3 Ways Most People Will Fail at Remote Work in 2021 (And How to Avoid Them!)

January 13, 2021

Last March, most non-essential workers traded in their office spaces for the comfort of their own homes. For some, it has been a frustrating, cramped few months, while for others, it has created a more productive and flexible workflow. Regardless, as Forbes Magazine recently reported, remote work is not something we can leave behind in 2020. Companies like Dropbox and Okta have announced remote work will be an option for the foreseeable future, and possibly even the default for new hires going forward. Amazon, Microsoft, and most other big name brands have confirmed a work-from-home set-up will continue through the New Year.

Whether working virtually is an adjustment in your seasoned career or part of your first professional experience out of college, it requires a lot of learning. Remote work comes with a new etiquette and set of standards for how we communicate, share information, and ultimately, do our jobs. In this article, we will go through the most common errors that new and experienced employees made last year while working remotely, and how you can overcome them in 2021 with simple, tried and true methods.

Way Number One: You’re communicating too much… or not enough.

Without seeing you do the work, it’s not surprising that many employers feel a heightened concern over their teams’ productivity. Over half of all large companies use some form of employee monitoring, and with remote work, more and more of them turn to attention tracking software that detects eye movements or screen monitoring software that reports everything on your screen.

While these invasive programs might suggest that your boss is a little too tightly wound, they also point to concerns shared by most managers during this time: Is work getting done? Are we being productive? Will we hit our targets? While the answer to all of these should be a resounding “yes!”, keeping your colleagues updated without pinging them all day can be a fine line. Here are some communication best practices for adequate sharing.

Schedule recurring meetings and come prepared.

No matter how helpful messages can be, it’s important to sync regularly ‘in person’ and get aligned on strategy and task. To make the most of your time together, we recommend creating a recurring calendar invite, setting an agenda, and coming prepared. This way, everyone on the team knows when to meet and can prepare talking points and key concerns. For over-communicators, regular meetings reduce messages; you can keep a list of questions, updates, and concerns, and present them all at once during the allocated time. For under-communicators, regular meetings provide an opportunity to ask for support or provide updates that they may forget to or be too intimidated to share otherwise.

We recommend sharing a Xoba Card with your team before each meeting so that everyone has access to the agenda, relevant email threads, and other links and files you may want to refer to during your time together.

Set clear, time-specific goals and send progress updates.

During these meetings, get aligned on vision, set clear, time-oriented goals, and document them in a way that works for your team. We prefer to keep meeting notes in Notion and delegate tasks in Asana. There will be no confusion around when something was supposed to be done, or who said they would take it on. Additionally, tools like Asana allow your team to stay updated on your progress and what is still left to be accomplished. Of course, providing updates offline when things take longer than expected or you need support is still important, but generally, documented goals streamline communication around delegation and progress.

Establish preferred methods of communication.

This might be the most important aspect of communication, as preferences vary between colleagues and managers. Many undergraduate students with virtual internships during Summer 2020 reported struggling to communicate effectively with their superiors. Thus, especially for new hires, it is essential to set expectations around communication and follow through. When you begin working with someone new, ask them what their style is so that you don’t bother them with too many messages or leave them in the dark. When in doubt, assume that less is more. Sending a brief, concise email is probably more effective than typing out multiple lengthy paragraphs. Someone can always ask for more information if needed, but in oversharing, you risk your message not being read at all. Finally, keep in mind that a 5-minute call can sometimes be more effective than 5 minutes of back and forth Slack chats. Next time, instead of bombarding your colleague with message after message, hash it out over a quick virtual coffee break.

Way Number Two: You’re not actively seeking out connections.

Probably the most obvious change from in-person to remote work is the decrease of natural, authentic interactions. Without any water cooler, elevator, or lunch conversations, only the occasional off-task Slack message arrives to lighten the mood. While non-work conversation may seem like a waste of time, it is actually essential to building the connections that allow teams to thrive and produce their best work. In a virtual setting, these things don’t happen naturally, so it’s up to you to seek out friends and mentors that will amplify your work and keep you engaged.

Find a mentor.

75% of top executives cited mentorship as essential to their career development. When you start a new position or work through projects, seek out the individuals that you admire or who possess knowledge that might be helpful. Since seeking out these connections can be a bit challenging in the virtual workplace, seek out a mutual connection and ask for an introduction.

Then, fall back on the previous advice we gave, and set regular meeting times. Meeting bi-weekly with a mentor can provide insight and direction on projects or within your career. As always, be respectful that a mentor is doing you a favor, and you should respond with equal respect by coming to each meeting with updates and questions prepared beforehand. Keeping a Card dedicated to work and notes specifically related to your mentor can be helpful for staying organized and keeping meetings as efficient as possible.

Find a friend (and stay connected).

Joking around with a ‘work friend’ is not just a way to blow off steam or move off task; research shows that people who have a best friend in their workplace are twice as likely to be engaged in the work they do. Maintaining time for conversation that’s non-work related allows you to get closer with your team and build trust essential to working well together and executing projects. Additionally, relationships that you deem meaningful make your work more enjoyable and provide further incentive for you to excel at the tasks you take on. We recommend building in social events even in the virtual workplace, such as a social hour to unwind at the end of each week, or a scheduled ‘coffee chat’ with your closest colleague every Monday. In whatever way feels natural to you, build the relationships that not only improve the quality of your work, but make the time spent on it more meaningful.

Way Number Three: You’re not organized.

The worst thing you can do to your digital workspace is nothing.

We don’t have to be workplace management experts to know that having information scattered across applications and teams is one of the greatest inhibitors of productivity. We all know how annoying and sometimes embarrassing it is to disturb your colleagues at their desks and ask them for help in finding information or resending a file, but the process is even more burdensome in the remote work world. Without the ability to see exactly what everyone else is up to, your message can either disrupt your colleague’s workflow while they’re in the middle of an important task or it might get buried at the bottom of their inbox until you ping them again. Keeping your information organized can reduce stumbling blocks for you and distractions for your colleagues.

Offline: be smart with your workspace.

People struggle without structure, and with remote work, you typically have more freedom around how to organize your day, workspace, and work-life balance. If possible, create a schedule every day: working in pajamas may sound fun, but the structure of preparing for the day and adhering to a stricter schedule can actually boost your productivity and wellbeing. The same concept applies to your role in life. While you might be a parent, roommate, or significant other normally at home, set boundaries with the people in your residence and make it clear that while at your desk, you are strictly at work.

Online: be smart with your bookmarks.

Your space and schedule are not the only things that can get messy; information organization can be equally disruptive to your productivity. It is an absolute nightmare to have to sort through dozens of tabs across several windows in search of one specific page, and it is all the more frustrating when you realize you offhandedly closed the tab at some point in your busy day. To prevent yourself from being in that position, make a habit of saving potentially important pages to a Card using the Xoba browser extension. Using Cards to bookmark and group relevant information is critical to maintaining a clean digital workspace. We recommend having separate Cards for each project you work on, so your information is always clearly stored and easy to access.

Information Should Work for You, Not Against You

We have reached a time of information saturation where every aspect of knowledge sharing is online. While this can feel overwhelming, it presents more of an opportunity than a problem.

With a solid plan and the proper tools, you can harness information and make it work for you .

We recommend following these simple steps and giving Xoba Cards a try.

My thanks to my friends at Xobalabs for this insightful article, check them out at www.xobalabs.com

Xoba is here to help your team spend less energy searching and sending, and more time on meaningful work.

With so much information consumed and exchanged each day, it’s easy for the resources you need to get lost in a seemingly endless vortex of open tabs and applications. Xoba can integrate with key applications and provide a home base for your team to organize, search and collaborate — reducing time wasted trying to remember where information is stored.

Creating a Common Collective for Distributed Teams

December 9, 2020

We have all experienced an amazing transformation in the last year, one which has, in many ways, accelerated changes that we already beginning to happen, in the way we work, where we work and how we work as part of a team.

The following is a guest article from my friends at CROOW.

Creating a Common Collective for Distributed Teams

Work looks different these days. With the rise of remote work, advancements in communication and collaboration technologies, and team members dispersed in different locations, the overall scope of project management has undergone a major shift. The COVID-19 pandemic has driven major changes in virtually every aspect of our lives, including the workplace. Many industries and organizations have shifted to a remote workplace, which may be permanent for many companies. Without having every team member under the same roof, it has become more complicated to make sure your team is working towards a common goal. Here are six tips for creating a common collective for distributed teams while we face these challenging times.

  1. Find the right people.

It’s no secret that hard working people create higher quality work. Finding the right people to hire on your team is key in running a successful distributed team. These employees need to be independent in the sense that they do not constantly need to be checked up on, but collaborative enough to bounce ideas off one another and ask the right questions when needed. Make sure to follow the right protocols when onboarding new team members remotely, and you will set your distributed team up for success.

  1. Clarify roles and responsibilities.

Once you get the right team of doers onboarded, it is essential to clearly clarify their roles and responsibilities. Setting realistic expectations for your team will make sure that everyone is doing their part and is held accountable for reaching the goals they need to reach. This way, there are less holes in productivity while completing projects in a remote environment.

  1. Leverage communication tools to your advantage.

In a physical office environment, it is easy to walk over to a coworker’s desk to clarify a simple question. However, with a dispersed team, it can be more difficult to keep up with communication. That’s where technology comes in. Using applications like Slack or Microsoft Teams can help your team stay connected on a casual basis to answer simple questions without the need for a formal email or call.

  1. Embrace a video-first culture.

While teams cannot not physically meet face-to-face, creating a video-first culture is the next best thing. Conducting meetings and calls on video conferencing software creates more meaningful interactions between coworkers and helps employees focus on the task at hand. Adding the human element of seeing one another’s faces can help team members pick up on nonverbal cues and provide for overall improved communication.

  1. Utilize project management software.

Project management software can be a lifesaver for teams that are dispersed. Project management tools allow teams to collaborate with each other in real-time, and allow for multiple people to view and edit a project at once. These platforms can be a great tool for prioritizing tasks and holding remote team members accountable for their responsibilities.

  1. Provide feedback and praise.

While physically apart from one another, it can be hard for team members to know whether or not they are producing sufficient and high-quality work. Providing praise and constructive feedback where appropriate can be a great way to make sure your team is on track. Setting up a consistent cadence for feedback can reassure both the employee and team manager that the best work is being produced.

Although many teams and organizations are now dispersed, it doesn’t mean that meeting a common collective is impossible. Following the right processes and going above and beyond in collaboration practices will assure that your team is working towards the same goals at the same pace. Although project management in a remote work environment may seem more difficult, following these guidelines and avoiding common mistakes will set your distributed team up for success.

Interesting thoughts I am sure that you will agree.

Want to find out more? Then check out my friends at CROOW today.

Offering Creative Collaboration for Remote Teams (Centralize access to creative assets and projects – Connect teams for better collaboration).

An Audience with Rick and Peter (2)

November 24, 2020

By popular demand (well one person asked us) Rick and Peter are back with a second ‘An Audience with Rick and Peter’ free webinar on Tuesday 15th December at 5pm GMT/12pm ET

This time we will be talking ‘Speaking in Project Management’ – covering presentation tips and how to get started as a speaker in the project management world

Book your place  RIGHT HERE

Six (yes 6) Ways to Hear The Lazy Project Manager Speak

November 10, 2020

Check these out – 6 (yes six!) chances to hear Pete

Why Stakeholders regularly Ignore your Project Reports and how to Fix that – Wed, 18 Nov 2020 17:00 GMT https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/why-stakeholders-regularly-ignore-your-project-reports-and-how-to-fix-that-tickets-127335713547

By Invitation Only: AI in Project Management ‘a deeper discussion’ – Tue, 17 Nov 2020 16:00 GMT – message me for details if you lead a lead of 25 or more

The Project Management Software Selection Struggle – Thu, 26 Nov 2020 16:00 GMT https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-project-management-software-selection-struggle-tickets-128124336339

Will Artificial Intelligence (AI) support of replace Project Managers in the future? – Wed. 25 Nov 2020 17:00 – 21:00 CET https://www.pmi-sgc.de/events/eventkalender/635

Process, People, and Products – a Special Workshop with Lee and Peter – Wed, 9 Dec 2020 14:00 GMT/9am ET https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/process-people-and-products-a-special-workshop-with-lee-and-peter-tickets-126783142793

Speaking in Project Management: An Audience with Rick and Peter (2) – Tue, 15 Dec 2020 17:00 GMT/12pm ET https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/speaking-in-project-management-an-audience-with-rick-and-peter-2-tickets-128595686159

Project Business Management talks to Peter Taylor – The Lazy Project Manager

September 22, 2020

Project Business Management talks to Peter Taylor – The Lazy Project Manager – this is the #ONE you do not want to miss

Date: 28.09.2020
Time: 5:00 PM (CEST)*
Place: Online (ZOOM)
Registration: https://lnkd.in/etcDyPQ
Details: https://lnkd.in/e3utEZU

Hosts:
Oliver F. Lehmann, MSc, ACE, PMP
Martin Berneburg, PMP, PSM

* my time zone: https://lnkd.in/dMPnkk5

#projectmanagement#projects#economy#pmo#projectmanager#innovation#management#future#careers#projectbusiness#AskTheFoundation#growth#education#contractors#customer#lazy#petertaylor#ppm#pmi#apm#ipma#pmp#capm#rpm#prince2#battlezone

Consistency: A better way to approach your project business in the ‘new normal’

September 16, 2020

Peter Taylor. The Lazy Project Manager

In the 2020’s can there be any remaining justification for using worksheets to build and store project cost calculations? 

Sanity check!

We are, without any doubt, in the word of social collaboration in project management, harnessing the power of the many and strength of the collective. We are, equally without any doubt, in a world of virtual and remote project team engagement, with all the alignment challenges (read ‘opportunities’) that brings. And we are in a world of that is being driven by the project economy concept, where the very business of the business you work for is operating in a projectified way, with projects becoming ever more complex and wide-ranging in their team composition and outcome expectations.

And let’s not just think ‘internal’ projects here. Many projects happen through the collaboration of a supplier/client partnership that requires a common purpose and shared outcome focus, a joining together of two business cultures and personnel and processes to become (temporarily at least) one.

Exciting stuff isn’t it!

But, yes, there is always a ‘but’ of course.

But, all this complexity, virtuality, global reach, etc. highlights a weakness that has always been with us. The weakness of data, and errors in that data, upon which significant decisions are made, commitments set and promises committed to. And it is a weakness that in this ‘new normal’ will only become even more critical, and prone to some scary errors in the future unless changes in behaviour are made.

One person doing one thing using one tool is more than likely to produce something accurate (or at least accurate according to that one person of course).

Throw two people into the mix, making sure they don’t sit next to each other at work (well that doesn’t happen anymore anyway does it?) and it gets slightly more complicated with the opportunity for error rising  slightly.

Escalate that by a factor of 4, or 10 or a number of your choice perhaps with an extra seasoning of multiple office tools and you can quickly see the chances of an error (or more) occurring and being missed rises hugely.

And those errors can be costly trust me, I have personally experienced something like this in the past where a simple error of transfer impacted a quote for a small component of a bigger solution that, in turn, screwed up a larger part of the expected deliverable. Results was delay that potentially could have led to a very (and I mean very) big penalty. We are talking millions here.

It is not a matter of the classic ‘garbage in, garbage out’ but more of ‘good stuff in but copied wrong and creating garbage that thrives in this complex journey of project costs estimation and pricing that delivers major garbage on the way out along where some pretty embarrassed people who have to a) explain what happened and/or b) have to tell their organisations that profits might be a little hard to achieve this time around.

Uncomfortable!

Let us summarise here. The project world is bigger, more complex, scarier in some ways, and involving more people and bigger teams. Net result is that errors are exponentially more likely to happen and to be way bigger (more impactful and career challenging) when they do happen, which they almost certainly will.

The project services business is growing and will continue to grow as we expand the project based economy and the need for organisations to work in alignment with each other in order to successfully deliver the demands that there markets and their leaders place on them.

The solution, simply put, is

  • Consistency where is matters
  • Visibility where you need it
  • Accuracy at all times

Consider your ‘shopping’ list for this situation:

Give me something that offers a unified method to calculate cost and price across organisation(s) (including risk budget calculation, warranty, uplift/discounts)

Add a great big dash of something that eliminates inconsistencies and errors by allowing team to share calculations and work collaboratively, with a means to manage cost/price approvals as well.

If it also recalculates currencies on the fly for international resources, material, or expenses then all the better thank you very much.

Ideally it centrally stores and manages organisation resources and cost rates, material, and expenses for reuse whilst also storing all customers, projects, and calculations in one place.

Make that stored information easy to search and duplicate for the next project, thereby building company wisdom, then that has to be a bonus.

And finally, make reporting and analysis a walk in the park through the ability to export calculations to PDF, Excel, HTML (user-customisable) and surely you must have a winner there!

Enter Pricell  – Calculate Your Project or Service Cost with a Cloud based application that drives price accuracy in any professional services business

Check it out  https://pricell.io/#pricing (Single User is free)

Will AI ‘Terminate’ Project Management

September 3, 2020

Join the discussion on this free webinar https://lnkd.in/dYeTQSE – Peter Taylor, hosted by Sharktower!

An Audience with The Lazy Project Manager

July 6, 2020

BOOK YOUR PLACE TODAY BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/110596609436

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Join Peter Taylor, for a 2 hour Webinar Extravaganza (with suitable breaks for remote attendance):

  • Keynote: The Lazy Project Manager
  • Fun: Who wants to be a ‘Lazy PM’ Millionaire
  • Discussion: You and your project challenges – bring your problems and we will openly discuss and try to help you
  • Celebration: How you are PM Superstars

‘Progress isn’t made by early risers. It’s made by lazy men trying to find easier ways to do something’

Learn about the art of productive laziness with The Lazy Project Manager; understanding what is meant by the ‘productive lazy’ approach to Projects (and life) and learn how to apply these lessons ‘to be twice as productive and still leave the office early’.

The session will cover the definition of productive laziness, the science behind the theory (yes there really is some) and will share some personal learning experiences that led to the creation of ‘The Lazy Project Manager’. In addition, the audience will consider the three key project stages, one of which the ‘lazy’ project manager works very hard in and the second they should be in the comfortable position of enjoying the ‘comfy chair’ safe in the knowledge that the project is well under control and the final where often some critical work is missed.

The Lazy Way to Deliver Better Presentations

July 6, 2020

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/110599618436 BOOK TODAY – OFFER CLOSES SOON

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Helping you to deliver better presentations:

  • What makes a good Presentation and what doesn’t
  • The make up of your Audience
  • Managing Content and Time
  • Designing the best Format to get your message across
  • Planning for the possible Risks
  • The Hates (and the Loves)
  • Delivery Style
  • Feedback and Lessons Learned

The 1-hour format is aligned to best practice remote delivery

Optional Purchases

Personal coaching sessions

eBook or signed printed book ‘The Presentation on Presentations’ by Peter Taylor

Peter Taylor

Peter is the author of the number 1 bestselling project management book ‘The Lazy Project Manager’, along with many other books on Project Management, PMO development, Executive Sponsorship, Transformation Leadership, and Speaking Skills.

He has delivered over 380 lectures around the world in over 25 countries and has been described as ‘perhaps the most entertaining and inspiring speaker in the project management world today’.

The Informal Project Manager

May 26, 2020

Are you an Informal Project Manager

Not a Project Manager? But you are a Project Manager? Then book your place on this Free webinar

https://informalprojectmanager.eventbrite.co.uk

The Informal Project Manager

There are three strata inside organisations today. There is ‘Business As Usual’ (BAU) what your business is all about, what do make, what you sell, what you offer, there are ‘Projects As Projects’ (PAP), the big scary changes that demand a full-time project manager, and ‘Projects As Usual’ (PAU). These are changes led by the Informal Project Managers of the world, and there are many such change leaders who deliver this as part of their day job but who, perhaps, have never been told how to do this, or who have no supporting community to aid them.

  • What challenges do you, as an Informal Project Manager face on a day to day basis?
  • What are the key things that you should need in order to be successful?
  • And where can you find help top do your job well?

This Webinar is aimed at your world, your challenges, your needs. Led by Peter Taylor, The Lazy Project Manager, and supported by a panel of experts from Microsoft Project targets your needs, today.

Agenda

  • Introductions
  • The world of the Informal Project Manager
  • What would really help you as an Informal Project Manager?
  • What are the risks of projects led by an Informal Project Manager?
  • What are the top 5 tips on being a successful Informal Project Manager?
  • How can you get help?
  • Panel Discussion
  • Close out/Final thought

Join Peter on 24th June and hear some great advice, meet many other Informal Project Managers, as well as having an experienced mentor ready to help you.

https://informalprojectmanager.eventbrite.co.uk

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