How to manage teams remotely

With the whole world coming to a standstill due to corona, many responsible organisations have declared work from home for their employees. Unlike the challenge of managing projects across geography, this situation is unique, where each team member is working remotely from their homes and each of them would have their own challenges and distractions. If you are a project manager or a program manager, here are some tips on how you can manage your project’s remotely

1. Setup a recurring online standup meeting. This could be the same as what you used to do in office, except that people are joining remotely and your standup time may go a little longer than earlier. Initially you could have one in the morning and another at the end of day, to assess the progress. You may need the two standup, at least initially, unless your team members are used to regular WFH. Google hangout is a useful tool to collaborate

2. Have clear communications, by that I mean, have clearly defined tasks, owners with planned completion time. If a task needs more than one person to collaborate, identify an owner, who will tie-up the loose ends. You will not be able to individually track everything. List the tasks in a google sheets or any tool where people can collaborate

3. Create a virtual room like a hangout meeting, the same link that you used for standup, and let that be active throughout the day. So the hangout link becomes like the virtual room where all of you are present and any random communication is shared osmotically to everyone else. If multiple people needs to discuss on diverse topics simultaneously, they could create another link, finish the discussion and come back to this link. Just like how you physically go to a meeting room, finish the discussion and come back to your place

4. Use communication tools such as Slack, Hangout group, WhatsApp group for cross team communication. You may have two types of communication, one as information for others, the other as specific communication or action item. For the latter, ensure you tag those who need to take action

5. Share everyone’s contact numbers in a common location. Not having this will be a productivity killer. With people working from home, they are open to many distractions and when one team member pings for an info and doesn’t get a response, they should be oriented to call up and check, rather than wait indefinitely losing precious time

6. Ensure business continuity i.e. if you are in that part of the world, where you have power shut downs, invest in a UPS which can take the light load of the router, so that you are continuously connected to your VPN

7. Have a specific place at home where you would work everyday. This will help you mentally to switch on and off, just like office space and home space

8. Take planned breaks and encourage your team members to also take planned breaks. Have specific lunch break timings and end of work timing. The major problem with WFH is indiscipline, we get so much flexibility that we may take fewer breaks or more breaks and have calls planned even during late in the night. Initially it may look productive however eventually you and your team members will burn out and you would start losing productivity

These are just a few points that would help you and your teams to work more productivity considering the prolonged WFH. If you have any more suggestions, do add them in the comments for the benefit of others

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