Remote project teams are very common today – working remotely has been practiced for years in the IT industry though it gained a lot of popularity due to the pandemic. After a couple of years of the home office mode, one thing is for sure: both employers and employees can see the advantages of this form of work and won’t give it up easily. In the IT industry remote work has been a standard for a long time – scattered project teams including experts from many different fields, often located in different parts of the country or world, is completely normal these days. However, how to effectively manage such teams?
Increased popularity of remote work after covid restrictions, generated new challenges for people in charge of projects, assigning tasks or managing teams responsible for implementation of the project. Scattered teams mean not only working from many different places and no direct contact between team members in the office – it also means starting work at different hours, time zone related issues which can cause difficulties in communication. It means no quick, everyday team meetings face to face, or even employees never being online at the same time. Those are new challenges, for which you need suitable management methods and proven course of action. What are those methods? Check out for yourself!
Relations in the team
The highest efficiency is observed in those teams, which managed to create at least a foundation of a relation between the members. If members of your team haven’t been able to meet in person, you should organize an online meeting before the project launches. However, make sure this meeting will not include discussing the project – its purpose should be getting to know each other and creating some non-professional relationships, which will improve communication and make the future cooperation easier.
Taking over a client, whose project will be implemented in a scattered mode, you should make them aware of any limitations you may encounter. You should explain to them how the scattered team works and make it clear that despite the time differences, you share a common project goal. Point out your openness towards communication and improvements to the system and organization of work – every arrangement can be changed if it is beneficial for the project.
Establish basic work hours with your team and the client. It’s the time you’re available for your client and your employees for you. It can be two to four hours a day, when you’re all working together. That king of time window will improve communication and make organizing meetings easier. Outside of these hours the team can work asynchronously, which is especially important if the team members work in different time zones.
Scattered team structure
Organizing work by itself is not the only challenge you may encounter. Structuring of the scattered team is key here. Usually smaller teams work more effectively – so dividing your team into smaller fractions you’re potentially avoiding any drops in productivity in the future. It has its source in relying too much on other people – the bigger the team, the smaller the sense of responsibility for the whole project in individual team members. If your team consists of six people – don’t divide it into smaller ones, it will only obstruct communication. But if you organize a bigger team, consisting of at least 10 people, divide it into smaller teams. If on top of everything, your team is international, consider creating teams representing different time zones – that way you don’t have to wait several hours for the response from the team working in another country.
Go for information
Remember that the purpose of dividing your team into smaller fractions is to avoid diffusion of responsibility and not putting enough effort into the project. In case of big scattered teams divided into smaller teams, communication is crucial. Make sure that storing, processing and distributing data among the team doesn’t rely on one person and is automated as much as possible. Only that way you can provide proper level of information to all your team members, while building sense of responsibility for the final product. Use dedicated tools for remote workers and make summaries of every online meeting your team holds.
Pay attention to transparency
Create work culture based on admitting mistakes. It’s much easier to correct small errors as you go, than to deal with accumulated issues that were concealed for months. Make sure that every team member feels responsible for the project – it may help encourage honesty.
Remember, scattered projects are months – long processes, during which goals and objectives made in the beginning become diluted over time. Verify regularly if your team understands goals and character of the project the same as in the beginning and if all of the members is on the same page. Key to the success of scattered team is the same vision of the product based on its purpose and expectations it will meet.
When managing a scattered team, remember that leading it is equally difficult as working in it. So main challenge will be not only to organize work, but also building relations between the members, which will directly influence the sense of responsibility and motivation altogether.