How to Manage Remote Project Teams - Tip #2

Introduction: In the current times of globalisation and international competition, project work at many international companies is often carried out by virtual project teams which are distributed across multiple locations, countries, and time zones. Due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis the trend of remote project work was boosted even further, as companies in various industry sectors, such as in the IT industry, had to adapt and enable their project teams to work remotely in order to keep their businesses alive. The following series provides some concrete and practical advice based on experience gained from the daily project management work. 

Recommendation #2 - Use video: The use of video conferencing for project communications may sound like a trivial thing, but it can have a big positive impact compared to other forms of communication, such as audio conferencing, phone calls, or the simple use of email. It is commonly accepted that the most efficient and effective method of communication is a face-to-face interaction. However, because of the fact that the virtual project team members are not co-located, the next best thing to a personal meeting are face-to-face interactions via video. The use of video conferencing in project meetings results in communication of higher quality and with higher information content. It enables the project manager to see and read everybody’s body language, which tells much more about the team members’ real needs and feelings than the purely verbal communication does. Meeting the project team face-to-face via video also helps the project manager to transfer his messages more effectively to the team and vice versa, increases everybody’s focus, and makes the commitments to fulfil project tasks more binding. It creates a more disciplined project culture in which the team members are less likely to be distracted and start doing other things during the meetings. Overall, the interactions within the project team feel more personal, which should also strengthen the team spirit. In addition, the improved communication via video in a way supports the project manager’s “gut feeling” by helping her to better anticipate things, such as looming risks or issues, which may have remained unnoticed when using different means of communication. Finally, a video conference is also an excellent way for the project manager to meet the project steering committee or management board in order to report project progress and to ask for support and decisions. 

Author: Paraschos Pentas, Date: 27 March 2021