Project Management

Embracing Virtual Work Culture

Carleton is an Associate Director Portfolio Management in Queensland, Australia.

I live in Brisbane, a subtropical city on the east coast of Australia. In 2017, the remains of tropical cyclone Debbie dumped an extremely heavy amount of rain on the area around the city. The Brisbane River burst its banks, flooding the central business district. The water stayed high for four days, limiting access to offices and resulting in teams having to work from home.

By comparison, the COVID-19 pandemic will force many of us to self-isolate and work from home for a far more extended time.

If, like many project managers, it is the first time you’ve had to assemble a virtual team in a hurry, then the surprise of switching to online behavior and still maintaining a productive project can be challenging. Here are a few lessons I took from the 2017 flood situation that may be useful.

1. Prepare before you go. In the crazy panic to get ready for a shutdown like this, it’s very easy to forget some basic precautions. If your team members don’t have an appropriate monitor or keyboard at home, they may need to take their work equipment home with them. Institute adequate stock control to ensure you know where that shiny new monitor and keyboard went. Much later, when all the chaos is over, you will want to know that everything has been returned.

Think about the health and safety of team members. Are they physically able to carry that heavy monitor …

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"Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils."

- Berlioz