Tips from a PM: communication with a team, work planning and organization

Apr 21, 2020

The global quarantine has made most companies either stop the work processes and put employees on leave or urgently organize remote work. Those who could have chosen the second option. However, not everyone took changes in the work format seriously enough. As a consequence, the following “results” were obtained: low performance, demotivation of employees, and their distancing from the goals and values of the company.

Although the remote work seems simple, organizing it is a task that requires a professional approach. Just creating Jira or Trello accounts for all employees, agreeing to keep in touch via Skype, and sending everyone home are not enough. One needs to know how to use these tools and establish processes properly and effectively. It is much more profitable to seek expert advice from those who already have many years of experience in this field, rather than do it by trial and error on your own.

Our PMs and Delivery Managers have identified several key aspects one needs to pay attention to when organizing remote work. However, each company would require a separate system, built based on these key aspects but taking into account the specifics of the project and the team.

Communication in the team and with a customer

Not all team members can switch to work from home easily. In order to keep in touch with the entire team, as well as with each specialist personally, we recommend the following:

1. Hold daily meetings with turned-on web cameras. This motivates employees to be more focused and partly compensates for the absence of face-to-face meetings. They feel that everything is under control and work is going on as usual, despite the changed situation.

2. Call each team member to discuss current issues every day. By doing so, It will be easier to notice problems with motivation and organization, and the employee will share the rest difficulties themselves.

3. If possible, involve a customer in team building. Communication between the customer and each team member once a month increases the client’s trust and the involvement of each employee in the process, creates an atmosphere of unity, and brings everyone closer to common goals.

Remote work planning and organization

It is not only IT companies that are switching to remote work: this format is also convenient for design and architectural studios, consulting agencies, etc. The toolkit is selected depending on the type of projects and tasks: for the IT sphere, Jira is a must, while a design studio can successfully get along with Trello. However, a number of organizational issues would be relevant for most companies and teams:

1. Time limits for meetings and clear agendas.

2. Application of the Agile methodologies with sprint backlog planning, task optimization, and evaluation of the team capability in story points. This helps to control performance.

3. Quick identification of blockers and immediate informing of stakeholders about them. One hour for an independent search for a solution, then asking the team for help.

4. As much openness for the customer as possible, access to the main development board.

Information security and data transfer

In order to organize a basic level of data transfer security, it is necessary to implement a set of urgent measures:

1. Organization of your own subnetwork with data storage on internal servers.

2. Remote access to company resources via VPN and with two-factor authentication.

3. Restricted access to certain websites from employees’ computers.

4. Use of containerization principles in development.

Having 12 development centers in 3 countries and sending our employees on business trips around the world, we learned how to establish remote work processes quickly. We are ready to share our 13-years’ experience with everyone who is forced to organize remote work for their team or company urgently.

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