Lots has been said about what makes a good remote project manager.  I’ve even written an article or two about it.  Good communicator, strong listener, organized professional, etc. etc. etc.

Now let’s turn the table.  What makes a good remote project team member?  Is it the same qualities?  Different qualities?  Let’s examine.

I’ve led remote projects for many years now and some have gone well and others…well…not so well.  Of the ones that didn’t go well, not all were necessarily anyone’s fault.  But if I look at the ones that went well because of the team or went poorly because of the team, some of the characteristics of a good remote project team member start to become apparent.  For me, these three are key:

Good communicator

I think this trait falls under any project professional – probably just about any successful professional, period.  But being a good communicator is absolutely critical when you’re part of a geographically dispersed project team working on a common solution.  You must be dedicated to keeping everyone informed – especially the project leader – but also be a good listener as well.  Listener to directions from the project manager and listener to the needs of the customer you’re interacting with because often times the team members become the face the project customer sees the most…depending on the project, of course.

Remote team members need to be good communicators

Leader, but direction follower

The remote project team member must be a confident leader because they’re often out there working on their own – either at their home office doing remote project work like design and development or onsite with a customer meeting on requirements or testing.  At the same time, though, they must be in compliance with the goals and mission of the project – they must be willing to always follow the direction of their leadership…and in this case it’s the project manager.

Initiative taker

Finally, they must be an initiative taker.  If that’s a proper phrase.  If not, I made it up and now it is.  The remote project team member is working on their own and following directions, of course, but sometimes things need to happen right now – in real time – and there isn’t always time for a team meeting, a phone call, or a pow wow.  It just has to happen.  And the experience, leadership and initiative all begins and ends with that remote project team member to help ensure the project keeps moving forward.  They must be able to make some on the spot key decisions at times – and of course the project manager will need to be ok with that.