Remote working reduces project control, say project managers

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42% report a loss of control with remote workers, even more so for IT projects

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11 February 2019 | 0

Project managers whose project teams work remotely have expressed concerns over lack of control of projects.

In a survey of project and programme managers, some 42% of project managers believe they have less control of projects when project teams work remotely, with just one in 10 believing that remote working gives them more control of projects. This figure falls to just 8% among IT professionals.

The survey was carried out for PM Summit by Pan Research among 331 Irish project managers, covering sectors such as IT, finance, pharma, architecture, engineering and construction.

While more than half (52%) of respondents believe that remote working increases project success rates, almost one in five (19%) believe that remote working reduces project success rates. This is even more pronounced among IT project managers, with more than a fifth (21%) of project managers believing that remote working may hinder project success. 

Almost three quarters (72%) of all project management professionals believe that remote working increases efficiency, falling to 69% for project managers working in IT roles.

Access to remote working was high across all industries, with 84% of project management respondents utilising remote working, and unsurprisingly, the IT sector is where remote working is most prevalent with 95% employing this approach.

The results showed a disparity in attitudes to remote working between more senior project manager leads and their team members. The study found that two thirds (65%) of more junior project team members believe that remote work increases the success rate of projects. In contrast, half (50%) of senior project managers believe remote working is good for project success rates.

The vast majority (85%) of project team members felt they can work more efficiently when working remotely, however, just 70% of senior project managers report that remote work allows them to be more efficient.

“Our survey found discrepancies around attitudes towards remote working from project managers and team members,” said Raymond Poole, CEO, PM Summit. “It seems that while team members find remote working to be a positive experience, more senior managers report challenges around managing teams and projects. Clearly, many feel that remote working causes control issues. The key to improving this is clear communication, an established structure including timelines and defined goals. These practises are the core of managing remote teams properly.”

“We were surprised to see that IT personnel, given that this group is most likely to work away from the office, was less positive about the efficiency, control and project success rates of remote working compared to all project managers, said Poole.

“The survey highlights some concerns about remote working, and this is something that we’ll address at this year’s conference.”

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