Big Favour

June 21, 2021

I am working on my latest book ‘Team Analytics: How to run high performance teams and accelerate project success’, in conjunction with Bentzy Goldman of Perflo, and as part of this we are undertaking a survey to understand your team/project experiences

If you could do two things for me that would be amazing

Complete the following short survey https://lnkd.in/d54pMj8

Send the survey link to all of your colleagues and your social network

Thank you – and if you have any specific stories of challenges, and how you overcame them, then send them to me for possible inclusion in the book (out early 2022)

The Lazy Project Manager introduces…

June 2, 2021

Episode 1 – Meet Tim Stumbles of Office Timeline

A free Zoom gathering where Peter Taylor, The Lazy Project Manager, introduces some of his friends from the wide world of project management

Episode one is Tim from Office Timeline

Book your free place today here https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-lazy-project-manager-introduces-tim-from-office-timeline-tickets-157655691417

And share the link with everyone you know

About the Me:

Peter Taylor: Speaker, Consultant, Trainer and Coach, Peter is the author of the number 1 bestselling project management book ‘The Lazy Project Manager’. He has built and led some of the largest PMOs in the world with organisations such as Siemens, IBM, and Kronos. In 2020 he was awarded the PMO Global Alliance ‘PMO Influencer of the Year Award’. www.thelazyprojectmanager.com

About Office Timeline:

Office Timeline is attempting to cut in half the amount of time teams spend on reporting, while doubling the attention VPs and executives give to their projects. We are committed to make projects, programs and planning more successful through highly visual, uncomplicated, easy-to-use, productivity software. Built for PMP® holders, the Office Timeline Pro PowerPoint add-in turns complex project data into simple slides that clients, VPs, and steering committees will easily understand. www.officetimeline.com

Modernizing PPM: A Practical Four-Step Roadmap to Accelerate Agility

May 25, 2021

Special Live Webinar with Peter Taylor – The Lazy Project Manager – and Planview

Modernizing PPM: A Practical Four-Step Roadmap to Accelerate Agility

PM Today is delighted announce that our associate editor, Amy Hatton, will be hosting a very special live Planview webinar, featuring Author, Speaker, Coach, Consultant and Trainer, Peter Taylor – AKA The Lazy Project Manager.

BOOK YOUR FREE PLACE TODAY

Free Planview Webinar Registration

This webinar comes as Planview launches its new report, The State of Strategy Execution: Embracing Uncertainty to Adapt at Speed. This valuable global resource shares deep insights into how companies are responding to a world of continuous market disruption.

It also marks the launch of Peter’s new book: Make Your Business Agile: A Roadmap for Transforming Your Management and Adapting to the ‘New Normal’. What’s more, five lucky webinar delegates will receive Peter’s signed new book in the Planview draw*!

Delegates are invited to join the webinar to find out how the PMO can lead the way in embedding speed and agility into strategy execution.

Peter will be joined by Planview’s Director of Solutions Marketing, Linda Roach. Together, they will explore:

  • Planview’s findings about why rapidly adapting strategy execution wins out, key barriers to change, and how Strategy Execution Leaders are leaving obstacles in the rear-view mirror.
  • Why right now is the time to claim the PMO’s seat at the executive table.
  • Four steps your PMO can take to accelerate PPM agility, outpacing the competition.
  • Practical tips, tricks, and toolkits for working smarter – not harder – to empower teams, get the right work done at the right time, and deliver the portfolio with visibility and clarity.

This will be a lively, thought provoking session packed with debate, challenge, and practical advice.

Amy will also host a live panel Q&A with these distinguished speakers, giving PMO and PPM professionals the chance to quiz Peter and Linda on the issues that are really on their  minds!

Spaces are limited and interest is expected to be very high – so delegates are encouraged to register now secure their seat the the table!

Register today.

*See Planview Official Book Draw Rules for 2021 for more information

About Planview

Planview has one focus: enabling the transformation journey as organizations rewire strategy to delivery in today’s fast-paced, highly disruptive markets. Our solutions enable organizations to navigate this journey and accelerate on-strategy delivery at enterprise scale. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions create organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empower teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enable customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, Planview has more than 1,000 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 1.3 million users worldwide. For more information, visit: www.planview.com.

The PMO Game Changer: A Value-Driven Project Resource Management

April 6, 2021

GRAB YOUR FREE EBOOK HERE

1. What is a Value-Driven Project Resource Management?

GRAB YOUR FREE EBOOK HERE

Project resource management by PMO has changed significantly in the last 20 years. It is no more a mere spreadsheet for allocating resources to the projects and plug the holes. It has evolved into a highly value-driven resource management solution.

A value-driven resource management is designed to help a business reduce project resource cost, increase billable/strategic utilization, beat market volatility and more. It can potentially become a key component of business profitability and sustainability.

This article would help you understand how a value-driven resource management can become a major game-changer for the PMO and become a profit centre for the business.

2. How Value-Driven Resource Management can be a Game Changer for the PMO?

Traditionally a PMO is seen as an administrative group setting up the project management standards and generating management reports. But in the last few years, a PMO has started evolving into a value centre. In this journey, modern resource management has become a key player. It can potentially deliver these values to the business.

  • Reduce Overall Project Resource Cost by 10-30%
  • Increase Billable and Strategic Utilization by 10-20%
  • Futureproof Your Workforce Against Market Volatility
  • Leverage the Skills Across Matrix Org. Boundaries
  • Improve Employee Productivity
  • Reduce Resource Acquisition Cost

These benefits might sound unreal. But they are definitely achievable by a modern resource management solution.

#1 Reduce Overall Project Resource Cost by 10-30 %

These are the capabilities of a value-driven resource management solution, which can help a business reduce overall project resource cost by 10-30%.

Minimize under/over skilled resources on projects: Both over and under-skilled resources increase the cost of the project. A modern resource management solution can help in identifying and allocating the right person with the right level of skill and experience.

Utilize cost-efficient global and local resources: An enterprise-level resource management solution can help you in allocating the right mix of local and global resources to the project. It can reduce resource cost significantly.

Minimize last-minute hiring cost and compromises: With proper resource capacity planning, one can forecast the future resource requirements and be proactive in acquiring the right resources at the right cost ahead of time.

Minimize hiring/firing wastageResource forecasting can help in identifying resource shortage ahead of time so that the internal staffs can be retrained or hire consultant or freelancer resources for short durations. It reduces unnecessary wastage due to hiring and firing.

Minimize Project Onboarding and Offboarding Time: An efficient and accurate resource planning and forecasting can help a PMO minimize onboarding and offboarding time.

#2 Increase Billable and Strategic Utilization by 10-20%

Maximizing billable utilization of resources in a professional service business is the key to profitability and sustainability. Similarly, maximizing strategic utilization of the resources is key to achieve the strategic goal of the business.

Improving billable and strategic resource utilization requires deep foresight into the overall utilization of resources. It is challenging work, especially in a matrix organization with a continually changing resource demand. But a modern resource management solution can help you get a real-time foresight into future resource utilization. So that corrective actions can be taken ahead of time.

#3 Futureproof Your Workforce Against Market Volatility

Market volatility in the last few years is continuously impacting the viability of every business. A smart resource capacity planning process can help you forecast a shortage or excesses of the resources and help you take proactive action.

Bridge Resource Shortage Proactively

  • Retraining existing employees
  • Smoothening the project workload
  • Hiring contingent resources ahead of time

Forward Plan and Utilize Excess Resources

  • Bringing forward future projects
  • Selling resource time aggressively
  • Restructuring capacity in different areas

#4 Leverage the Skills of Resources Across Matrix Org. Structure

In a matrix organization structure, it may be challenging to acquire a particular skilled resource in one location compared to others. With an enterprise resource management solution, a PMO can easily identify the person with the right competencies and utilize him/her in any part of the world. At the same time, a high skilled person also can be used to provide training and to a person on the bench.

#5 Improve Employee Communication and Productivity

A value-driven resource management solution provides end-to-end work management along with collaboration to ensure that employees are working productively onsite and remotely. This solution can help a business:

3. Best Practices of Enterprise Resource Management Software

Resource management has evolved a lot during the last few years. Matured businesses have adopted well-developed and defined practices to get the best value out of their enterprise resources. Following are the best practices adopted across the industries.

Enterprise Resource Scheduling: Replace Silos with a Single Plan
Replace silos of spreadsheets or home-grown tools with a single real-time resource plan across the whole enterprise. Establish a single source of truth about resource allocations to the projects or non-project work such as BAU, Support, admin, operation, and more.

Workforce Optimization: Allocate Right Resource to the Right Project
Identify cost-effective competent resources with a click of a button across a matrixed organization structure so that the right resource can be allocated to the right project at the right time at the right cost.

Resource Utilization Forecasting: Maximize Billable and Strategic Utilisation
Get foresight into the future utilization of resources with real-time forecasting and analyze how effective they are. Accordingly, move employees from non-billable work to billable or strategic work. Improvement in effective utilization has a direct impact on the profitability of the business,

Resource Capacity Planning: Minimize Shortfall or Excesses of Resources
Forecast shortfall and excesses of resources ahead of time by identifying the gap between resource capacity against demand. Accordingly build strategies to bridge this capacity gap by juggling around project timelines, retrain current employees or hire a contingent workforce.

Pipeline Project Management: Forecast Proactively for Future Projects
Forward plan resource requirements for future or pipeline projects. Start identifying and acquiring cost-efficient competent resources ahead of time. Avoid last-minute hiring and reduces the overall cost of the project.

End-to-End Project Forecasting: Gain Real-Time Foresight into the Future
Resource supply and demand scenario change fast in almost every business. So, it is critical to have a real-time forecasting capability and get an early warning at every stage of the project life cycle. It helps in early decision making and take corrective actions proactively.

Team Collaboration: Streamline Communication and Reduce Chaos
Enable team collaboration with the modern-day solution. It can seamlessly bring remotely distributed team on a single platform. Minimize waiting period and complete task efficiently in a lesser period.

Resource Modelling: Simulate and Improve Decision Making
Use what-if analysis to get the best possible project resourcing outcome within the existing constraints. It helps you in moving around the project’s timelines based on priorities and put low-priority projects on hold.

Business Intelligence: Real-Time Multi-Dimensional Data Analysis
Get real-time business intelligence for dynamically changing business scenarios. Do multi-dimensional analysis as per the specific requirements of stakeholders and get a granular view of data with configurable filters.

4. How to Select a Resource Management Software

Even though the fundamental principles of resource management may be the same, but every business has a set of unique requirements for the software. It depends upon the industry and type of business. So, selecting the right resource management tool is a complex process that requires a number of careful considerations.

Following are some of these criteria that can be used to evaluate the right resource management software: –

User Interface and User Experience
An essential part of software selection is that the end-user of the product likes user interface and can navigate through the system effortlessly without going thru too many clicks.

Manages Complexity of Matrix Organization Structure
Matrixed organization structure has multiple reporting lines making resource identification, allocation, utilization very hard. So, the software should be capable of overcoming challenges of such complexities and manage resource efficiently and take care of the needs of different stakeholders.

Needs to be Configurable, Expandability and Scalable
The software should be highly configurable to meet the specific needs of the business without compromise so that the business would have a competitive edge against the rivals. The software should also be expandable and scalable as per the growing needs of the business.

Capability to Reduce Resource Cost
Resource management software should help your business to do multi-dimensional forecasting so that the business can get real-time business intelligence to improve business performance, profitability, and productivity.

Provides Real-Time Business Intelligence
Resource demand changes every minute in real life. So, it is crucial to have real-time business intelligence, i.e. reports, analytics, and dashboards. It enables the management taking decisions based on the latest information

Integrates with Other Legacy Systems
Most businesses have already invested in enterprise-level systems. They hold quite a bit of data required by a resource management solution, i.e., resource profile, competencies, project detail, etc. So, the resource management system must integrate seamlessly with existing applications.

Provides High Return on Investment
Select a tool that provides a high return on investment in a short time. It should be possible to have a small phase of implementation without lots of investment so that the risk of investment and change management can be minimized.

5. The SAVIOM Solution

SAVIOM provides state of the art tool for supporting value-driven PMO. It has more than 20 years of experience working with high valued global companies around the world. SAVIOM also provides tools for enterprise resource management, professional service automation, and workforce planning software. So, SAVIOM can help your business to establish an efficient system geared towards your specific business challenges.

GRAB YOUR FREE EBOOK HERE

One Year on Terra Firma

March 2, 2021

It was (and I still can’t quite believe this) one year ago that I last stepped off a plane after a visit to Geneva and Zurich to deliver a series of presentations and workshops for CERN and PMI Switzerland.

At approximately (this is flying after all, and Heathrow) 5:25pm GMT I walked off a plane without a clue as to what was about to happen (and I expect not alone in that either).

Beyond some rise in the Covid-19 news and more than the usual number of passengers and airport staff wearing masks, all was normal.

But it wasn’t normal at all.

We know that now!

This is the longest period in my life that I have not flown, since, well, since I started flying I think. You don’t do my type of work (project management, PMO leadership at a global level, keynote speaking, consultancy and training) without clocking up some pretty impressive airmiles and flight status.

It has, in more than one way, been an astonishing year.

My work dropped off a cliff by April 2020, with my pipeline dropping 75% in the space of two weeks. The demand for keynote speakers, trainers and consultancy seemed to almost magically disappear (and I am talking diabolical magic and not fluffy bunnies out of a top hat type of magic).

But I readjusted my service offerings, became a ‘black-belt’ in Zoom (and other) tools, and slowly rebuilt my business to a point where it looked like the children wouldn’t starve and we would have a roof over our heads.

And then came lockdown 2.0 (and then a little later in the year) lockdown 3.0.

For the second time in 12 months I readjusted my business to meet what market there was and became a PM ‘influencer’ working with companies like Wrike, Clarizen, Microsoft, Sharktower, and more.

And guess what? I am still standing and looking forward to an end to lockdown number three and a gradual return to whatever the new normal will be.

Hell, I am a project manager and I thrive on change right?

It hasn’t all been bad.

So much time spent at home with my partner (although a twice delayed wedding so far…).

So much walking and seeing my local sights (with a hint of getting slightly fitter perhaps).

A new vegetable garden planned and prepared.

Two new books written, including my 21 day challenge book with contributors round the world (The Projectless Manager), and two more on the way (AI and PM, and Project Teams).

An amazing role with Perflo (www.perflo.co) as expert advisor for this unique project people orientated technology.

New keynote topics developed and ready (just call please).

Virtual training courses built from the ground up to be truly effective remotely delivered.

A great partnership with the team at Office Timeline (www.officetimeline.com) a brilliant PowerPoint add in for project reporting.

Won the PMO Influencer of the Year award.

Plus a few more ‘irons in the fire’.

But I do honestly miss the travel, 2019 offered me Rio, Orlando, Rovinj amongst others, so if you are planning a ‘real’ conference in the future please get in touch. After all, how many other keynote speakers have had hundreds of project managers singing ‘Let it go’ from Frozen, or hundreds of PMO people all doing a ‘Mexican’ wave, or hundreds more wearing a red nose because it was cool and funny?

Exactly, The Lazy Project Manager is unique.

Call me.

Stay safe and here’s to a better 2021 for the whole world.

Now is the time to invest in learning and so I offer you six ways to develop your personal or team skills

February 1, 2021

Elizabeth Harrin

Providing education and mentorship to project managers – Author, Trainer, Speaker

The 3 critical skills you need to manage multiple projects and leave the office on time!

Here is what you’ll learn:

  • ​The 5 things that make managing multiple projects different to just leading one project
  • My favourite method for managing my time across multiple projects
  • The best way to sequence your projects
  • The one thing that’s killing your comms and what do about it.

Book your VIP option place here https://lazypm–elizabeth.thrivecart.com/mmp/

Or there is a Self-Study option https://lazypm–elizabeth.thrivecart.com/mmp-self-study/

Elizabeth also offers Project Management Rebels, which is a teaching-led group mentoring programme.

You’ll get the foundational knowledge, the skills to deliver, and the community that so many project managers don’t have in their organisations.

You’ll learn through a combination of live teaching, videos, reading, Q&A sessions and our group of engaged and supportive project managers. We’ve also got exclusive templates and webinars to help you make more of a difference, more quickly.

More information and booking here https://lazypm–elizabeth.thrivecart.com/pm-rebels-monthly/

Peter Taylor

Three great options from myself are also open to you and your teams:

The Lazy Project Manager: Productive Laziness in Project Management hosted by PMO Leader

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’.

Based on the Amazon #1 Bestselling Project Management Book by Peter Taylor.

Grab your place today here https://www.thepmoleader.com/the-lazy-project-manager

And hosted by PMI Budapest, Hungarian Chapter (but open to all)

Social Project Team Management

Attendees will learn about the paradigm shift to ‘Social Project Management’ and what the benefits are, as well as the challenges and opportunities, along with some research insights into the power of project team performance.

https://pmi.hu/calendar?eventId=7170

or

AI and the impact on Project Management

The workshop will explore a number of key questions in regard to the use of AI in project management, including:

Will AI be the end of the project manager or the opportunity to become even more successful project managers?

Starting by exploring the four levels of AI: Process Automation, Chatbots, Machine Learning and Autonomous project management, and hearing from two of the project technology market leaders in AI, will form a great foundation of understanding

This is followed by the sharing of research for Peter’s new book ‘AI in Project Management’ about what people feel about AI around the world – practitioners, providers, and thought-leaders.

https://pmi.hu/calendar?eventId=7171

If you are seeking something specific to your current needs, training, coaching or speaking, please contact me today peter.b.taylor@btinternet.com

Peter Taylor

www.thelazyprojectmanager.com

PMO Influencer of the Year 2020 (PMO Global Alliance)

How to Better Assign Content Writing Opportunities

January 28, 2021

If your project is in need of copy for a newsletter, blog, or social post, your first instinct may be to simply email or direct message someone from your content team with the request. But while content needs may feel like one-off tasks, this approach is a great way to get subpar results and watch things fall through the cracks. So how can project managers assign content writing in the most effective, results-driven way? Read on for our guide to getting your content right.

Selecting Your Topics

First, you need to know your content needs. Sometimes, a project requires content that’s for internal use only. If that’s the case, you’ll still need to help define your assignment and ensure it’s engaging. But if content creation is meant for outside consumption, that’s where a clear strategy will most benefit you in the long-run.

If you’re looking to assign content that will drive users to you, you’ll want to start by deciding on which keywords will bring the right audience. There are a few different keyword search engines available to help you figure out the best phrases you’ll need your content writer to include in their copy. Incorporating those keywords in the title, meta description, first paragraph of copy and alt text of any images used are some of the best ways to use key phrases.

Just because keywords are important for optimizing content doesn’t mean they’re the most important when it comes to content marketing assignments. Ultimately, if users are brought to your content via an organic search, but they feel it’s generalized, poorly written, or simply unhelpful, you’ll lose them quickly and possibly permanently. Keyword searches can help you pick overarching topics you will assign to your content writer but take this further by brainstorming unique topics that your writer can go in-depth on. Optimizing the user experience will help keep readers on your page longer, and engage them better with content, which will make your overall efforts much more worthwhile.

Organizing Assignments

Once you have content to assign, you’ll save yourself time and confusion by structuring the way you assign it. Whether you already have a collaborative project management tool, or are looking to find one that will suit your needs, using this kind of software ensures transparency and clarity when it comes to assignments, team workloads, and deadlines.

Speaking of deadlines, it is critical that you set clear and reasonable deadlines when assigning tasks to content writers. If you are unsure of how long a task might take, you can always work with your writers to better understand how many hours will need to go into research, writing, and editing a piece. You can also look for a project management tool that includes time-tracking so that if you have repeated assignments, you can track how long they take and adjust future deadlines accordingly.

It is also essential that in the assignment phase, you include all of the necessary context and details a copywriter will need to produce the best content. This includes any keywords you want your writer to use in the piece, the audience the content is meant for, the desired length or word count, and any additional information you know you need the final product to include. The more details you can provide to your writer upfront, the more likely you’ll end up with what you need on the first try.

Optimize for Results

When your copywriter has turned in an assignment, the work isn’t quite over yet. Depending on your organization, either they or you will need to review the content to ensure it is optimized to the best of your ability. It might help you to create a standard checklist for optimization that your team uses to review each piece of content before it is published. This list should include things like confirming keywords are included in the right places within the content, making sure the content is mobile-friendly if that’s a possible platform it will be consumed on, adjusting URL structures, and linking to other relevant internal content where possible. A final review of content for SEO is a great way to make sure that all of the effort that goes into creating a great piece of content has the best chance of being discovered by the right audience.

Planning Ahead

If you’re overseeing a project that needs content produced over a longer period of time, you’ll do yourself many favors by creating a content calendar. Rather than simply addressing and assigning needed content as it comes up in your project timeline, creating a content calendar at the beginning of a project’s lifecycle can help you get ahead, make more strategic decisions about what content you need created, and can allow your writers to be ahead of schedule, making them more flexible if sudden changes are necessary.

Planning ahead also makes it much easier to create a strategy for writing content that links together. Back-linking existing content boosts its credibility and optimization, so building out a content calendar that has continuity while offering unique coverage can really help.

Finally, make sure you are analyzing the success of content as it is published. If you find that certain topics draw in the most readers, look to beef up your content around that topic so you are seen as the expert. Wherever you can learn from your success and duplicate it, you should.

As you find yourself manager content writers across your projects, adopting some of these best practices will help you get the most out of their work, and keep you on schedule, with mindful content choices that play into an overall project strategy.

Bismarie Plasencia is a Digital Marketing Manager at CROOW. CROOW is a project management tool that helps creative teams unite with project managers to get work done faster and more efficiently.

Ask an Expert

January 22, 2021

I have noticed on Linkedin, over the last few weeks, a number of posts by ‘experts’ in the area of PMOs

These individuals are promoting courses, presentations, qualifications in some cases, or are making some bold declaration about the past, present and future of PMOs but (and here is the really scary part) if you take a closer look at their career (as declared on their LinkedIn profile) they don’t seem to have ever actually run a PMO

Odd

Now one definition of an ‘expert’ is ‘a person who is very knowledgeable about or skilful in a particular area’, which actually doesn’t help that much I don’t think

Another definition is ‘having, involving, or displaying special skill or knowledge derived from training or experience’, which is even worse since it seems to suggest you can achieve the level of ‘expert’ by just taking a course

Was I an ‘expert’ when I just passed my driving test, was I hell as like?

When I look back now it actually makes me shudder to think how bad I was on the roads at 17 with my driving licence in my wallet and a self-belief in immortality wrapped in some knackered old Ford

No, the unwritten rule was a) take lessons b) take and pass your test and c) drive for 10,000 miles, survive, and then you were an experienced driver, still way off any definition in the area of ‘expert’

Take a driving theory test and match that with your unparalleled skill at Grand Theft Auto and you do not become a driver, you cannot drive a real car, and if you try to then you will be a menace to all others on the road

So, read a book on PMOs, take course on PMOs, know a PMO leader through your LinkedIn network, or attend a PMO conference, be able to spell PMO and sorry, but expert you ain’t

Why does this cause me concern?

Well, it seems that the rise of the PMO means that more and more organisations are seeking PMO training, consultancy, guidance and inspiration and they appear to be being offered all manner of such services from people who have never actually run a PMO, who have never designed a PMO, who have never built a PMO or re-engineered a PMO

All I ask, if you are in that category of seeking such help, is just check the true credentials of those you consider, and if they have never run a PMO (for real, not some simulation) then walk away

Find a real expert, with experience

Because it is practical experience that will deliver you the absolute best value

Your PMO, for your business, is just too important to get it wrong

Peter Taylor

http://www.thelazyprojectmanager.com

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).