and be able to take a step back to allow team members to do their work.

Timely and clear communication is key when working as a remote leader trying to keep up with project tasks and ensuring everything is on track.

2) Help your team to connect

Working at home is not the same as being in the office. The environment throws up new challenges, such as family members and pets being around. Instead of becoming frustrated with interruption to business, embrace the unique opportunity this unprecedented situation has given us. Enjoy getting to know more about your colleagues and see a different side to their personalities. This all helps to get to know people, understanding what makes them tick This new insight into team members, can be leveraged to help teams work better together.
Another thing to consider, working from home starts to break down the daily connections between people. Where normally colleagues would connect at the start, or during the day, in a lockdown situation, this connection is lost. Allow time at the beginning of meetings for people to catch up or share a joke, to re-establish connections. Time ‘lost’ on connecting, usually is repaid tenfold by having a team who work and connect well together, which in turn translates to a successful project and business outcomes.

Use online project-collaboration tools to stay in touch

Remote project teams must have access to the right cloud-based tools. Here are some of the things that online project management, conferencing, or work-collaboration tools can help you and your team handle, especially as to face-to-face meetings and in-person collaboration.

3) Virtual meetings:

Video conferencing tools help team members stay connected to each other, not just for projects, but also to discuss the general company-wide topics and events. Some tools that offer video conferencing, video chat, real-time and private chat, presentation streaming, and screen-sharing, include Microsoft Teams and Zoom Meetings.

4) File sharing:

Sharing files online will become a necessity, and luckily this has never been easier or more affordable. Cloud-based tools like Google’s G Suite, Box, Dropbox and OneDrive, offer your teams peace of mind with access controls, audit trails, messaging, and collaboration. Some of these tools also provide encryption, search filters, and workflow management. Your teams can share files from anywhere around the globe in seconds.

5) Project status tracking and reporting:

Many cloud-based tools give remote teams around the globe the ability to communicate, track, collaborate, report project status, share files, video chat, and do all of the regular face-to-face activities required. Many project management tools including Trello and Clarizen, also offer apps to facilitate on-the-go activities to help remote teams get their projects completed on time from anywhere and from any device.

Summary

  • Working from home can be challenging
  • Ensure you make time for your team to connect online
  • Provide project and collaboration tools to ensure teams remain productive
  • Implement Policies your team must  adhere to around document storage and cloud security

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