The modern workplace is becoming increasingly remote due to the improvements in communication and collaboration technology, and the construction industry is no exception.
For a long time, project managers needed to visit each construction site physically to check on work progress and address concerns. This was time-consuming, inefficient, and incurred a significant transportation expense. Nowadays, advancements in smartphones, computers, and cloud technology have made it possible to collaborate and do management tasks offsite.
With a low level of digitization in the construction industry, remote technology is one of the most welcome changes. However, the efficiency and convenience brought about by remote management also bring in new challenges for project managers. Working on multiple projects with multiple teams from a long distance can be overwhelming to the management team. Here are some tips on how to manage remote construction teams effectively.
1. Stick with one communication platform
Communication is the top priority when dealing with a construction team on-site. If you have several construction projects in multiple states, how you handle communication is crucial to success. Without a well-defined communication platform, team members may end up contacting you in different communication channels. Important messages may get lost and end up causing delays.
To prevent this from happening, use one communication platform and stick to it. There are several communication tools currently available on the market. Ideally, you want a communication platform where you can organize discussions per team, per department, or per project. You should also look for a platform where you can initiate voice or video calls in case chat messages are not enough.
2. Have an open line of communication
When working with remote employees, you have to compensate for the fact that you won’t meet often in real life. There is no coffee maker or photocopy machine at which to bump into each other and engage in small talk. For this reason, building rapport can be difficult, and project managers need to create opportunities for team members to feel connected.
In a remote environment, having an open line of communication is crucial to building rapport. Simply discussing work issues does not make a cohesive team dynamic. Instead, create a channel where you and your team members can engage in casual, non-work conversation. Make a genuine effort to get to know your team members. This way, you and your team members can have that water cooler effect despite the long distance. After all, working remotely can be lonely and a casual team chat can improve your social connection.
3. Celebrate your team’s achievements
Celebrating your team’s milestones is one of the best ways to motivate your employees. Recognizing their achievements brings a sense of fulfillment and meaning to the work they have done. However, doing so can be difficult when it comes to remote teams.
Writing about team members in company-wide blog posts and featuring them on your own website are some of the best ways to highlight their achievements. Not everyone in your company, especially upper management, gets a chance to know workers in the field so showcasing them however you can is a big help to their career.
In addition, you can plan a virtual party where you can celebrate with food and activities in real-time. Of course, planning a party in separate locations is difficult, so keep it simple. For example, you could all simply get pizza delivered while having a virtual conference. The possibilities are endless. After all, the goal is to relax and have fun.
Managing remote workers is a challenging feat for construction project managers, but it’s not rocket science. If you handle your communication well, make your remote team members feel included, and take the time to build trust and rapport, you will have a productive remote construction team.
About the Author:
Patrick Hogan is the CEO of Handle.com, where they build software that helps contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers secure their lien rights and get paid faster by automating the collection process for unpaid construction invoices.
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