Lessons learnt from working remotely

Conducting projects in 2020 was a real challenge in 2020 and is set to continue in 2021. Delivering projects from the confines of the home environment provided new ways to ensure project success, many myths of remote working have been debunked during the pandemic. One involved productivity, it was proven that people have been more productive while working remotely that when working within the office environment.

Remote workers are not less reliable or less productive than their onsite colleagues. In fact, statistics have shown time and again that remote workers are more productive, work longer hours, and are less likely to take time off than onsite employees.

Because remote workers can’t be physically monitored in the same way onsite employees can, they can help assuage fears about reliability by over-communicating with their teammates and manager. This all boils down to how a team works, but if it is determined that co-workers are looking for assistance after hours, it can help to set regular office hours, or provide hours of availability. Setting status on platforms like Slack can help with this, exchanging phone numbers for emergencies can allow to work more flexibly, while maintaining availability to the team. Once a system has been worked out, it’s important to be consistent with it.

Remote work does not stagnate career growth, the salary breakdown of remote workers surveyed was 74% earning less than $100k per year, and 26% earning more, compared with 92% of on-site workers earning less than $100k and 8% earning more. In addition, there are 18% more executives working remotely than there are working on-site now. The possibilities of promotion in the remote realm are evident in the statistics.

Communication is key for anyone moving to remote work. This shows itself in many ways, only because people are not onsite to casually overhear and offer support, then being proactive helps. By reaching out regularly to offer a helping hand to teammates lets them know how reliable a partner you are to them. You’ll also need to be very direct and proactive with managers. By letting them know what your career goals are, and helping to set milestones to reach those goals, you’ll ensure that you’re taking all the right steps to reach your potential, no matter where you work from.

For some people, when they picture their remote co-workers, they envision laptops on the beach, conference calls from cabins on cliff tops, and jet-setting teammates hopping from foreign coffee shop to foreign coffee shop. However, the reality is many employees prefer to perform their remote work from home.

For those with a spare bedroom or space in their home, setting up a remote office can help ease the distractions that come from working onsite with co-workers. Walk-ups for questions or coffee breaks disappear when you can close a door and be totally alone within a dedicated workspace. Reliable internet, an ergonomically sound chair, and a good sound desk that is a pleasure to use.  By spending more time working from home, remote workers can enjoy savings on work travel, daily office expenses like lunching out at a restaurant, and coffees for those who set up shop at cafes.

While it certainly is true that working remotely can cause some loneliness — 19% of remote employees report this as their biggest challenge — it is by no means an insurmountable or inevitable pitfall of the remote lifestyle. Remote workers attend more meetings weekly than their onsite counterparts, and report higher job satisfaction.

It’s important to host virtual team building activities and celebratory meetings to keep remote teammates included. Particularly when using a hybrid team to deliver a project, with both remote and onsite co-workers. Ensure regardless of where the meeting is being conducted, that people are not talking over the top of each other.

Without the option for offsite team lunches, motivational posters around an office, or special coordinated days, it is still possible to build a team culture. Company culture can act as a guiding light for employees when they’re stuck on a project and unsure of their next move. If it is identified what is wanted to be at the heart of the culture, whether that’s customer, creativity, collaboration, or anything in between, create a shared baseline from which employees can make decisions.

There are several ways to go about building company culture for remote work, but if the core values are implemented, that are shared company-wide, it is a good start.  From on-boarding new employees to coaching tenured ones, bake culture into everything that is done, and it’ll become second nature to the team.

As you beef up your remote presence or look to finally dip a toe in the remote-working pool, don’t assume any possible pitfalls are inevitable. Plan communicate clearly and consistently, utilize technology (like collaboration software) to help teams stay connected, and successfully deliver projects. Let us know your thoughts on delivering projects successfully remotely, we would like to hear from you. All the very best on your project management journey.

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