Though workers are beginning to spend more time back in a traditional office environment, many still want to maintain the flexibility gained during the pandemic to work remotely when it’s more appropriate or convenient. This desire for a truly hybrid experience extends to project management, where project teams and stakeholders face a growing need to strike a similar balance within processes and workflows as new technologies and new ways of working change how activities are carried out.
Looking at your organization’s evolving approach to planning and executing projects, remember that a shift toward new ways of doing things doesn’t always mean that the old ways should go out the window entirely. Whether it’s how your group comes together to collaborate on project budget development or the systems you use to maintain stakeholder engagement, a willingness to blend new and old methods gives you wider access to options that can lead to the perfect strategy for your unique situation.
Consider your communications strategy. Project teams, end users, sponsors, and vendors have moved a good portion of their interactions into the digital space. That could include anything from posting project updates on an intranet portal to holding group planning sessions on Zoom. But though online tools can help to centralize communications and provide access to everyone regardless of their location, don’t overlook the value of impromptu discussions when face-to-face opportunities present themselves. You don’t need to forego one in favor of the other, and in fact the digital and analog realms can work well together. Does your team maintain an online presence for project information and resources? Add a banner to the site advertising in-office hours so your stakeholders know when they can drop by. You’ll still have easy, on-demand access to your project data while continuing to offer that human touch many people appreciate.
Mixing newer workflows with the processes and tools of the past can also give you an edge when recruiting for positions on your project team. Interviews with job applicants are easily conducted through web conferencing platforms, but you may want to hang onto the longtime practice of bringing your top candidates in for an onsite visit, too. Showcasing your organization’s commitment to innovation and collaboration gets a boost when you add in the career growth and development opportunities associated with in-person mentoring, access to resources that are more difficult to digitize—textile and raw material samples, first-hand exposure to the production area, etc.—and integration into a welcoming and supportive company culture.
A blended approach also helps to build resilience to protect your team against future disruptions. The abundance of technology tools project teams and their stakeholders use today is both a positive and occasionally a negative. Yes, people appreciate the ability to review project documents from wherever they are, or to hold simultaneous discussions in Slack and other collaboration platforms. But when a system suffers an outage or a platform doesn’t deliver a good mobile experience, productivity quickly turns into frustration. You can smooth out these bumps with a multi-prong approach to your project management practices. By implementing tools to monitor those new technologies, people can be alerted to trouble and avoid downtime caused by system glitches. If the primary collaboration tool is unavailable, for example, you can redirect everyone to a fallback system, such as an alternative tool or old-school email. The availability of redundant systems provides numerous benefits. Your team remains productive while waiting for normal processes to be functional again, plus users are already familiar with the old methods and can quickly revert to them without significant time lost for training or installation.