Team members are often in the same physical location—for example, the same office building or meeting space. This tool and technique is called co-location. Co-location enables teams to function more effectively than if they're spread out among different localities. Many times on large projects, the project manager will make provisions in the project budget to bring the team together at the same location. (It's difficult, but not impossible, to manage project team members who are not physically located together.) One way to achieve co-location might be to set aside a common meeting room, sometimes called a war room, for team members who are located in different buildings or across town to meet and exchange information.
Multiple locations can also be a big time waster for you as the project manager and for your team members. If some team members are located in one part of town and another set of team members are located across town, you'll find yourself in the car (or the bus) driving back and forth to make face-to-face contact and get status updates. Conducting team meetings also becomes a hassle as one set of team members or the other must drive to another location (or both to a central location) to have a meeting.
Our busy, conflicting schedules and differences in location don't always allow for face-to-face communication, so email is the next best thing. I'm a huge email fan—it's one of my favorite forms of communication. Email can keep the information flowing when you aren't able to meet in person, and it can even help take the heat out of conflicts that might escalate if you were meeting one on one. However, email cannot reveal tone of voice, facial expressions, or body language. Sometimes those nonverbal cues are more important than what's being said. If you don't know your team members or stakeholders well, I recommend meeting with them personally whenever you can. Once you've established good relationships with them, you should be able to balance the use of email and personal interactions and know when it's time to call a face-to-face meeting. In reality, it's often difficult to get your team together physically. A good solution in lieu of having people relocate is videoconferencing or conference calling. Team members scattered across the country all have access to the telephone, and it's relatively easy to find a time everyone can meet over the phone. Videoconferencing is the best option if it's available because it allows intonation and nonverbal behaviors to be part of the communication process.
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What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.