Managing Issues in Remote Project Management Teams

TEXT | Anas Ashfaq - Muova

In the wake of globalization and more importantly in the current post-pandemic era the nature of project management and its team has altered to much extent. Across the globe, international corporations are now operating various projects that comprise a team that are remote and geographically dispersed thereby, belonging to different nationalities, cultures, and time zones. This has led to the creation of challenges for the project managers and leaders to manage effectively such diverse and geographically distributed remote project teams leading to poor performance of such teams (Siebdrat et al., 2009; Lilian, 2014). Working in remote teams is much more complex than working in face-to-face teams (Shwartz-Asher and Ahituv, 2019) the varying cultural contexts of the team members and lack of familiarity with one another have created conflict at various levels (Caligiuri et al., 2020). However, some strategic initiatives can be taken for managing such issues in the remote project management teams that are of relevance to project leaders and managers for today and future similar settings.

Firstly a due consideration shall be given to the leadership style that needs to be creative as well must be based on excellent and open communication with the team members. The leaders rather than creating an environment of control and command must be able to lead such diverse remote teams with emotional influence. They need to focus on managing the functional and cultural issues taking into account the personality differences of the team members. At the same time, there is a need that the project leaders and managers must devise solutions to promote effective communication in different time zones and overcome all geographical barriers to affect team performance.

Next, the project managers and leaders need to tap on technological solutions available to develop more frequent face-to-face communication among the team members and the top management and the leadership (Haron et al., 2019) to foster familiarity and overcome trust issues (Hacker et al. 2019) among team members which may serve as major hurdles in reaping the desired project outcomes. Finally, the project managers and leaders need to pay attention to intercultural communications and language barriers. There is a need to invest in training of the members of the remote project teams in these two contexts (Caligiuri et al., 2020), particularly for those team members who are new to such work settings smooth accomplishment of the project goals while reducing potential distrust and ensuring team coherence and efficiency. As it was evident from a research conducted in Indian context that intercultural training is required by virtual delegates for effective remote teamwork (Holtbrügge et al., 2011). Furthermore, one of the critical components of effective multicultural project teams as evident from a research conducted with Kenya and UK’s project teams ascertained that fostering cultural collectivism, communication, empathy and trust (Ochieng, and Price, 2010), which can be applied to remote project teams as well to attain effectiveness.

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