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Overcoming the Challenges of Managing Remote Teams During Extreme Situations

Written by 
Mateo Angulo
,
Project Manager
Overcoming the Challenges of Managing Remote Teams During Extreme Situations
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Table of contents

This blog post explores some of the challenges that project managers may have encountered during the Covid-19 pandemic, as companies around the world have redefined the way of working and adopted new customs that keep the economy in motion.

We’ll explore solutions to the challenges of leading remote teams and projects in a 100% virtual model.

How to manage time and deliverables with effective communication

Working 100% remotely from home, it can be difficult to differentiate work time from family time. The ideal in these cases is transparent communication between the collaborators and the PM in order to define time and deliverables.

Using meetings to clarify the specific objective of the tasks included in the sprint is helpful, so you can verbally confirm with each team member to achieve a successful team result. 

Effective communication also includes the practice of negotiation, so your teammates are more committed to the goals of the sprint.

How to prevent every question from becoming a meeting

With 100% remote teams, it is very easy to fall into the creation of multiple meetings for all the situations that arise. While this is inevitable, we can control the time we invest in each of those meetings, so that one question does not become a one-hour meeting with the whole team. 

Before starting a call, clarify to the team the objective of the meeting and the maximum time for that meeting. 

According to Fast Company, you should ask these 9 questions before every meeting to avoid wasting time instead of scheduling a meeting for everything.

How to work with international teams

When managing international teams as a PM, it is always important to take into account where each team member is located. Communicate frequently, be transparent and make sure the message is clear for all team members.

Here are some additional tips from Ceridian’s 7 Ways to Successfully Manage International Teams

  • Acknowledge cultural differences and make them open for discussion
  • Ensure all members of the team have appropriate opportunities to participate
  • Define core team values and establish trust
  • Promote and support diversity initiatives

How to measure results 

As project managers, we ideally want to access more information without having to use a lot of applications to measure results. Or, if we’re using tools that complement each other, we need a single source of information with the option to see more data if required.

Here’s a summary of how Matt Badgley at Agile Alliance uses data and tools, as featured in Top 10 Tips for Measuring Agile Success:

  • On-time delivery: we are using the time defined to work on a goal proposed, and also that we are getting that goal within the time. The Burndown or Burnup charts could help you to measure if the team is finishing the work into the time of the sprint or not.
  • Product Quality: while it can be hard to define the quality, you can measure the results of the work based on product quality by measuring the number of bugs reported from prod and the functionality issues reported by the client. 
  • Velocity Chart: Another option to measure the quality is to use the velocity chart which presents the work commitment VS the work completed.

How to measure employee satisfaction

Measuring employee satisfaction became even more complicated during pandemics when employees are affected in so many different ways. It is important to be in constant communication and validation of the satisfaction of each team member. 

According to Chad Halvorson of the When I Work Blog, employees who are satisfied tend to be:

  • Happier and more motivated to work
  • More productive
  • Absent fewer days
  • Better able to collaborate

A good tip to measure the satisfaction of your team is doing One-on-One conversations and use that conversation to identify how the team member is feeling about the company, the project, their personal goals, their professional goals, etc. 

This is the time to listen to your team and take action on what they are sharing. For these, we can use video calls but keep in mind to always take into account the objective and the time limit (as covered above).

Summary

Even beyond the pandemic, 100% remote work is here to stay for many companies. As a PM, you can take into account what was described here to help you be successful with your teams.

  • Transparent communication and clear objectives for each sprint are the keys to being able to achieve success in managing remote work teams.
  • Complement team management with simple technology tools 
  • Frequently validate employee satisfaction
  • Support collaborators across different cultures and time zones
Mateo Angulo
Written by
Mateo Angulo
Mateo Angulo

I became a software developer because I relish the opportunity to solve problems and build great things. I've built apps that help airlines track their sales and employers keep track of whether their workers are sick with Covid. I most enjoy working with JavaScript because of its versaility and its ability to be used on both the front and back end. I'm honest, friendly, and committed, and I enjoy playing music as a percussionist.

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