Remote project managers are a great alternative to being a project manager. Remote project managers are those who have people working remotely as part of their team. Remote project managers are like having blindfolds on, one arm tied behind your back, and walking backwards up the stairs. Or dairy.
It’s not that difficult. It’s not easy.
There are many pitfalls and potential mistakes.
The plot thickens when remote employees start to fall asleep while you are awake (and vice versa), and remote employees may be from different cultures. Some remote employees work with more than one manager, or in more than one business.
Do not be afraid
These are the most common mistakes. They’re all yours. They’re mine. We all have stories to tell. Here are some common mistakes that people make and how to avoid them.
1. You forgot about that…uh…what’s the name of that one guy?
“I believe he’s in South Carolina. Maybe. Or was it North Carolina Or was it Daniel or David?
Yep. That’s me. You forgot about me.
(I speak from personal experience.)
This is a simple mistake. You forgot about remote workers. You’re not in the right place at the right time.
This can easily happen when a team is large and dispersed. It’s more likely to happen if there is no clear management or communication protocol.
This is the same point made by Quickbase in an article:
Managers make mistakes when managing remote workers. They forget about them. Once you’ve gotten over the fact that the person isn’t in the office, you don’t give them much thought other than sending an email asking for information about a project. It would be rude and strange if you behaved that way with an office worker. One survey found that remote workers cited “lack of direct communications” as the greatest challenge.
Image Source: The lack of communication can lead to forgetting that someone is there. Depending on the role of remote workers, their work style and contributions, the consequences can be severe.
How can you avoid making this mistake? You can avoid this mistake by creating a communication plan and committing to communicating with each remote worker at least once per week.
2. You don’t have to ask them for their input.
Imagine a meeting. Imagine you’re at a conference table. Joe is across from you. Joe speaks to you. Joe, tell me what you think. Can you give us your suggestion?”
Joe contributes his thoughts. Joe feels part of the team. Joe feels valued, included, and collaborative.
Imagine another meeting. Imagine you’re at a conference table and your phone is in the middle.
Joe is not your friend. You don’t ask Joe for his input.
It’s weird. It’s awkward. It’s a completely different situation. It’s a different situation. You don’t have the same level or nonverbals of rapport and give-and-take as you do in person.
You also lose something valuable: Joe’s input.
Remote workers are just as important as any other team member’s input. Remote workers may be able to provide better input in some cases because they have a different perspective.
Remote workers are often left out of the company culture and vibe, which is one of the obvious disadvantages to working remotely. This “disadvantage”, however, could actually be a positive thing.
Companies cultures can encourage unhealthy groupthink. Remote workers are completely removed from this. She doesn’t hear the same chatter, read the same motivational posters, feel the same pressure, and get the same hairy eyes.
She is able to think independently and contributes in a different manner. Don’t discount the contribution of remote workers. Their distance is a benefit