Recently I attended a talk titled: How to Create and Manage Remote Project Teams by Wayne Turmel and I thought I would write up my top 5 things to keep in mind when you come into this situation.
1.Use Web 2.0 technologies
In order for your team to use these web based technologies they need the right equipment to do their jobs (high speed access, laptop, cell phone …). Without the right tools they will not be able to complete their job.
Pick the right technology for managing web meetings, documents, communication, timelines and if necessary timesheet tracking. Not only is it important to have the right technology you need to train your team members and make sure they are using it correctly.
2.Pick the right team members
Granted, many times you don’t get to pick your team, but if you do, focus on people that are self motivated, have good communication skills and are result driven. By picking people that are open go-getters it will help increase the chance of having a smooth project.
3.Determine your team's purpose
With team members all over the place you need to define your team’s purpose and set the ground rules. You can do this with a Team Charter. The Team Charter is a document that defines the purpose of the team, how it will work, and what the communication expectations will be (maybe each team member needs to update the project site daily on what they are working on).
4.Reward Performance and give feedback
Have you ever been on a team and feel that they forgot about you? Multiply that by 10 when you have offsite team members. To help combat this, you the PM, need to set up regular reviews of your team members and if possible try to call them up once a week to chat.
If your budget allows it, setup a rewards system, but make sure it is fair for all team members. Many times these rewards are setup for project goals and it will help keep the project on track.
5.Incorporate some team bonding
If you have the budget the best way to do this is to have a several day face-2 face meeting that includes some offsite fun. If there is no budget, then it could be something as simple as having a page within your project site with photographs of the team members (maybe you mix it up and ask them to include a photo from grade school), a bio, and links to things like their pages on Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter or even YouTube.