Modern technology has allowed the workforce to become increasingly remote, and this holds true for the construction industry.
The traditional setup in construction involves project managers traveling from worksite to worksite to checking employee productivity and project progress. This was highly inefficient, time-consuming, labor-intensive, and costly , but for many decades, this was the only way to manage projects. With remote management tools, however, project managers can do all of these tasks and more.
The convenience brought about by remote management technology is not without its disadvantages. Working with a lot of workers off-site can be overwhelming for project managers, especially those who are just recently adopting remote management. To ease the process, here are remote management tips for modern construction project managers.
Use a standard communication platform.
Most remote management issues stem from a lack of a well-defined communication method between the project manager and employees. You need to outline the best communication method for your team as well as the schedule and protocols that they need to follow.
Currently, there are a lot of management and communication tools available on the market. If you and your employees use multiple communication apps, you will never communicate with one another effectively. Ensure that all of your employees download the same application and know how to use them properly. Getting software licenses for a huge organization can be costly, but there’s almost always a period where you can try it out free before making the investment.
Communicate with your team daily.
Another important issue you need to consider is the frequency of communication between you and the team. There are several ways you can approach this depending on your management style and the needs of your company. But in general, daily conversations between you and your team is beneficial in more ways than you might think. Daily check-ins allow you to know what everyone is working on and how far along in the construction project they are. This is a critical step in ensuring that the project is finished on time.
An equally important part of daily communication is casual conversation with your team members. A simple question asking them how their weekend was or if they have plans for future events can build trust and rapport with team members. While this comes naturally in office settings, the dynamic is different when it comes to far-flung construction sites. That is why as a project manager, you need to be proactive in making remote workers feel like they are part of the company.
Talk less and listen more.
This is one of the most common tips in team management but it is doubly important for remote teams in the construction industry. Let’s face it. Construction work is not always a happy endeavor with team members patting one another on the back or planning grabbing beers for the weekend. Some aspects of the work are stressful and exhausting, not to mention the real danger everyone faces on site. There are bound to be issues, conflicts, and feelings of discontent. It is up to you to identify these situations and fix them.
Thus, it is important for project managers to talk less and listen more to team members. Oftentimes, remote teams may not be as open to talking about their work issues. It is your job to create an environment where it is easy for them to communicate with you. Ask questions and let them do the talking. Ask how they feel about work, or if the project requirements are clear. If applicable, ask about problems they have at home that may be affecting their productivity.
Meet your team face to face.
It may seem counterintuitive to suggest meeting with remote team members face to face when it defeats the purpose of remote teams, but hear us out. Socialization is actually a huge deal when it comes to remote teams. Finding the time to meet the people you work with a few times a year can help boost morale and build rapport.
One of the best times to visit the site is during performance reviews. It doesn’t have to be the formal kind either. Just a casual conversation while touring the site, giving them feedback about their work, and letting each team member tell you about what they think about your appraisal can do wonders.
Remote management in the construction industry doesn’t have to be difficult. Take note of these remote management tips and understand that even though your workers are far away on the site, making them feel like they are part of a huge family goes a long way.
Written in partnership with Chris Woodard, the Co-Founder of Handle, 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.