Covid-19 pandemic and its aftermath, has bought new terms into people’s regular lives. Some of them are; ‘social distancing’, ‘unprecedented’, ‘essential’, ‘toilet paper shortage’ and ‘remote working’.
Here, in this Ossisto blog, the limelight falls on ‘remote working’ and its relative terms. Well, predominantly -‘Virtual Project Managers’.
Who are Virtual Project Managers?
VPM is the abbreviation of Virtual Project Management, denoting the emerging trend of supervising virtual project teams. It’s the businesses’ way of keeping projects alive during the situations when the traditional in-house team model is not possible.
|An individual who manages a virtual or remote team with the help of various modern tools for connectivity, communication and project governance is known as a ‘Virtual Project Manager. ‘|
A Virtual Project Manager plays a cardinal role in organizations that has a diaspora of virtual teams in varied time zones. These professionals keep the projects afloat in a virtual environment.
A Sneak Peak of the Current Workforce Situation:
30 million employees work from home in the United States at least once a week and by 2022, 60% of the in-house employees will prefer to work remotely. (Source: FinancesOnline)
Nicholas Bloom, a Stanford economist has even coined a new term for the shifting dynamics of the workforce in the American economy.
The word is ‘Working-from-home-economy’. His research work on the same dates back to 2014 and in 2020, policymakers are seeing great value in his research findings.
An astounding 42% of the American population chose to work from home full time in 2020. And in the near future ‘Work from Home’ will be a common feature of the American labor landscape.
In a post COVID era; there will be a 20% increase of people working remotely, as per the Nicholas Bloom studies.
Guess what? There will also be a reverse migration from cities to small towns in the United States.
This is because most people can now work from anywhere and if they choose to do it from small suburbs and towns; they can reduce the cost of living and save more.
Well, it is not just the Pandemic after effect. It is the matter of productivity, convenience, cost reduction, access to talent pool.
But what Corona Crisis changed is the stigma associated with remote working culture. Everyone has just opened up to the idea of a relatively productive workforce.
In the immediate future; highly-skilled, experienced and talented Virtual Project Managers with true drive to unite remote workers and give them directions towards positive outcomes will be in high demand. Currently, a Project Management Virtual Assistants earn approximately $16.56/hours in the United States.
A Way Ahead for Small Businesses
The United States has the most number of Coronavirus patients in the world. Amid the chaos, businesses’ temporary closures extends to permanent closed downs.
Trustworthy reports published on new media suggest closure of innumerable small businesses in San Francisco, New Orleans and Honolulu.
What if the situation continues into 2021!
If small businesses in the US die, its backbone will totally get destroyed.
More than half of its private sector employment is generated by small businesses.
Now, the only choice is to deploy remote teams in the small businesses as well.
Not all the industries can take this bold step, but it’s the only survival mechanism.
It is hard to predict when the economy will be back to pre-corona levels and a Virtual Project Managers role is enormous for the upheaval in the meantime.
Virtual Project Manager Skill-Sets
Building, engaging, motivating and driving a team of virtually working individuals towards a common goal is like throwing darts in the dark. It can be achieved only Virtual project managers with great communication, clear vision and experience.
Some of the sought after specific Virtual Project Manager skills are:
- Transparent Communication
- Great patience
- Result-oriented strategy development capabilities
- Problem-solving abilities
- Timeline management
- Technological proficiency
- Market research propensity
Genesis of Project Management
Every great step, the mankind has ever made is the result of carefully executed projects.
Structured processes yield faster results.
Forget about the mankind; let us turn our attention to the nature around us. Haven’t most of us seen birds flying in ‘V’ formation? If you are a careful watcher, you would have also noticed birds taking turns to lead the migrating flock.
Well, in the business world too, structured processes are a mandate.
The idea of strategizing, structuring and deciding the discourse of projects is the correct denotation of Project Management.
However, Project Management Virtual Assistant is a relatively new concept.
With the advancement in technology and availability of high-speed internet; businesses now realize that most of its tasks can be completed remotely.
Especially in 2020; virtual and remote teams aided in navigating organizations through the new normal and survive in the sinking economic statures.
Types of Virtual Teams
Well, management studies have now identified various types of Virtual Teams depending on factors such as objectives, roles played by the team members, temporal distribution and the life span.
The major ones are delineated below.
A virtual Product Development team has SMEs working from various parts of the world, contributing immensely to the development of a new product.
Each of the contributors has definite deliverables and timelines.
Don’t we know that Apple Inc, the famous California based multinational technology company has its production teams in China?
Well, the modern applications make the formation of teams anywhere around the globe an easy task.
Sharing of the designs, prototypes, product test reports, etc can be quickly shared across within moments.
A Virtual Project Manager in such teams:
- Take up the responsibility of managing timelines
- Coordinate with team contributors
- Set SOPs (Standard Operational Processes),
- Track budget, etc.
- A virtual networked team has members dispersed across various geographical areas and can include individuals outside the core organizational team.
Such teams are made for gaining robust expertise from industry leaders.
However, its life span depends on the objective of the team formed. Either till a solution is found to resolve an issue or till the right insights are formed for a project undertaken.
A team of Virtual Marketers belonging to an outside agency helping an In-house team of sales and marketing team of a small business can be cited as an example of a Networked Team.
Here, the project manager will be from the agency side and him or her play a mediator’s role, managing an in-house team at the organization’s side and the virtual agency team.
Such teams can be hybrid too. A team that has a mix of individuals, working in-house and virtually; managed by a highly skilled mediator functioning remotely or in-house; falls under a hybrid team category.
Virtual Project Managers for hybrid teams:
- Take the effort in bringing the right people together with an intention to complete projects within a stipulated time-frame.
- Encourage seamless communication between people working from different time zones and cultural backgrounds
- Build an errorless remote culture
- Measure productivity
- Solve team issues
Don’t think that the above 2 are the only identified Virtual Team Models. There are service teams, action teams, parallel teams and production teams too along with the virtual product development and Virtual Networked team.
Whatsoever, a Virtual Project Manager will match all your stereotypical ideas of how a manager should be, except that this person works virtually.
Virtual Project Management Tools
A Team Management Virtual Assistant should be aware of the top tools and software available in the market. The right technology in a Virtual Team Model saves a lot of time.
Platforms like ‘Time Doctor’ that aids in employee- time tracking and monitoring received huge revenues in 2020, as people preferred to work within remote teams. Week done, Wrike, Clarizon, Zoho, Asana, Jira, Trello, ProofHub, etc helped the virtual teams in 2020, for project continuity despite prolonged lockdowns, travel restrictions and border closures.
In general, a project manager chooses technology for communication, team monitoring and management, for role based access, to automate process, to streamline tasks, for role based access, to save data and track time.
It is not necessary for every project manager to get every other existing project management tools in the market. It totally varies from organization to organization.
Nevertheless, all remote projects have the below mentioned technological fundamental units:
- A great communication/ messaging/ conferencing tools moderated by a virtual Team Manager.
- A platform to track productivity
- A CRM or other Project Management Tools to record team progress towards achieving project goals
- VoIP phones and interconnected apps
Cheers! To the Virtual Managers, leading, incentivizing and yielding results from Virtual Teams; you guys are the reason why most organizations survived in 2020.
It is challenging from every single view point.
Maintaining an open and honest work environment to getting everyone on a conference call, maintaining work standards across various time zones to focusing on productivity – it is an uphill struggle.
This is why future workplaces wait with pleasure to onboard Virtual Managers, who are ready to adapt to changing workflows and are being offered great pays.