As a digital marketing company, Cobble Hill’s work is predominantly done online. While we love seeing each other’s smiling faces in the office, we typically take a month each summer to work remotely and were fortunate enough to have had effective processes already in place when the quarantine began. Needless to say, our team was ready for this!
From a project management standpoint, however, working remotely can be somewhat daunting. It’s your responsibility to keep the communication flowing, projects on track, and your team’s spirits up. You might feel like you are hitting roadblocks when you aren’t with your team to check-in, monitor, and help on a day to day basis. Here are a few tips that we have found helpful to keep our projects on track and our team (and clients) happy:
- Schedule Frequent Video Calls: Even though you can’t physically see your team, schedule meetings using video calls. This is a great way to see your coworkers and check up on daily tasks. The Cobble Hill team has found great success with having a standing daily video check-in via Google Hangouts. This is also a great way to share non-work tips with your team to keep the quarantine blues at bay with new activities and ideas.
- Over-Communicate: This is important on so many levels. Take advantage of the resources available since you can’t pop over to someone’s desk. At Cobble Hill, we use Slack and Basecamp for the majority of our work. Slack is a great place for quick answers to avoid the Basecamp “hot potato.” Have a question on an assignment? Slack your team member or hop on a call/video call to discuss. When assigning tasks, take a few extra minutes to ensure the details are included and clear for your team to get started. Also, remember that things (and tones!) can get lost in translation. If you are feeling frustrated or confused by something, talk it out.
- Keep Deadlines: It can be easy to get distracted at home (kids, pets, laundry, the home improvement project you started over the weekend). As a project manager, it’s your job to remind your team members of deadlines. Take a few minutes in the morning to outline your team’s priority list for the day, help adjust their tasks as needed to ensure projects stay on track and your team is not feeling overwhelmed.
- Time Block: Having a consistent schedule might be tough right now, so encourage team members to make the calendar their best friend. Time blocking is an excellent practice for when you need to put your head down and focus on a task that’s going to take you longer than most, so be sure you’re blocking off chunks of time on the calendar as well.
- Take Breaks: Do you usually take a coffee or lunch break and physically step away from your computer at work? Why should working from home be any different? You need to decompress and take a deep breath (or 5) throughout the day. Block off a couple of short breaks or an hour-long break and close your computer. Take a walk outside, sit in a different part of your house and read a book, do a puzzle, workout; anything that gives you a sense of relief come back to your computer refreshed and ready to go.
- Be Patient: This is a trying time for us all, don’t be too hard on yourself or your team! Take things day to day and continue to adjust and work on your processes as needed. And remember “This too shall pass.”