5 tips to deliver remote projects more effectively
If you’ve anything like me, there’s a phrase you’ll probably be overfamiliar with by now.
‘The new norm’.
I’ve heard it more and more over the last few weeks, touted by the media, colleagues, and even friends and family. It’s used to refer to everything, from our social lives to how we shop.
But there’s another area of our lives where the norms have shifted – and where they will probably remain altered, even after the crisis.
And that’s how we work.
Businesses have been forced to embrace remote working. And although their adaptability has been impressive, the transition hasn’t been without its bottlenecks. So in this article, I want to talk about the common challenges businesses have faced, and best practices for overcoming them.
UNDERSTANDING THE CHALLENGE Even before the crisis, remote working had perks for both employees and employers from reduced costs of commuting to more choice for employers to hire. These benefits are now becoming more visible, but they are counterbalanced by what is lost without face-to-face collaboration.
Delivering parts of a project like reviews, workshops, status updates can all be done remotely. But all too often, faulty microphones or internet lag can make interactions less dynamic. Snappy brainstorming sessions lose their edge, and something as small as a team catch up loses that moment-to moment buzz.
As I said, part of this can be due to a poor tech setup. But there’s also an innate disadvantage to not being face-to-face. Problems like missing out on the nuances of body language, or those small verbal cues we miss over a camera.
While these may sound like minor issues, in the long run, they can add up. Over time, relationships can weaken. Enthusiasm can wane. And without a creative, stimulating atmosphere, innovation can dry up.
This has serious businesses consequences. Productivity, optimism and collaboration can be compromised, resulting in additional costs and missed opportunities.
With the lockdown still very much in effect – and with more regular remote working being on the cards for many businesses post-lockdown – these are issues that need to be dealt with today.
RETHINKING REMOTE Broadly speaking, these challenges are caused by five root issues, spanning everything from technology to communication.
I’ve listed these root issues below, along with tips on how businesses can overcome them and rethink how teams operate remotely.
1.TECHNOLOGY Remote working won’t succeed without the right tools in place. Ideally, businesses should scrutinise their tech stacks – everything from conferencing software to VPNs – before codifying technical guides and setups rehearsals to ensure everyone can connect online.
ETIQUETTE Defining the rules of engagement can help meetings run more smoothly. How long should meetings last? Does everyone need to be present? How do you roll out an agenda? These rules should be set out in a document and sent to all team members.
DIRECTION Don’t lose momentum. Businesses need to keep all project members in the loop, sharing relevant information and up-to-date briefs. More than anything, project leads must ensure that objectives are being met.
COMMUNICATION Projects and meetings must have regular checkpoints where team members can exchange feedback, brainstorm new ideas, and have the opportunity to have their voices heard. Also, businesses should schedule some dedicated team catch-up time to socialising and blowing off steam.
VISUALISATION Meeting updates must be easily captured and viewed. A great way to do this is to use pre-made templates where notes and feedback can be collated then distributed – keeping all team members up to date.
GOING THE EXTRA MILE These tips can help to lay out a broad framework for remote projects. But when it comes to individual meetings, it’s always good to go that extra mile.
It can be nerve-wracking joining a call with a group of people you don’t know. So if you can, try having prior one-to-one calls to establish a relationship. During a call or workshop try to look directly into the camera at least when talking and ensure good lighting. Create starter questions to avoid any awkward silent moments and use multiple screen views or two monitors where feasible to facilitate both chat and taking notes.
Finally, be quick to send round the meeting recording and captured actions in order to maintain momentum.
The new norm for now is remote working – and these tips will go a long way to ensuring businesses can stay afloat during the crisis. But even in a post-COVID world, businesses would do well to remember these best-practices and use them to bolster their remote-working productivity.
David Illinesi,Manager Consulting at Acxiom
This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Acxiom .