In the digital age, boundaries fade. No longer confined to office cubicles, professionals globally are seizing the reins of remote work. But what about remote product managers?
For career-changers eyeing the tech arena, a swirl of questions and uncertainties emerge. “Can I transition smoothly into a remote product management role? What skills and qualifications do I need? And most importantly: “Can product management truly thrive in a remote environment?”
In this guide, we’ll explore the world of remote product management. From the variety of benefits to the challenges you’ll face, we’ll give you the edge when venturing into this exciting career field.
Read on to learn about these topics—you can use the clickable menu to jump to the section you need:
- Can product managers work remotely?
- How to become a remote product manager
- Remote product management courses
- Key takeaways
1. Can product managers work remotely?
The statistics gathered over the past few years prove that yes, product managers thrive remotely. According to a report on the state of product management published by ProductPlan, 67% of product people would choose remote work over daily office visits, revealing a dominant preference, especially among older demographics.
In terms of compensation benefits besides salary, the report further indicates that one in four product managers finds flexible work hours to be the most appealing perk of this work mode.
Although, more recently, there has been some general pushback from big companies like Amazon, Meta, Zoom, and Goldman Sachs for employees to return to the office, the broader trend toward remote work remains robust:
- 12.7% of full-time employees exclusively work from home in 2023, while 28.2% favor a hybrid model.
- By 2025, a predicted 22% of the U.S. workforce will operate remotely.
- 93% of employers continue with remote hiring processes.
But what does this seismic shift towards remote work mean for aspiring product managers who want to work from home (WFH), on the go, or any other non-traditional location?
How will the benefits and challenges practically impact your day-to-day workflow and long-term career growth?
Benefits of remote product management
The first thing you’ll notice when you begin to work remotely is the significant changes in your daily routine. So, let’s explore the most notable advantages of being a remote product manager:
- Flexibility: Freedom to work from any corner of the world.
- Cost savings: No overheads. No travel. Pure profit.
- Productivity: Work without interruptions from office chit-chat or unnecessary meetings.
- Work-life balance: Greater autonomy to balance professional and personal commitments.
- Global talent pool: The world’s best, at your fingertips.
- Custom workspace: Design your perfect productivity haven.
- Results driven: It’s about what you achieve, not the clock.
Difficulties of remote product management
Yet, remote project coordination also has its hurdles:
- Communication: Digital exchanges lack face-to-face nuances.
- Collaboration: Aligning diverse teams is challenging.
- Digital distractions: Daily notifications and alerts can derail focus.
- Relationship building: Virtual rapport often lacks the depth of real-life relationships.
- Digital tools: The constant development of new tools brings steep learning curves.
- Tech dependency: Glitches and outages may disrupt the workflow.
If you’re new to the field or transitioning, understanding these dynamics might make remote product management seem a bit daunting at first. That’s why it’s even more important to equip yourself with the right skills and tools to succeed in this increasingly digital field.
2. How to become a remote product manager
Now that we’ve traversed the landscape of remote product management, it’s time to chart your course. First on the list is acquiring the necessary skills for success. But remember, professional development isn’t just about ticking boxes. In the context of remote work, it’s also about adaptability and honing your craft to resonate in a digital environment.
Remote product manager skills
There’s a vast array of skills in a product manager’s toolkit, but these five are most relevant for remote work:
- Technical expertise. All PMs need to interface efficiently with development teams. In remote contexts, this interaction often relies heavily on digital tools. While coding isn’t essential, understanding the technical nuances ensures you can communicate ideas effectively and play a pivotal role in the product’s technical realization.
- Understanding of UX design. Irrespective of the work environment, a keen grasp of user experience is fundamental. For remote product managers, this involves ensuring that digital products cater to an increasingly online user base, aligning with their preferences and behaviors in the digital sphere.
- Data interpretation. In today’s digital-first world, data drives decisions. A PM must adeptly sift through a barrage of metrics—from user behavior analytics to task completions. For those in remote roles, the ability to parse and interpret this data becomes paramount, offering insights that guide product direction and ensure alignment with user needs and business objectives.
- Critical thinking. Product managers always navigate complex decisions. With geographical disparities and varied time zones, remote PMs must also evaluate how these factors intertwine with product decisions, ensuring strategies are effective and applicable on a global scale.
- Communication skills. While all product managers must be excellent communicators, remote environments amplify the need for clarity and precision. Whether through emails, instant messaging, or virtual meetings, maintaining the product vision requires impeccable articulation in the digital workspace.
Remote product management tools
As a remote product manager, you’ll also need to become familiar with a set of specialized tools.
Again, let’s focus on the five most important ones:
- ProductPlan: A roadmapping and collaboration tool that allows you to create, customize, and share unlimited roadmaps while tagging teammates, posting updates, and asking questions within the platform.
- ProdPad: A comprehensive product management platform that facilitates Lean roadmapping, idea discovery and management, and customer feedback management.
- Trello: An effective project management tool that enables you to manage multiple projects and organize tasks using boards, lists, and cards with built-in automation for optimal workflows.
- Slack: A communication tool designed to facilitate private instant messaging, channels and group chats, audio notes, video calls, file sharing, and workflow automation, integrating with thousands of other apps and tools.
- FullStory: A Digital Experience Intelligence (DXI) platform utilized to capture and analyze quantitative and qualitative data, allowing product teams to improve the product experience for users.
Looking for a more comprehensive list of product management tools? Take a look at our detailed guide to the top tools to get all the information you need.
3. Remote product management courses
Another great way to extend your product management knowledge base and launch or advance your remote product management career is to enroll in the right course.
Here are three of the best courses available, which are all delivered online:
Recognized as one of the best tech schools, CareerFoundry’s online product management program blends expertise with flexibility.
Ideal for beginners and career changers, this course can be completed in an intensive 3.5-month period or over a flexible 6-month period. Both study modes ensure that participants become job-ready product managers. Key focus areas include Agile techniques, user and market research, backlog prioritization, design intricacies, and team alignment strategies.
Delivered online via their bespoke platform, students will intuitively be set up for remote product manager roles, as they’ll be using remote tools and how to launch products online.
CareerFoundry’s dedication to transformative education is evident: having reshaped over 7,000 careers spanning diverse backgrounds and with a notable 90% graduate placement rate. This commitment is further solidified with a job guarantee.
You can find out more about the program as well as whether remote product management is for you by getting in touch with a program advisor.
BrainStation’s course immerses students in product strategy, Agile techniques, and Lean development practices.
Delivered online, the curriculum is complemented by live sessions with professionals, fostering real-world understanding. Students collaborate on group projects, enhancing practical skills.
In addition, the BrainStation Slack community provides valuable networking opportunities. Flexibility is key, with program durations ranging from 5 to 10 weeks based on individual pace.
Another noteworthy option is the Product School’s Certificate Program. This comprehensive online course, extending across 32.5 hours of live, instructor-led lessons, delves into contemporary PM essentials—from product strategy and Agile methodologies to wireframing and prototyping.
Beyond the core curriculum, students get a unique chance to work on a tangible product, moving from ideation to launch, cementing their understanding, and offering a compelling portfolio piece.
4. Key takeaways
Remote work presents both opportunities and challenges for product managers today. This article emphasized the importance of acquiring key remote product manager skills such as strategic thinking, market research, and UX design.
In addition, mastering remote-specific skills like virtual collaboration tools and time management software is crucial. Lastly, seeking specialized training, such as online courses, can significantly contribute to success in the digital realm.
If you’re interested in online learning but unsure if product management is the right fit for you, check out our free 5-day product management short course.
Or, if you’d prefer to read a bit more about the world of product management instead, check out these articles: