September 16, 2020

Remote Project Management Tips

By now, it’s clear that remote hiring and project management in the Affordable Housing sector will be the name of the game for the foreseeable future. Depending on your personal preferences, there are many plus sides to remote work, including location flexibility, accommodating different styles of work, and much more. However, remote project management brings many challenges to the table as well.  In this article, we’ll be discussing 3 challenges of remote project management and action items PMs can take to make a difference. We interviewed a few PMs in the affordable housing sector to give us some insight into what’s working, and what’s not. 
  1. Get to know your team as people first
Without the built-in person-to-person connection of the office, getting to know the people you manage requires a little more effort while working remotely. While it may seem like taking a time out to get to know your team, vendors, or contractors as a person first is “unproductive,” it will benefit you in the long run. Taking the time to acknowledge your teams’ style of work, capabilities, and how they would like to be managed will only boost productivity in the future, and make them feel appreciated. After all, studies show that when people feel appreciated for their work, they are more loyal to the company itself.  Action item: If you’re in charge of onboarding, set up a virtual one-on-one to get to know your newest team member. Additionally, creating a Slack channel so that the people you manage can easily get in contact with you, or, holding weekly office hours via Zoom will streamline communication. 
  1. Make sure the project is understood as a whole 
Have you covered specific action items for your team to take, but don’t commonly discuss how they’ll fit into the bigger picture? We interviewed successful PMs in the affordable housing sector who didn’t think this was the best way to manage a team. Even if it might take an extra phone call, making sure that your team understands the project from highest level objectives to their small part in the process will overall, make them as effective as possible.  While discussing the project in question, it’s important to make sure that the following three perspectives are understood: 
  • Bigger picture: this includes how the project you’re working on will benefit your company in the long run. 
  • High-level objectives: higher level objectives include how your team’s role in the project fits in with everyone else’s role
  • Day-to-day: Your team’s role in the process 
Action item: When presenting projects to your team, make sure to include the bigger picture and higher level objectives in addition to each team member’s role in the process. Making a Loom video to reduce the length of emails can be an effective way to communicate large amounts of information, and might be easier for you! 
  1. Project Management Systems are your friend 
Without a structured office setting, keeping your to-do list close at hand or being in communication with your co-workers can be a challenge. Project management systems including Asana and Trello can be a quick fix to this problem. These systems are built to keep you organized while remote, and can also solve other problems like establishing communication from the start and creating clear objectives.   For companies that aren’t interested in project management systems, “old-fashioned” methods such as spreadsheets can work just as well. However, a few of the PM’s working remotely in the Affordable Housing sector that we interviewed said that without project management systems, “stuff starts to fall through the cracks.”  Action item: If working remotely has caused a lapse in communication within your company, utilizing project management systems is a great start to fixing the problem. One Project Manager that we interviewed said that Microsoft Teams has completely changed the game for her company, as the “chat” function allowed co-workers to quickly ask each other questions. For the PM in question, the chat function mimicked conversations that she and her co-workers would have at the water cooler.  Additionally, one of our Project Manager interviewees suggested that video has been an important asset when it’s come to managing construction sites. Tools as accessible as FaceTime to as complex as our Virtual Walkthrough Technology have made it easy to communicate with on-site staff members and bidders alike.  Our team at Essel hopes our tips for Project Managers working remotely could provide some insight into what’s working for remote teams across the country, and what isn’t. If you have additional tips, reach out to us at 1-800-595-7616 to let us know!     Download Guide to Affordable Housing Project Manager Costly Mistakes to Avoid
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