Remotely Manage Projects

Joe Pusz invited me to join him for Project Management Office Hours. We discussed how to lead projects remotely. These skills will continue to be useful as more companies allow employees to work remotely after a pandemic.
Here are some of the key takeaways
Joe: How has COVID-19 changed the way project managers work these days?
Elizabeth: I believe it’s sector dependent. I know of a lot project managers who are extremely busy because they have to pick up the slack when colleagues are sick, quarantining, or self-isolating. All projects are subject to new projects that we need to respond to. They’ve been either extremely busy or made redundant. They are now looking for work in the same way as others in all types of jobs.
I believe the impact on project managers and their work has been significant. However, in terms of the work that we do, I haven’t noticed much of a difference. I mean, I have worked with virtual teams for 13 years, but I haven’t been completely based at home every time. I have done some work at home. Because of the nature and work of project managers, I believe we can do a lot remotely.
So I believe we are doing the same thing. We’re just doing it doing using different tools. There will be long-term consequences for things that require teams to come together, as you mentioned. We’ll have to think about things like safety and health of construction site teams and other issues for many years. But how can we safely deliver these projects? We’ve also seen a significant increase in the use of tools. People are using tools similar to what we use today to connect across oceans. Instead, you are connecting with someone who lives two blocks away and who is also working from home.
Joe: What can you share with those listening who are struggling right now?
Elizabeth: There are practical things. I think I can suggest that getting comfortable with the camera would be one.
It’s still amazing to me to see people. I was actually mentoring someone who said she was having trouble switching on her camera and wouldn’t even speak. I was baffled by this because I can’t speak on the phone with someone, so how is it different to talk to someone via your computer? However, I believe there are still people who are technologically shy or not confident using the tools we have.
If you feel the virtual world is not right for you, you might spend some time getting to grips with the technology and practicing with your colleagues. It’s okay to say that I have used a webinar platform. It was a great tool that I used for a long time, and I had a license that allowed me to use it. Zoom was not something I wanted to pay for, as I had an adequate tool. And I lost my connection, and couldn’t figure out the controls. It just felt strange.
This is not an advertisement for Zoom. It was worth the money last month, and it has made a huge difference in my life. Because I feel in control of the technology. It is not me driving the technology, it is the tools driving me. I can run my sessions as I want without worrying about it. It’s easy to get comfortable with the technology.
It is also harder to switch off at night. I commuted to London for around an hour on the train, and my entire journey took me about an hour. That was a lot of time to wind down, finish those emails I had forgotten to send and to relax after a long day.

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