Journal

15 Practical Tools to Work Remotely as a Project Manager

As a creative individual, there is only so much time you can take sitting behind a desk before that ticking time bomb goes off. Being hands on during a project does not always mean that you have to be in the building, conference room or office at the time of the conversation to stay on top of your responsibilities. On the contrary, it's super doable to travel across the world and project manage right from your computer (WiFi necessary).

Previously, we featured a spotlight blog on a former triber, JJ Ruescas, who is a Development Operations Specialist. A main component of his job is to improve the flow between software developers and IT specialists on a daily basis.  When asked what it would take to successfully perform the necessary tasks of a PM remotely, the three main components included communication, reliability and productivity. 

Communication

With communication being a key necessity between you and your clients/staff (especially while in another time zone), it's important to be prepared before you leave. Reach out to your cell phone provider and check to see what kind of international roaming plans may be available that will not break the bank. Additionally, there are a series of apps that will help you communicate easily while connected to WiFi, as well as offline with 3G/4G coverage:

 WhatsApp is popular for communicating overseas. You can audio and video call (for free)! It only uses your plan's data, so it's a great way around the system to not get charged for calls outside of the U.S. 

Proven to be perfect for not only online video conferences, but also webinars, screen sharing and collaborative conference rooms. So many companies are getting on board with this program and using best practices to keep productivity.

Organize various team conversations per project, use direct messages for smaller convos, share videos, pictures and documents, as well as call via this innovative app.
 

A lead contender with Slack, Basecamp provides dual functionality with messaging, as well as project management to meet all of your companies needs, regardless of time zone. Accountability, organization and clear project visibility all in one, so everyone is on the same page. 

Skype is the veteran free calling service. It's been around for years and continues to be a leading company as it stays up with the times of messaging, audio and video calling. Skype's still got it!

Another popular program, Asana is a project management tool to keep your team's timeline on point, making sure every employee is doing their part and hitting deadlines with important clients, no matter where you are. 

Reliability 

Basically, answer your emails, respond in a timely matter and hit your deadlines! The biggest factor in working remotely is being able to use your time wisely so that your employer doesn't feel the need to look over your shoulder throughout the day to make sure you are actually working. Yes, this means that little blurb on your resume that states you excel in, "timeline management," needs to be utilized now. If you're having trouble spending your time wisely, or even staying focused, check out these time tracking apps:

Great for first time freelancers. With your free account (upgrading offers more incentives), you get to try out creating proposals, invoicing and time tracking with your clients. 

At an all inclusive one-time flat fee, the Pancake App won't change with your number of clients. Utilize their project snapshots, easy estimates and tasks & milestones to manage your work! (try the demo here)

Get your planning done here so you can have more time to be creative. With their 30-day free trial, you can access expense reports and time sheets as well to stay on track. 

Productivity 

As mentioned in our last post, productivity is a key factor in making sure you are on top of your to-do lists and hitting deadlines as expected while out of a physical office. Since you'll be on your computer most of the time, there are a few really unique and resourceful apps/extensions that will help you stay on track and block distractions while trying to be productive:

Are you a sticky note person? Google Keep helps you take your sticky notes virtual and keep them all in one place. Add and drop your thoughts, even use your microphone feature for a hands free experience. And it's available wherever you are!

Evernote is another veteran app that has proven over the years to stay up to date with our current organizational needs. Remember everything, share when needed and access on all devices for easy reference. Find a plan that works best for you!

To keep yourself centered, this extension helps you to chill out in-between tasks, even for just two minutes! The timer starts when you log on, and resets if you move your cursor. So relax, and listen to some calming waves for 120 seconds.

When you know you only have 25 minutes before the timer goes off, naturally you work a bit more efficiently. With the Pomodone app, it is used as an extension to your web browser and can connect to various apps like Slack, Evernote and Asana for accurate time tracking per task.

This cool extension takes over for the regular homepage and shares an inspirational quote, as well as focuses on a main task to complete per day. Sometimes it's easier to start with the most important thing first. Plus, they share a new beautiful landscape photo everyday from a different place around the world. 

This 30-minute timer literally allows you to see your plant grow from a seed to a tree as you focus on work. But, if you can't keep your focus and start browsing over sites (their monitoring system can tell), it will wither away... along with your potential green thumb I guess. 

With the large array of help aids available to you all over the internet, as long as you make yourself available to utilize them, there is no reason why you shouldn't be able to work remotely as a Project Manager. Maybe your next step in trying to transition is the negotiation phase with your present employer? Best of luck :)