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May 20, 2020

Five Ways to Increase Engagement of Virtual Teams (Part 1 of 3)

Note:  This blog series is based on one of our new “Work from Home Series” of LPM tools and templates.

In a survey of nearly 400 project management professionals from a variety of industries, Dr. Penny Pullan asked participants to identify the greatest challenges they faced when working remotely. Far and away, the single greatest challenge was “engaging remote participants” (76%).  When asked what actions would help virtual team members be more engaged and productive, survey respondents often gave the following answers:

  1. Regular, clear communications, without lengthy gaps in between;
  2. Clear roles and responsibilities;
  3. Improve virtual team meetings;
  4. An open team culture; and
  5. Shared vision, outcomes, and a sense of purpose.

CommunicationPlan_May 2020The rest of this article offers practical tips to address each of the recom­mended action steps identified above.  It draws on material from our extensive online library of LPM tools and templates.

Action Step 1:  Regular, clear communications, without lengthy gaps in between

Using a Communication Plan is critical when team members are working remotely to ensure regular, clear communications.  The Communication Plan shown at right, taken from our online library, identifies who on the team is engaging in the communication, and with whom they are communicating.  It also describes the information that is being communicated, and when and how that communication is to be delivered.

 

 

Matter Plan_May 2020 Action Step 2:  Clear roles and responsibilities

Using a Matter Plan is a simple way to determine who is responsible for which tasks and the deadline for each task.  The precise format of a Matter Plan varies depending on the needs and preferences of the users.  The Matter Plan shown at left is excerpted from our online LPM library.  Additional columns could be added to include each timekeeper’s hourly rates, estimate fees for each task, and estimate total fees. 

Many project managers find it useful to visualize project schedules in the form of Gantt charts, which are bar graphs that show the start and finish dates for each task of a project.  A Gantt chart for the example shown at left would look like this:

Gantt Chart_May 2020Note: This image was taken from our LPM tool “About Gantt charts.”  Many free programs can be found on the internet to generate charts like this. This sample was created with free software at www.tomsplanner.com. However, for legal projects it may be simpler to create a chart in Word or Excel or even on a handwritten document

A Gantt chart can be quite useful to team members, since it shows tasks and deadlines in a form that clarifies what must happen first, and when certain tasks might conflict with one another.

In Part 2 of this blog series, we will present valuable tips on how to increase engagement by improving virtual team meetings.

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