The Opportunities and Challenges of Project Management in Virtual Workplaces
Why Project Managers Might Find Managing Remote Teams Challenging
As workplaces became virtual and employees started working from home due to the Covid 19 Pandemic, organizations found that there are many challenges in managing such virtual workforces.
For instance, Project Management is challenging when managers cannot meet employees face to face and instead, have to interact with them in person.
Often, as all members of a team sit in close proximity in physical offices, it is easier for project managers to call out to their team members whenever they need some work done or are asking for clarifications and status updates.
When employees work from home, the project managers would have to login to a Zoom call or any other such virtual meeting apps to contact their team members for anything and everything, however small that issue might be.
This is not only a productivity killer, but also a cumbersome way of managing teams. Moreover, all team members and project managers have to be continuously online to interact with each other as well as provide status updates to each other.
This is another challenge that virtual workplaces impose on project managers and hence, something that needs utmost attention.
How There are Many Opportunities for Project Managers in Virtual Workforces
On the other hand, there are some advantages of employees working from home as recent research has shown that productivity levels raise and employees are more connected to their work.
Indeed, many women team members often report a rise in productivity when working from home, contrary to the stereotypes, as they can then attend to both home and work chores at the same time and balance their personal and professional commitments.
In other words, for those employees who have dependents or kids to take care of, work from home provides the opportunity to attend to them as well as create time for professional commitments.
While this seems paradoxical and counterintuitive, it is a fact that when employees work from home, they work for longer hours as commute times are eliminated and at the same time, they do not have to worry about their families and their problems unlike when working from physical offices where they keep calling and getting calls from their loved ones.
Therefore, there are some opportunities for organizations when employees work from home and it is up to the project managers to make good use of them.
Indeed, with WFH becoming the norm now, there are some advantages.
Managing the Downsides and Leveraging the Upsides of Work from Home Models
Of course, a key aspect when employees work from home is that team meetings become somewhat of a challenge since making all team members attend at the meeting at a mutually agreeable time is difficult sometimes.
Team members not only have to be present at the specified time, but should also be focused on the task at hand without interruptions and distractions.
Indeed, there is every chance that they are bothered by household disturbances such as the door bell ringing in the midst of a team meeting or their family members seeking their attention.
Moreover, there is every chance that there are connectivity issues wherein they lose the internet link or be bothered by a power cut in their homes.
Therefore, this is another challenge for project managers when workplaces become virtual.
On the other hand, conference calls with overseas clients are easier as employees do not need to stay back at work for attending late night calls and time zone differences do not really matter as employees are online throughout the day and into the late evenings and nights.
This is the so-called Seamless Virtual World that was being dreamed about by Tech Visionaries such as Bill Gates.
How Apps can be used to Transition from Physical to Virtual Project Management
Indeed, it is our view that the Pandemic has accelerated the transition to the Digital Age and given the awesome power of technology at our fingertips, it is up to our Business Leaders to make full use of it.
For instance, project managers who now have Digital Dashboards at their disposal can monitor team activities and tasks that much more easily.
In addition, delegating work is easier as they can simply assign selected tasks in the portals without much time being wasted on explaining how the task is done.
Apart from this, seamless connectivity means a borderless world and hence, virtual workplaces can be dispersed and remote operating from anywhere and everywhere.
In our recent experiences, we have found that Zoom and Google Meets are very conducive to transacting business and interacting online and apps such as Slack make team coordination and project management as well as people management easier.
Of course, there are some challenges in terms of how teams still need to meet face to face from time to time and this can be handled by making employees who live nearby to each other congregate at a common place and link all such meeting points into a virtual meet-up.
Why the Dream of Tech Visionaries of a Digital Age is within Our Reach Now
Last, there are both opportunities and challenges when employees work from home and when workplaces become virtual.
It is really up to the project managers to make good use of the opportunities and manage the challenges.
The upsides are many as are some downsides and considering that we have been talking about the Digital Age for a few years now; perhaps it is time to make such visions a reality.
To conclude, project managers do have to adapt and adjust to the changed circumstances and their agility and flexibility are what matter in the emerging virtual paradigm in these times.
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Authorship/Referencing - About the Author(s)
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