Association for Project Management
Engaging remote project teams during the coronavirus
Blog posted by: Natasha Brown, 25 March 2020.
With the normalisation of virtual meeting platforms and working from home during this difficult period of the novel coronavirus pandemic, it is essential to enable remote working and project team collaboration. If working from home and remotely is new to you, then have no fear. The presence of virtual project teams has a prominent place in the modern day project roadmap for any forward-thinking team and organisation.
While these tools are fantastic at bringing teams together and opening up much needed team dialogue, participating in sessions can be socially challenging. If you have ever been on a call with an offshore team and spent the first few minutes in awkward silence while looking at the array of smiling but worried faces, you are not alone.
Over the years I've participated in a variety of virtual teams - all with their own unique ground rules and delivery styles. Whether it’s a team that mandated the use of video, or a team which started each call with the same round robin introduction each week, the awkward feeling remained. This awkwardness at the start of each virtual meeting is difficult to shift especially when the focus is heavily task orientated, and the social nuances and cues are missing. Here are my top three tips to guarantee success during your virtual project team meetings:
1. Schedule a virtual icebreaker
Investing time at the start of a project sets a crucial foundation for success. Ideally, team members will be physically in person at a mutually convenient location, when this is not possible, the alternative is a virtual icebreaker followed by a kick off. I’d recommend splitting the icebreaker so there is focus on building emotional intelligence within the team. This helps in team rapport and understanding of the different personalities that make up the team. This is key. The team should be considered as unique pieces of a puzzle – each on their own cannot complete the wider project, but together they bring strength through unity and alignment. This may not be necessary in every virtual meeting when members are comfortable with each other, but light introductions are a great way to keep remote teams engaged.
2. Remain flexible
Flexibility is paramount for a healthy and happy team. In the same way that project teams who are in front of each other need informal chats and exploratory sessions to bounce ideas, so do remote teams. The general thinking and practice includes engaging with remote teams for formal meetings or stand-up sessions which have agreed agendas – but what if we thought about things in a less structured and more proactive way? Initiate quick discussions or idea sharing opportunities via informal video calls. The opportunities for this style of working are endless. Flexible agendas in virtual meetings will help remote teams feel at ease; not everything has to be formal all the time.
3. Embed sustainable engagement
A great way to ensure that your team maintains momentum and motivation throughout the project is through the introduction of casual virtual sessions where the team simply engage. This is different from a meeting, but a place, such as a group chat or conference calls where you can build positive relationships with team members by creating a fun forum to get to know each other. Sharing aspects of your character, your likes, dislikes and simply what makes you tick, provide great opportunities to get to know team members on a deeper level.
Remote working has been a trend for a long time with many team members across cities and continents. If it’s new to you it can be daunting. But with these simple tips you can maintain an engaged team which aids communication for your project and helps you feel like people are around to support you when the need arises.
You may also be interested in
- Covid-19 and managing the transition to virtual working
- How to use video to engage overseas teams
- Succeeding with dispersed teams in APM Learning
About the Author
Natasha has a passion for delivering successful projects and prides herself on executing quality coupled with integrity to build successful stakeholder relationships. Natasha is a Full Member of the APM and also a qualified Change Management Practitioner with global project and programme manager experience spanning multiple business sectors.
In addition to her corporate project management consultancy work, Natasha provides project management career guidance and training via her website careerprestige.com In her spare time Natasha runs a not for profit organisation which partners with secondary schools to promote project management as a future career to students in year 11.
Latest News from
Association for Project Management
Why benefits managers and change managers are the perfect partners13/08/2020 16:43:00
Blog posted by: Hugo Minney 12 August 2020.
Next steps after school: employability should be top priority13/08/2020 10:20:00
It’s been a year like no other, but despite challenges such as social distancing, transitioning to online learning and the cancellation of exams, thousands of young people have had their hard work recognised and received their A-level and other course results.
How to audit for success webinar12/08/2020 14:38:00
This webinar was held on Tuesday 11 August 2020. Sarah Short outlined how the insights provided from a project audit can help project management professionals set their project up for success.
Emerging from crisis management mode and looking to the future12/08/2020 10:20:00
Blog posted by: Mike Hine 11 August 2020.
The PM as influencer: how the project manager role is changing11/08/2020 10:20:00
Blog posted by: Mark Rowland 10th August 2020.
Project management in charity sector – more than just economic value10/08/2020 16:20:00
Blog posted by: Lauren Strain, 07 August 2020.
Q & A with new APM Honorary Fellow Professor Andrew Davies10/08/2020 10:20:00
Association for Project Management (APM), has awarded Honorary Fellowship to professor Andrew Davies, RM Phillips Freeman Chair and professor of innovation management in the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), University of Sussex Business School.
Fears, desires and threats in changing situations webinar07/08/2020 13:20:00
Applied Influence Group learnt what they know about influence on high stakes military intelligence operations. During that time they codified an approach to influence which they have been taking to a wide variety of clients for the last four years.