When the majority of businesses pivoted to remote work last year, one of the major concerns expressed by leadership was a loss of productivity. Would people really work as hard at home? Would they have the right tools and the motivation to accomplish tasks? These were legitimate concerns – business needed to carry on – but in many ways, they were focusing on the wrong issue.
Rather than emphasizing individual worker productivity and issues like time management, motivation, and work environment, businesses that want to boost staff performance should focus on their project management capacity, both in terms of staff and technology. Proper project management empowers staff and supports their work and, particularly when remote work is a concern, it can help build connections despite distance.
Support Staff With Software
One of the most important elements in an effective project management program is implementing the right software, and while the market is crowded, there are very few that go beyond basic organization. A great project management program consists of more than a series of checklists, but rather offers a collaborative workspace, supports secure file sharing, and employs easy-to-use automation tools so that team members and managers can spend less time on busy work and more time on the tasks that really matter.
In addition to giving staff the software they need to succeed when working remotely – and when they return to the office – it’s important not to expect team members to understand those programs overnight. You also need to invest in training for project managers and other staff and build added time into task timelines as they adjust to the new software.
In addition to providing the necessary software, businesses that want to increase team productivity need to equip their project managers with the soft skills for their role, and that means making communication a top priority. Too often, project managers are chosen for skills like attention to detail and organization – and those skills are extremely important – but they shouldn’t be prioritized over communication. It’s important that project managers can both clearly express themselves, outlining tasks and providing deadlines, as well as support team members in building their own communication skills.
One of the issues that comes with a focus on efficiency is that maximizing output is not actually a sustainable perspective. In any role or industry, tasks need to be paced so as to be sustainable over the long term, and that means developing a consistent approach to project management, an aspect of which includes choosing a platform and set of tools and sticking with it. Changing programs too often will drag down the team’s performance.
Whether or not your business is operating remotely, strong project management capabilities will always be necessary, so it’s worth creating a culture that supports those skills and investing in the right tools today. It’s also critical that businesses remember that, although project management supports efficiency, efficiency is not the end goal. Rather, the aim of project management is clarity and communication and, when those capacities are manifest, efficiency is the natural result.