Remote Teamwork: Getting project management right and avoiding the pitfalls

Online, cloud-based platforms like Glasscubes really are changing how teams work together. By providing a slick virtual office space for organisations and groups to interact, exchange ideas, peer review and develop and close projects, businesses are seeing all kinds of benefits.

Able to pool their talent from far afield, companies have fewer overheads and can operate with greater flexibility, while leaders can track project progress, document manage with ease, and improve targets and stick to them. Yet with every development comes a new set of challenges.

Problem solving

A particular area of difficulty is how a remote team – who may not have worked together before – manage idea sharing and critical thinking. With all the communications infrastructure in the world, people still need the confidence to create, edit and produce.

But remote teams will often be new to each other, set up for the purposes of a single project. Even an experienced group of team members working in the same office space, around the same table, may have difficulty achieving the kind of chemistry that effective problem solving requires, let alone one that has never looked each other in the eyes, and that could be working in different time zones.

Nevertheless, with two essential principles, remote teams should expect to negotiate their issues of trust, sharing and openness.

  1. Empower and set free

By setting out as early as possible where responsibilities lie, people have to take ownership of their roles and those roles’ objectives. This not only avoids the inevitable crossover and duplication of efforts that occurs when a team is desperately trying to complete, but also the confusion of a project’s early phases, when individuals often scramble to get their ideas to the table, to the detriment of the group’s fundamental goals.

With clearly outlined roles and expectations, those individuals then have to be allowed to perform their tasks according to their own judgement. The placement of faith occurs at two points: faith in the team’s assembly, then faith in the team members’ ability to perform. This ability to trust other team members is crucial to efficiency and innovation.

  1. Approach and interact

With the first principle in place, it remains critical that people continue to communicate their progress throughout the project’s lifecycle. A fantastic platform for collaboration will help teams share knowledge and concepts, as well as inform as to how the various tasks take shape.

Effective communication at all levels, between all members of a team, avoids conflict, keeps the team focused and aligned, and ensures that people continue to understand their role as it develops, grows and shifts until the project’s end.

A carefully grouped remote team, using the right kind of collaboration software, has all kinds of advantages stacked in its favour. So although working with voices and text rather than faces and body language can be disorientating for a team attempting to resolve challenging issues, once the nature of those difficulties has been addressed, that team is in a fantastic position to achieve its goals.

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