Remote work is becoming increasingly popular. It offers the opportunity for greater flexibility and freedom, and it can be a great way to advance your career. In fact, many remote work opportunities are popping up at all levels of the product management field.
As a result, remote product managers have become more common than ever before. Being a remote product manager has many opportunities, but it is also a complex challenge.
The ability to work remotely as a product manager allows you to find a job that fits better with your personal life. It also presents you with the opportunity to grow personally and professionally.
In this blog post, we explore how you can build a successful virtual product management career anywhere in the world, regardless of company size.
What Is Remote Product Management?
This is a career in which a product management team works from a distance by collaborating with team members and key stakeholders through digital tools.
Remote Product Managers build and manage products with minimal face-to-face interaction with their colleagues, often communicating with them primarily through digital tools like online chats, video conferencing, screen sharing, and online documentation.
Remote Product Managers usually work from home or from co-working spaces. Hiring fully remote managers helps avoid the costs that come with having employees on-site. Yet most companies opt for some form of hybrid solution between fully remote and fully on-site working.
Remote working conditions allow companies to hire a diverse group of talented individuals no matter where they live. Product managers tend to have a wide range of skills, such as technology, leadership, design, business strategy, and analytics, that allow them to step outside of their core area of expertise. This makes product managers highly valuable members of any organization, so they can afford to choose the work environment that suits them best.
Benefits of Being a Remote Product Manager
A remote product manager can work from anywhere in the world, which gives the employer a lot of flexibility as to where they can hire.
Plus, they avoid paying higher costs associated with office space, utilities, and travel expenses. Remote managers can work when they’re at their most productive, without having too many time-consuming meetings and sad desk lunches in the office.
Additionally, you can avoid the daily distractions and stresses of the corporate world. Working from home ideally gives you the peace and quiet you need to stay focused on your work, and you have a better chance of working effectively if you can work at your own pace.
Difficulties of Being a Remote Product Manager
Working with colleagues in different locations, countries, or time zones can be a challenge. You may not be able to collaborate as easily as you would in the office. And you may not be able to resolve issues as promptly as you would in person.
You may also be less likely to build mutual trust with your colleagues. So you’ll have to be more intentional about communicating, building relationships, and resolving conflict.
Three Ways PMs Thrive with Remote Work
Product managers who thrive with remote work have a few key skills and habits in common.
Product Managers need to have great communication skills, particularly true for remote product managers. They must communicate effectively, regardless of the software or channel, or tool they’re using. They understand the importance of building mutual trust and relationships, even if they don’t go to work every day to meet their team members.
As agile leaders, they’re also skilled at giving and receiving feedback. Product managers who thrive working remotely build and receive feedback regularly, both from their colleagues and customers.
And lastly, they are extremely good at settling disagreements and problem-solving. They know how to identify a challenge and come up with several potential solutions to that challenge. They know how to investigate the best solution for the problem, weigh the pros and cons of each option, and make a decision.
How to Build Relationships Intentionally While Working Remotely
Working in a virtual office can create a lot of challenges for remote product managers. It also provides opportunities to strengthen relationships in ways that are not always possible face-to-face.
You can build stronger relationships by organizing group outings, such as going to a sporting event or a trip together. You can also arrange online quiz nights or a joint week-end discussion on Fridays.
However, there are a number of things you can do if you want to take the initiative and become a senior product manager or a product management lead.
To make your team members feel more comfortable working on a project with you:
- Be present and generally available
- Be proactive, helpful, and patient; offer support where needed
- Communicate more rather than less, and promote direct communication within and between teams (rather than being a facilitator)
- Keep sales data and administration up to date
- Make as many of the working materials available as possible to your team
Build a Solid Toolbox for Product Managers
To be an effective remote Product Manager, you’ll need a heavy set of tools up your sleeve to be able to effectively communicate with your teams and help your company succeed.
For task management and collaboration, use:
For creating an effective product roadmap, use:
For idea management and prioritization, use:
For customer feedback and management, use:
Instead of a digital whiteboard try digital PM Tools. You’ll be surprised how many of them you will find essential in your day-to-day collaboration.
Remote work is a great solution for many people who are not a fan of office life or are looking to reduce their commute.
In many cases, working remotely is a quite similar experience to working in an office. The difference is that you see your team members on the screen instead of in person. The added benefit is being able to work from your home or anywhere else you want to go.
If you’re considering a career in product management and want to see if you would be a good fit for a remote product manager position, we hope this article gave you some insight into what it might be like and the skills you’ll need to succeed.