Remote working teams don’t really work for all companies. There are several companies that tried to find remote help and found it difficult managing them. As a result, they moved to the traditional concept of hiring and keeping the employees.
I have lived on both sides, the traditional working environment, as well as the remote environment, and I believe there are pros and cons with each concept. However, my interactions with the company’s management makes me feel that they are still not happy with the idea of working from home.
They believe that working from home can reduce the productivity for the company, and add extra cost in company’s account in many ways.
So, Is the project manager work from home jobs beneficial?
After having discussed the work from home scenario with several people, I realized there is a reason why managers fail to understand or accept work from home. Here I have curated a few issues that cannot be denied.
Three Deadly Disadvantages of Working From Home for Managers
» Lack of camaraderie
When managers call in for teams to work together, they require a close knit environment, where the team works together to deliver a successful project. The reason remote teams are not together being the lack of in-person meetings. When you know the other person in-person, there is a bond between the team members, which helps them to understand how the other works, and there is a mutual understanding born out of it. The other issue is that of meetings when one of the team members works remotely. Calling them for quick meetings becomes impossible, as they suggest it to be a waste of time.
The Solution: According to me, it is important for the managers to understand that there are ways in which they can build the team camaraderie even when some members work from home. Get the people on your team together once or twice in a year, and get them to know each other. A strategic planning meeting is the best place where everyone from your team can meet, discuss, share ideas and even enjoy the rare moments they don’t usually get. During these meetings, make sure you get them to be a part of the team building exercises. At the same time, it is your duty to get people acquainted with your company, and let them know what to expect from their work, and what you have to offer them. When working online with your team members, you don’t necessarily have to run out of meeting ideas. You can always have an online meeting place, where people can discuss and share their ideas. This will help in team building the way you want it to be.
» The coordination costs
When you are on the same floor, communicating things becomes easier for both the managers and the team. However, there is a bit of coordination issue, which further leads to delays in the delivery, owing to the fact that some people work remotely from the team. A Few managers complaint that they need to spend on the coordination and communication efforts taken by the company, in order to maintain the timeline for the projects.
What kind of issues do they really face? One is maintaining situational awareness among the different team members. When you have an urgent situation, communicating it becomes difficult, as most of the team members are working remotely. Secondly, you will face situations when there is an urgency and it would be better if you could discuss with all the members at once but, somehow the people working remotely are not available at a time when you need them. These are real issues that the managers face, which results in lowered productivity and other issues.
The Solution: When you have remote workers on the team, you don’t spend on the light bills, the infrastructure or other related things for them. you are just going to spend on enabling the right ways to communicate with them. Make sure to install the right communication infrastructure such as VPN, virtual insurance etc. While you are thinking of spending on communication, you are actually saving a lot on the actual cost overheads that you will need to do if you had employees working out of your office.
There are various project management tools that run effectively if you want to get people to perform the work on time. Get all members of the team on board the project management tool. You should not have separate ways of working with the team that is co-located vs the team that is working remotely. Make sure to have virtual meetings with everyone, including the members who are located within the office. This will help you get the entire team together, and get a solution for the various issues.
» The lowered retention level
The main issue that the managers face with offering work from home is the lower retention levels of the remote employees. There is also the reliability issue with the remote workers. Managers believe that giving away an entire project to the remote worker may not get them the desired results. They may even leave the project mid way, if they get another good opportunity. You end up paying the retainer fees but, neither are you able to get the kind of work you desire, nor do they stay till the end of the project. Now that problem is genuine, and there is a genuine way to deal with it.
The Solution for Work from home concept:
When hiring the people as remote workers, make sure you are hiring the right kind of people. You need someone who have done this kind of work in the past, and know exactly what is expected of them. See their testimonials to know if the kind of work they have done has led to good word from the managers. Documentation is important when it comes to remote workers. You want every word noted down so that you can review them and see if the work was done properly or not. The quality of both the work and documentation is very important. Plagiarism is something you need to check for. One way to do it is invest in some good tools that can do both the plagiarism check and also check the value of the document being sent to you. when you want to retain the employees, you need to invest in non-monetary benefits that will make them want to stay with you. It could be both work related and non-work related benefits.
» No scope for accountability
The managers often worry as to who is accountable in case of work from home? When the manager or the team lead is unable to monitor, this becomes a difficult question to answer. From getting them to own up their work to get more productivity from these workers, the managers face difficulty at all points. In case of remote teams, chances of procrastination are very high. Why? Well, most of the standard measures for productivity lie on the standardized methods you may have devised. However, in case of remote teams, you may not be able to measure productivity using the same tools. Establishing the same kind of relationship with a remote worker is difficult as compared to the employee at your office.
The Solution: When you start expecting them to bill as per the hours they have worked, and make them show the kind of work they have delivered during the hours, you will be able to manage the team effectively. The employees working from home don’t have to do the timekeeping manually. There are various tools that you can use in the company to record their billing hours and make them accountable. Be transparent about how the other works. Make sure everyone on the team is aware of the tasks handed over to the others. This makes things easier for the remote team as well as the people working in the office. You need to give responsibilities to the people in the remote team in order to get maximum output from them.
These are just a few issues that the managers face with remote teams, which is why they don’t prefer work from home. However, if they sit down with the right solutions, they can manage teams that are working remotely as well as within the office infrastructure. You simply need to standardize a few rules, give them responsibilities and have a policy in place for the remote workers.
If you are still mulling over the idea of having remote team, and trying to understand how to make it work, connect with me via email or phone. With our team-building program, I can help you with the best of ideas and consultation that can build your remote team, and make it as productive as the team you have in your office.