The convenience of the Internet and other telecommunications technologies have made it possible for employees to work on projects while away from the traditional workplace. Although the use of remote employees provides businesses with a number of benefits, it also provides management with a host of challenges. None of these challenges are insurmountable, provided that you are willing to put in some extra effort.
Here are some pointers on how to manage a long-distance project:
Planning ahead is needed to ensure the success of a project. Under normal circumstances, having team members meet up in person is the best method for planning because face-to-face contact helps build cohesion better than more impersonal means. However, that is not an option in long-distance management, which means that you should use substitutes such as teleconferencing and online meetings. Since you are the one leading the project, you are the one responsible for making the ultimate decision using information provided by your team members.
Division of Responsibilities
One of the most important parts to planning is dividing up the tasks needed to complete the project and then assigning them to the right team members for individual completion. Consulting your team members is key to pulling off this part, both to understand the tasks needed to complete the project and figure out the capabilities of individual team members. Assigning more tasks than team members can handle is a sure way to fail deadlines and risk the success of the project.
Your duties do not end once you have delegated the responsibilities to the team members and explained their roles in reaching the project’s overall goals to them. In fact, the most challenging portion of your duties begins here, because you are the one responsible for keeping your team members on track and coordinating their activities in order to meet the schedule that you’ve set. Constant monitoring is even more important while managing employees over long distances, because it is so much harder to pick up on cues and collect other relevant information.
Here are some examples of tools used to monitor team members over long distances:
* Asking team members to submit regular reports about their progress and potential issues is perhaps the best way to gauge the project’s overall movement. If you are managing a large number of people, this is the best way to sum up an excess amount of information so you can focus on what is important.
* Skype is an easy way for getting more informal contact with team members in order to ask about their progress and provide constructive feedback. Although it is not as useful as holding a meeting in real life, it is one of the best substitutes possible in long-distance management.
* Employee monitoring software such as My Team Monitor can be a useful way to check the team members’ actual activities and Internet use patterns. Be upfront when asking your team members to install the software, explain to them the reason that it is needed and how their performance is going to be judged.
Although the basics of managerial success remain the same for managing over long distances, doing so presents its own unique challenges. Overcoming those challenges depends on you making more of an effort to monitor distant team members and keep them on track.
Neil Bachand has extensive experience working with remote employee software. He enjoys researching the field and sharing his insights on various business blogs. Learn more about remote project management, visit My Team Monitor.