79% of the UK’s technology professionals want to work from home (Com Skills), and, whilst closing the office sounds like a cost-saving strategy for many companies in the industry, it isn’t always feasible.
A few tech positions, like robotics engineering or hardware IT maintenance, need a “hands on” approach that require workers on-site.
So, when you have various teams operating in hybrid work environments and some full-time in offices or warehouses, project management can pose challenges.
As a leader, you have to step back and see the bigger picture - considering:
The needs of your remote employees.
The needs of your on-site employees.
The needs of your company and the goal you want to achieve.
Although technology is certainly capable of enabling remote management for the majority of tasks, these 3 factors heavily influence the decision.
8 Differences Between On-Site and Remote Management
The most obvious difference between managing projects on-site and remotely is accountability.
Project managers who get involved with the team on-site can generate respect from workers, encouraging them to work hard. This will reflect well on talent in hybrid positions (e.g Data Analysts) who come to work and see happy and supported colleagues.
On-site meetings act as a motivator for teams across the board, where technology employees are expected to present deliverables for review. Workers find it much harder to explain that they’ve not done the work when in the presence of their team, rather than a 1 on 1 meeting conducted online.
Remote work for technology professionals provides independence, allowing software developers to assign their own workloads.
For project managers who need to track the progress of a mobile application deliverable, however, remote check-ins are a downside.
Vital information can slip through the cracks, and employees may be unsure of what to include in their daily/weekly reports. Being present on-site will increase the number of communication channels between teams, and give managers an opportunity to ask questions and follow up more often.
Remote project management may create a lack of understanding and empathy between the manager and an employee, where teamwork takes an impact as a result. If on-site technicians are able to meet a leader in person, they are more likely to:
Build trust with them.
Be honest about their needs for resources.
Ask questions if they are struggling.
Work harder towards the common goal.
Remotely managing projects may add to the isolation technology employees are feeling, and, as a leader, it’s your job to foster and cultivate support networks. It’s much easier to judge someone’s emotional wellbeing in person, so choosing an on-site manager demonstrates care and commitment to your employees.
On the other hand, on-site project management can sometimes be more expensive than contracting a remote worker, requiring higher salaries and benefits (such as covering travel costs). In our digital environment, the majority of management - like assigning tasks, tracking spending, and communicating with employees - can be done online, making remote options attractive for a business.
Although resource allocation and spending can be done through the help of software, errors may be made. Hiring an on-site project manager will ensure the budget is being used efficiently as they can check the data themselves and make sure technology teams are staying focused on the matter at hand.
On-site project management can lead to stressed employees who prefer freedom and independence in their daily working lives. Technology talent are often highly-skilled and qualified, and project managers who don’t understand the ins-and-outs of the specifics, like coding software, may step on toes and cause harm. Remote managers tend to average a check-in once every week or so, giving developers a chance to gain the right head-space needed to code.
Security risks are a huge threat to technology companies, with data leaks costing an average of £2,670 per breach (Statista). On-site project management can reduce the risk of cyber threats through the use of personal laptops, and allow professionals to check devices for bugs or issues. When working on confidential projects, managing projects on-site would be much more secure.
The Factors of Remote Project Management
For the majority of technology organisations, employees are the most important part of any project.
Maintaining positivity levels and supporting different workers across the board comes down to:
Being a present leader who builds trust.
Allowing talent to be independent.
Caring for employee wellbeing.
Providing the right tools and resources.
It’s a lot.
Project managers are often under huge pressure, adhering to strict time schedules for goals and overseeing the productivity of hybrid team’s can be tricky.
In 2022, project managers, especially in SAAS service spaces, will have to rise to the occasion and embrace hybrid positions themselves to give employees the “best of both worlds”.
By coming into the office on occasion, on-site teams can receive support, and, by working from home on other days, they can give employees the freedom they need to thrive.
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