The advantages and disadvantage of working remotely are well documented.  Some people love to work remotely, and some people really do not like it at all.  But in the current climate it’s a pointless debate – everyone has to do it.  So how can we overcome the challenges when it comes to building a virtual project team when thrust into this unplanned remote working environment?

Solutions to these challenges include:

  • Communication – Project Managers should lead by example by providing regular updates to the team and holding one-to-one meetings using technology that supports video conferencing. Project team members are more likely to follow the good example set by their Project Manager.

 

  • Trust – Trust may already exist in an unplanned virtual project team as the project team will have already had time to work together face-to-face.  But distance can cause trust to diminish fast, so it is imperative that Project Managers take the necessary steps to maintain trust among the team. Holding daily virtual team meetings where each project team member have an opportunity to provide an update to their team on their progress can help maintain trust.  Project Managers should look for opportunities to showcase project team member’s work and give public feedback on a job well done.

 

  • Using an on-line team task tracker where all team members can record their progress and review their colleague’s progress.  This keeps progress visible and keeps people motivated.

 

  • Combat isolation – nurture a strong one-to-one relationship between the Project Manager and project team member, with frequent short video conference calls.  These can help reduce feelings of isolation. Giving project team members tasks to work on together can also foster a feeling of being part of a project team.

 

  • Training is a great way to bring project teams together and maintain team spirit while they work apart. Aspira offer a range of 2-hour online instructor led industry certified training courses which provide a welcome variety to people working from home. https://aspira.ie/project-management-courses/

 

Adapting to an unplanned switch from a co-located project team to a virtual project team will require effort in order for the team to adapt. Technology, such as Microsoft Teams, facilitate a smoother and quicker transition, but Project Managers will need to be patient with their teams and themselves.  Show kindness to your colleagues and help each other stay on track.

Author:  Gillian Whelan, Senior Consultant, Aspira

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