The pandemic (coronavirus) has changed the world we used to know. Apart from damaging human lives, it has impacted every industry, forcing millions of businesses worldwide to revisit their approach towards handling projects and overall work. Such impacts have tested the capabilities of businesses to run their projects effectively. While many businesses and project managers and their sponsors adapted to the new work home environment effectively and efficiently, many businesses faced substantial delays or even cancellations.
This dynamic shift forced businesses to create new, adaptable, and creative ways to work around. Whether it be employing technological developments, elevating systems, or reconsidering their business’s infrastructure, the project management future – albeit drab and indefinite at times – still looks promising; the new age will likely redefine the industry and project management processes as we know it.
Many enterprises have moved to remote work permanently or for an extended period of time, including Careem, Infosys, Salesforce, Google, and Facebook. With the COVID-19 being still here, a U.S. technology research firm’s recent survey states that the cumulative figure of employees working permanently from home is all set to double in 2021 globally. The percentage of remote workers will increase from 16.4% to 34.4%.
Considering the situation, what type of crucial changes do you expect to see in the forthcoming years? And how are project managers going to bear the cost of it due to the coronavirus pandemic?
Project Managers Will Need to Upgrade Their Skills
Put simply; it will be the survival of the fittest. If you want to keep the boat afloat, then you’d have to keep up with the constant changes and challenges. You will have to optimize the projects and not simply cancel or delay the progress. And to achieve it effectively, you will have to stay motivated to learn and upgrade your skills for yourself and the business’s success and betterment.
Considering the current situation of COVID-19, learning new skills and upgrading the existing ones will become crucially important more than ever, especially now when we find ourselves moving towards the new-normal post-pandemic landscape.
Whether it be polishing soft skills like day-to-day communication with the internal team or clients, upgrading project management skills like creating a contingency plan under a short time span, or enhancing hard skills, such as getting a strong grip over data-driven systems, since most of us are still working from home, project managers have to identify and embrace different levels of expertise.
Flexible Working Hours Will Reign Supreme
If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that project management businesses can cope perfectly fine with a home-based setup. And this may likely stay like this even after COVID-19 considering that work from home is workable for most employees and employers.
From improved flexibility to increased productivity levels, COVID-19 has only sped up the implementation of flexible working schedules, forcing the project management industry into an unprecedented shift towards remote work worldwide.
However, it also came with its own challenges. After all, work from home completely changes the traditional workplace dynamics, making it somewhat difficult to handle work-based communication and processes.
In a traditional setting, spontaneous collaborations, meetings, team sessions, brainstorming, and other project management tasks work better as all the team members work under one roof. Hence, moving forward, project managers will have to think about unique and improved methods to incite this same level of teamwork even when they aren’t working in the same room.
Communication Is and Will Be the Key
Project management in these times is not just limited to the team’s surveillance to achieve desired targets. It also allows the whole team to build a trust factor by exploring new ways to get optimal results while working remotely.
To achieve this, while working remotely, one thing is crucial, and that’s communication. To bring the same level of engagement, enthusiasm, and productivity, project managers would need to engage and maintain a high level of communication through various channels: interactive video meetings, virtual gatherings, follow-up emails, or one-to-one calls.
To do so, project managers can use online communication tools, such as Slack, Zoom, or Skype, to maintain a high level of employee involvement. Furthermore, it will become more important than ever to check on employees’ mental health and emotional well-being.
Technology Will Play A Decisive Role
As we go through this pandemic, this is also an ideal time to re-invent and simplify the project management working practices to improve and address the business’s needs. To do so, project managers can increase technology use by simplifying and automating some of the project processes. To put it simply, no one would have thought that working remotely will be a thing and become a new norm in the future, but it did. Technology has revolutionized workplace dealings and processes. Artificial Intelligence is one of the game-changing factors. It is likely to leave a massive impact on how admin-based processes are being run and managed, saving a huge amount of time when scheduling, data management, data analytics, or any other tactical planning-based tasks. As per Gartner’s research in 2019, project management would be majorly replaced by artificial intelligence, automating most decisions instantly without any humans involved.
It will ease up the workload on project managers, allowing them to streamline and automate the processes while focusing on other core areas of project management.
This pandemic has left a disastrous effect on the project management industry; however, it has also provided businesses with the opportunity to stop, reflect, and reconsider their project management strategies from now on.