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Managing projects remotely with an international team: tips and tools

Text: Joana Costa

Managing projects remotely with an international team can be quite challenging, but with the right strategies and tools, it is definitely possible and easier now than ever! Read more and find some tips on how to manage your international team remotely based on our experience with the Youth Committee.

  1. Set clear goals and expectations:

Defining goals for each Youth Committee project was crucial for us to remain motivated, focused and productive. Additionally, it is now easier to assess the progress of each project since we have set specific goals and deadlines, which enables us to have something to compare with and keep track of.

  1. Use communication tools: 

Effective communication is essential for remote teams. Keep in touch with your team members and ensure that everyone is up to date with the projects’ progress. In the Youth Committee, we use 4 different communication platforms:

  • Zoom: as video conferencing platform for our meetings;
  • Whatsapp: WhatsApp is a widely used communication tool that has become popular in both personal and professional settings. In our case, we feel that messages get easily lost in a Whatsapp conversation, group chats can quickly become overwhelming and it is difficult to manage and to keep track of all the messages and ensure that everyone is up to date on the latest information. Additionally, it is more difficult to separate personal and professional life if Whatsapp is connected to our personal phone number. So, we decided that we would use Whatsapp only for urgent or more informal communication;
  • Slack: We use Slack as our centralised platform for communication. Slack works for us because it allows us to create different channels for different projects and teams. This makes it easy to organise conversations and keep discussions focused on specific topics, rather than cluttering up a single channel. Each channel can have its own members, notifications, ensuring that the right people are involved in the right conversations; 
  • Email: We use it less frequently, but it is nevertheless an important way of communication, particularly when communicating with the European Choral Association Board and team;

Youth Commitee’s Zoom meeting from Christmas 2022

  1. Establish a calendar and deadlines:

Just creating a calendar won’t make things happen, but this is a fundamental initial step in order to have a clear understanding of each project and its corresponding tasks and deadlines. After that, it is essential to make an effort to meet these deadlines, and in many cases, this will require scheduling multiple meetings;

  • Schedule meetings: This can be quite challenging due to time zone differences, availability and cultural differences. Effective communication, planning and flexibility are the key to overcoming these challenges.
    • Doodle can be a huge help to schedule meetings with people with busy schedules and working in different time zones. You can add times for the meeting and let participants choose what works for them;
    • Make sure you set up clearly in which time zone you are scheduling the meeting. 
    • When teams are working across different time zones, it is important to keep in mind that the best time for some team members may not be the most convenient for others. This is where communication and flexibility becomes crucial.
    • We usually give a deadline for filling out the doodle, so we then have the time to check what is the best option and prepare the meeting in advance.
  • Shared calendars: Once the meeting is scheduled, use shared calendars to keep everyone on the same page, and ensure that deadlines are met. Online calendars, such as Google Calendar, are a great option for this purpose. Alternatively, if online calendars are not used, it is crucial to have an agenda or a  designated place to schedule and track meetings as well as the links to access each meeting. In our case, some of us use Google Calendar but some don’t, so we always share this information on Slack as well.
  1. Divide tasks: 

With the Youth Committee, we divided the team into projects based on their interests and assigned a project captain for each one. I believe that when individuals have clear responsibilities and deadlines, they are more likely to take ownership of their work and ensure it’s completed on time.

In my opinion, it is essential for team members to then keep each other updated on their tasks, especially when working remotely. Remote work can often lead to a sense of isolation from colleagues, and sharing regular updates on tasks can help maintain a strong sense of connection with the team. Additionally, keeping everyone informed about ongoing tasks can help prevent duplication of work and ensure that team members are aware of each other’s progress. During our meetings, we always allocate time for each team to update the others regarding the progress of their respective projects.

  1. Manage your meetings effectively:
  • Set up an agenda for the meetings –  This is essential for keeping the meeting focused, saving time, increasing productivity and providing accountability. We usually have the agenda of the meetings in advance and everyone can suggest topics if they feel it’s necessary or if they want to talk about a specific topic.
  • Write the minutes of the meetings and share it with everyone – Sharing the minutes of a meeting ensures that everyone is kept informed of what was discussed, even those who were not available to attend. Make the minutes available in a place where everyone from the team can access it. In every meeting, we have someone responsible for writing the minutes.
  • Start on time: Start the meeting on time to respect everyone’s time.
  • Encourage participation: Encourage participation from all participants by asking for their input and feedback. This helps ensure that the meeting is productive and effective. While muting your microphone when not speaking can help manage background noise, we find that during open discussions, it works better if all participants turn on their microphones to stimulate a natural conversation. However, this approach may not be suitable for every team or discussion and you should adjust accordingly;
  • Be present: While it may not be simple, avoid multitasking during the meetings and give the meetings your full attention. This will help to enhance productivity and effectiveness.

Our first live meeting in Bonn, last year (2022)

  1. Schedule live meetings:

 Even though most of the time you will be working remotely, you should be able to have some live meetings with your team members. This is crucial because they provide an opportunity for team members to interact in real-time and connect on a personal level. In virtual settings, it can be challenging to build a strong team culture, but live meetings can help bridge that gap. 

As Youth Committee, we have at least two live meetings per year and we meet each other in many of the European Choral Association events (like EuroChoir, Leading Voices, Europa Cantat Festivals, …) and we always feel recharged and ready for the work that needs to be done after those meetings 🙂 

These are just a few of the ideas and tools that we have discovered through our experiences, but we believe that there is still much to be explored on this topic. If you have any thoughts or additional ideas that you feel may be useful, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We would love to hear from you.

Note: This article is not intended as an advertisement for any particular platform. We use these tools in our daily work and we are presenting them here because we believe they may be useful in your work as well. However, there are numerous other platforms available that can lead to similar outcomes.


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