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Remote Work for Professionals and Managers: Project Management and Communication Protocol

So MD just walked us through how important it is to communicate with clarity.

One of the best ways to ensure you're communicating effectively is to set up systems for communication-intensive activities.

This can apply to a variety of activities your team does.

In this course, we'll focus on examples that do a good job of illustrating the core concepts that we're discussing. We'll go through two of these.

The first is project management.

Now, when it comes to project management, it's likely your team has its own way of delegating work, assigning tasks, and making sure they get done.

When you switch to remote work, you need to make sure that the system is airtight.

The reason for this is that when you aren't running into people in the office, you don't have as many built-in touchpoints.

That means it's easier to fly under the radar, and that comes with pros and cons.

The pros are that you might have a bit more autonomy to do things the way you like to, and fewer interruptions that jolt you out of your flow state.

But a major con is that it's easier to get off track, particularly if you have something you're likely to procrastinate on or that involves bottlenecks from other colleagues.

The more complex the team dynamics are, the more challenging a distributed workflow becomes.

By setting up an airtight task management system, with explicit task owners and explicit deadlines, your team can operate more autonomously and still stay coordinated.

Project management software like Asana or Jira makes this really easy because you can create tasks for literally anything.

But the only system that works is the system your team sticks to.

The joke at my old company was that Salesforce was this all-powerful software that was going to solve all our problems, and we set up a sophisticated system for it, but the problem was, no one of us was using it the way we were supposed to, so it ended up being a huge waste, and if you've ever seen a Salesforce bill, you know it doesn't come cheap.

So if you haven't already, set aside some time to sit down with your team and figure out what works best.

Once you've settled on something, make sure to get everyone's buy-in, because that's the only way this will work.

And then commit to it with every fiber of your being.

If your team does have a system in place but it isn't working as well as you'd like, now is a great time to confront that fact and come up with ways to fix it.

Another piece of low hanging fruit when it comes to systematizing workflow is establishing a protocol for your communication channels.

To illustrate this, let's look at a phenomenon we call inbox inflation.

Consider an in-person meeting, where you hash through a bunch of topics quickly and efficiently.

Now conduct that same meeting over email, all of that back and forth, filling up your inbox –this is where you should be imagining that exploding inbox gif.

Another painful situation is when you get stuck receiving and assigning deliverables through instant messaging apps, which are notoriously difficult to organize and sort.

I can't tell you how many hours I've wasted sifting through chats to find a specific piece of information.

The key here is to use the right communication tools for the right circumstances.

Email is great for laying out complex processes and static information that doesn't require additional input.

Slack, on the other hand, is great for situations where you want a conversation, like brainstorming or collecting feedback.

When it comes to assigning work and making sure it gets done, that's where the task management software we discussed earlier really shines.

And for scheduling meetings, scheduling software that shows your availability upfront helps prevent a lot of the unnecessary back-and-forth about who's free when.

The theme here is finding ways to communicate without concentrating everything through a single channel like email.

So your action item is to have a conversation with your team about what communication tools are appropriate for what types of communication.

Once you have that conversation, build a system around it so that you know what to expect and where to find it.

Again, there are plenty of other elements to your collaboration dynamics that you can systematize.

Ultimately, the more you can automate your processes, the more organized and efficient your collaborations will be, and the less room there is for human error.

So I really encourage you to spend some time thinking about your daily interactions with colleagues and clients.

Figure out what can be codified, what can be automated, and what can be simplified and streamlined.

The goal of your systems is to reduce cognitive load and ensure that nothing is slipping through the cracks.


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