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Project Management Essay On Managing Virtual Teams

Question

Task:
Greater Reliance on Virtual Teams: A New Trend in Project Management
Project management, like other industries, is no longer strictly bound to the confines of a typical office. Due to a number of factors—including greater connectivity, changing corporate values, and the rise of the gig economy—digital and remote teams are more common today than ever before. The negative global situation related to COVID-19 is not the only reason for this trend. In the last few years, more and more organizations have focused their energy on geographically distributed teams in different areas of the world. Many people believe that organizations use this trend to reduce costs by recruiting staff from lower-paid locations in general. The truth is that many production activities require local management. Many organizations have branches in multiple countries. The presence of the project manager on site was proven a long time ago as an effective approach. Since the surge in remote work is likely to continue even after the global health crisis subsides, project managers must find ways to reduce friction or inefficiencies that might arise.

Project Management Essay Task:
You are required to address the following questions by writing 1500 words in an essay format:

Question 1: By discussing FOUR benefits of virtual teams in project success, explain how a project manager can mitigate risks arising from a crisis (e.g. COVID-19 Pandemic) in scheduling, resourcing, and budgeting a project?

Question 2: To what extent do you recommend maintaining and empowering virtual teams even after a crisis (e.g. COVID-19 Pandemic)? How? (TWO Recommendations)

Answer

Introduction
As per the research on project management essay, the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic has transformed the existing business culture and practices for a number of firms across the globe. Many of the organizations have shifted towards increased remote work culture. Prior to the pandemic, the virtual teams were part of the projects. This is because of the advancements in technology and need of the firms to go global (Gallacher & Hossain, 2020). The employees and stakeholders belong to varied locations across the globe. It is expected that the trend associated with the virtual teams with further increase in the years to come.

The benefits attached with the virtual teams and the mechanisms to manage these teams are discussed in the project management essay.

Virtual Teams and Crisis Management
There are over 200 countries across the globe that has been hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. There are millions that are infected and millions have lost their lives. The outbreak of the pandemic in early 2020 possessed a great challenge for many of the firms and the project managers to handle the crisis situation.

The businesses that could afford business continuity through remote work culture could make sure that the crisis management was effectively performed. Three primary areas associated with a project include budget, timeline, and resources. The balance and management of the three elements was most critical for the Project Managers during the pandemic situation (Baudot & Kelly, 2020).

Benefits associated with the virtual teams were utilized to manage the three key areas and mitigate the risks associated with the Covid-19 pandemic. The virtual teams and their involvement in a project add to the overall cost-effectiveness. This is because the employees do not use the utilities otherwise offered and handled by the employer. For example, electricity, Wi-Fi, office tools and equipment, etc. are essential and provided by the organization to enable the resources to carry out the designated tasks. The employees working remotely use these utilities at their own expense which eliminates these costs from the project (Hodder, 2020). Many a times, the organizations are also required to arrange for the transportation and commute of the employees. These costs were also eliminated during the pandemic as the teams were working remotely. Such aspects can be used by the Project Managers to re-design the project budget and mitigate the risks around financial losses and issues of cost overrun.

Resourcing is another challenge that is associated with the crisis for the Project Managers. The benefits of virtual team include healthier work-life balance of the employees and the availability of the global talent pool. In the case of physical offices, the employees are bound by the time zones and there may also be certain issues with a few employees regarding specific shifts. Most of the employees prefer working in the general shifts. The Project Managers are left with limited resources to use due to such constraints and issues. However, with the involvement of the virtual teams, these issues are automatically resolved (Nash & Churchill, 2020). The resources do not need to commute to the office which saves them a lot of time. The resources can agree to work in other shifts apart from the general ones. Also, the employees are not required to be physically present in the office which leaves the Project Manager with the global talent pool of the organization. The Project Manager can choose from the large number of resources present in the organization database based on the skill set. There is certain flexibility and scalability added to the overall resource schedule with the absence of the need to commute to office. The work hours can also be adjusted as per the time zone and location. These factors improve overall flexibility and scalability of the resources. These lead to the enhanced work-life balance and it reflects on the productivity of the resources. It is observed that the resource productivity is negatively affected due to strict work hours and rigid schedule followed by the business organizations. However, the organizations that support the idea of virtual teams also provide flexibility and scalability to their employees (Ebrahim, 2015). The employee policies are usually relaxed and employee-friendly. The Project Managers can also utilize these aspects in the resource management for the project. Improved productivity and motivation of the employees can be utilized for enhanced performance.

Scheduling is another important aspect of the project. There were several schedule-related risks that emerged with the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Many projects were required to revise their existing workflows to deal with the crisis while maintaining the continuity of the project activities. A significant amount of time was lost in making these plans and policies resulting in the schedule variances and delays. Project managers can utilize the benefits of the virtual teams to manage these aspects of the project. Virtual teams in the project come with the benefits as increased availability of the employees. The resources in the virtual team can be distributed across different geographical locations and time zones. As a result, some or the other resources will always be available to carry out the project activities. This will improve the schedule handling and management in the projects. The Project Managers can re-develop the project schedule as per the resources present in the virtual team (Mustapha, 2017). The re-adjustments shall be made in such a way that the variance is reduced and the gaps created due to the crisis are also filled.

The overall benefits of the virtual teams can enable the project managers to effectively manage the projects. The different project areas as schedule, resources, and budget can be managed well with the involvement of the virtual team. The Project Manager can also carry out remote monitoring and control so that the performance of these teams and the outcomes of the project management activities are streamlined at all times.

Recommendations – Maintaining and Empowering Virtual Teams
Many countries across the globe are still suffering from Covid-19 pandemic. Some are in the second or third wave of the virus and the remote work culture is still followed by numerous organizations. It is recommended that virtual teams are maintained and empowered even after the crisis ends. This is because the global resources get the ability to work together and learn from one another in the virtual teams. Also, there are several years that may pass before the world gets back to the normal working conditions. The organizations get to experience cost-savings with the adoption of remote work culture.

There are various ways in which the virtual teams can be maintained and empowered.

  • Communication is the most important aspect to make sure that the virtual teams remain involved and participate in the project activities. The Project Managers and leaders shall make use of different modes of communication in the project. These shall include web conferencing tools, emails, discussion forums, reports, etc. With frequent communication and information sharing, the team development and collaboration will strengthen (Newman et al., 2019). The virtual teams will be able to take collaborated decisions and it will be possible to improve the performance and efficiency of the entire team.
  • Integrated project management and communication tools are present that can be used to engage and empower the virtual teams. Trello, for example, is a cloud-based tool that comes with Kanban board and interactive dashboard for sharing project details. These tools are also useful for the project managers and leaders to monitor the project activities. The use of these tools shall be encouraged in the project so that monitoring and communication in a project is always maintained. The members of the virtual team will always remain updated and their ideas will be included by the managers and leaders in the decision-making activities. It will promote the interest and engagement levels of the resources.

The Project Managers shall also make sure that the rewards and recognition is used even with the remote work culture. Appreciation emails shall be sent to the members performing well in a project. Monetary benefits based on the employee performance shall be distributed as per the organization policies. The employees performing well shall also be appreciated during the meetings and web conferences. Such aspects will make sure that the interest, engagement, and contribution levels of the members in the virtual teams improve at all times.

Conclusion
Business processes and operations have transformed to a great extend after the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic. Virtual teams were involved with the projects and organizations prior to the pandemic. The involvement and inclusion of these teams has further increased after the adoption of remote work culture by numerous organizations across the globe after the Covid-19 pandemic. There are various benefits that the virtual teams provide to the projects. These benefits are associated with the team members and also for the organizations. Project Managers can use these benefits for improved schedule, resource, and budget management. Communication and collaboration shall be maintained for effective virtual team management. Also, the integrated project management and communication tools must be used so that the engagement and involvement levels of the virtual team members are maintained at all times.

References
Baudot, L., & Kelly, K. (2020). A Survey of Perceptions of Remote Work and Work Productivity in the United States during the COVID-19 Shutdown. SSRN Electronic Journal. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3646406

Ebrahim, N. A. (2015). Virtual R&D Teams: A New Model for Product Development. International Journal of Innovation, 3(2), 01-27. https://doi.org/10.5585/iji.v3i2.43

Gallacher, G., & Hossain, I. (2020). Remote Work and Employment Dynamics under Covid-19: Evidence from Canada. Canadian Public Policy, COVID-19, Accepted versio. https://doi.org/10.3138/cpp.2020-026

Hodder, A. (2020). New Technology, Work and Employment in the era of COVID-19: reflecting on legacies of research. New Technology, Work and Employment. https://doi.org/10.1111/ntwe.12173

Mustapha, M. (2017). Identifying Factors That Impact Virtual Teams. Archives of Business Research, 5(2). https://doi.org/10.14738/abr.52.2685

Nash, M., & Churchill, B. (2020). Caring during COVID?19: A gendered analysis of Australian university responses to managing remote working and caring responsibilities. Gender, Work & Organization. https://doi.org/10.1111/gwao.12484

Newman, S. A., Ford, R. C., & Marshall, G. W. (2019). Virtual Team Leader Communication: Employee Perception and Organizational Reality. International Journal of Business Communication, 57(4), 232948841982989. https://doi.org/10.1177/2329488419829895

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