What’s trendy in project management, you ask? As the creators of a project management tool, we spend plenty of time researching and answering that question.

Project management is ever-changing, and keeping up with trends can be tricky. That’s why we’ve worked to compile the top project management trends of 2023 to help you improve your project management skills.

Table of contents

  1. Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation
  2. Working around flexible schedules
  3. Emotionally intelligent leadership
  4. Change management
  5. Hybrid project management
  6. Improving collaboration in multi-generational and multicultural teams
  7. Project management software trends

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Project Management Offices (PMOs) have evolved from whiteboards and hand-drawn project maps to advanced software solutions and automation in just the past few decades.

Because project management is continually evolving, project managers must learn to adapt. Many of these trends come down to project management teams adjusting to a changing workforce of increased remote work and automation. 

We’ve compiled the top seven trends for 2023 and will fill you in on how to use them to your advantage. 

1. Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation

AI is everywhere lately. With solutions like ChatGPT constantly making headlines, project managers are beginning to wonder how to incorporate AI into their workflows. 

ChatGPT is still relatively new, but project managers should know its capabilities and watch for potential growth.

According to Forbes, 83% of executives say AI is a top priority for their business.

Automation is another growing trend for project managers to keep tabs on. Though automation is not new, the capabilities of automation, integrations, and AI can converge to create fantastic benefits for project managers. Let’s take a look. 

How project managers can master this trend 

Project managers can use ChatGPT to summarize reports, answer project questions, or set up an initial timeline or project budget. Currently, these solutions won’t be incredibly advanced, but as the technology progresses, these shortcuts could be even faster. Learning to use AI tools is the first step. 

Automation is always valuable for project management, but the big trend you should be aware of in 2023 is hyperautomation. Hyperautomation enhances existing automation not only with AI but also through the use of:

  • Machine Learning (ML) for Risk management, resource allocation, schedule management, and more. 
  • Robotic Process Automation (RPA) for automating mundane tasks and more accurate data entry. 
  • Document Automation for status reports, compliance standards, and meeting minutes. 
  • Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to extract text from images, infographics, and handwritten notes.

Learning how and when to automate your tasks is necessary for this generation of project managers. By automating simple tasks, you can focus on the big-picture work and complete tasks more efficiently. 

2. Working around flexible schedules

Despite some leadership teams calling for employees to return to the office, the majority still want to work from home.

Per Pew Research Center, 60% of workers want to work from home all or most of the time.

Working from home creates a unique dynamic for project managers overseeing dispersed teams. The good news is it’s not impossible to do — a lot of us have been doing it since 2020. The significant change to watch for is the range of flexible work increasing.

Remote work doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, but at the same time, there is a growing call for four-day workweeks and flexible scheduling. And in a tight labor market, managers will need to adjust their expectations to retain employees.

Seven in ten employees intend to ask their employer to consider a four-day workweek this year.

How project managers can master this trend 

Continued remote work and the four-day workweek trend may impact the project management industry more than any other. A shorter remote workweek calls for more efficient project planning, tighter deadlines, and adjusted project scope.

Project managers should embrace flexibility and understand that fewer working hours don’t necessarily lead to decreased outputs. In fact, a four-day workweek trial in the UK showed that shortened workweeks could improve productivity

In a world of remote work and flexible schedules, the project manager’s role is increasingly dependent on seamless, asynchronous communication and task delegation. Tools that can help you track time and activity will be invaluable. 

Our advice? Don’t fight it. Managers who refuse to adopt flexible work schedules may be left behind, while more accepting and flexible leaders thrive. Focus on the positive and remember that asynchronous work and shortened workweeks can increase productivity, prevent burnout, and improve collaboration

3. Emotionally intelligent leadership (EQ)

Leadership skills are crucial for project managers, and the most recent movement in leadership is emotionally intelligent leadership, or EQ.

The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report shows an increasing demand for emotional intelligence in leaders across the globe.

EQ is all about using empathy, self-awareness, and motivation to lead. Modern leaders realize that empathetic leadership is what retains and inspires their team. In fact, IMPACT found that workers are 400% less likely to change jobs if their manager has a high EQ.

As a society, we’re moving past authoritarian leadership and overworking employees until they burn out. If you’re wondering how important EQ is, look no further than the leadership of Twitter lately. 

Twitter’s workforce has dropped by 80% since Elon Musk took over and publicly shattered the fundamental rules of emotionally intelligent leadership

Leading with empathy and working with your team’s strengths can boost your productivity and improve your employee experience.

How project managers can master this trend: 

Managing projects is about more than just completing your tasks on time — it’s about how you lead your team. Managing people is not as black and white as project timelines and budget management. That’s where EQ comes in.

Project managers need to understand how their team works to assign tasks and pinpoint strengths and weaknesses. Depending on how employees respond, managers should adjust leadership styles, deadlines, and team culture. 

One practical tip for managers is to check in with their team about work-life balance and learn about their stressors. Use your 1:1 meetings for more than just project talk, and try to check in on their mental health and overall satisfaction. 

4. Change management

The difference between project management and change management.

Change management is a project management style with a focus on people management and responding to change while achieving project completion.

It’s not a revolutionary new style, but it has been more popular lately among leaders. Adopting change management principles will be a success factor for the next generation of project managers.

Remote work has certain benefits but results in occasional communication breakdowns and scheduling complications. With change management, teams can handle projects smoothly without disrupting deadlines.

How project managers can master this trend 

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, managers need to be flexible. One way to master change management is to break up projects into smaller chunks so managers can pivot and act quickly to adjust timelines and budgets.

How often do projects go exactly as planned? Managers who strengthen their change management skills can modify projects rapidly and adapt to the many disruptions that may arise. 

The ability to remain flexible, receive feedback from internal and external stakeholders, and adjust project constraints are crucial.

5. Hybrid project management

Another change we’ve seen in the market is businesses trying different project management approaches simultaneously to find the perfect balance. 

A Hybrid project management approach often combines traditional project management with other methods like:

  • Agile – The popular people and change management-oriented solution that prioritizes delivering working software over robust process documentation.
  • Waterfall The phase-oriented project management method where work flows sequentially through various design, development, and testing phases.
  • Scrum – An iterative project management approach that emphasizes quick deliverables.

Recently, managers have been adjusting their Agile approach to envelop some of the traditional methods they used before Agile rose to popularity. Let’s take a look. 

How project managers can master this trend 

With a hybrid approach, teams can better customize their project management strategy to their strengths and industry. Instead of focusing solely on Agile, teams are working to focus on flexibility to drive project success. 

To master this trend, try different hybrid approaches and see which combination works best for your team and has the best results. 

Try using a traditional method of project management like Waterfall for simple tasks and Agile or Scrum for more complicated or urgent projects.

6. Improving collaboration in multi-generational and multicultural teams

Company culture is rapidly changing as baby boomers age out of the workforce. The next generation views work differently, and managers are scrambling to keep up with the changing demands.

"A worldwide team never sleeps. We're always making progress somewhere, and there's always someone around, ready and able to help out." 

Maarten Billemont
iOS Client Architect
Hubstaff

How project managers can master this trend 

This trend relies on the emotional intelligence of project managers. It also ties into the ability to manage a remote team with flexible schedules, as remote work is a growing priority for younger workers.

Striking a balance is crucial, so managers can’t forget about their more experienced employees.  Enter flexible work and self-determined working. Giving your team a choice between remote and in-office work can help you keep pace with this trend without losing your on-site culture. 

Leading a multicultural team can be demanding, but the ability to hire the best talent across the globe is worth the challenge. Project managers must increase their cultural intelligence and create a respectful environment to help a multicultural team thrive.

We saved the best for last: project management software trends. Finding the right PM tool is crucial, and new tools are constantly appearing on the market. You need a tool that can keep up with the latest trends.

These are the top trends in project management software this year.

  • Advanced integrations that can enable teams to use multiple tools without manually transferring data. 
  • Built-in collaboration features allow teams to keep communications in one place. 
  • Heightened cybersecurity to adhere to compliance standards and prevent cyber threats. 
  • Features supporting Agile and hybrid project management like Sprints, Kanban boards, and Stand-ups. 
  • Productivity measurement to help managers keep up with their team’s progress without manual check-ins. 

How project managers can master this trend 

The benefits of a solid project management system go without saying. PMOs need software to help with planning, automation, and progress tracking.

Finding the best tool to manage your team’s projects isn’t easy. Countless tools can do the job, but how do you find one tool that caters to your industry and workflow? 

We suggest taking advantage of free trials, demos, and other resources to find the right fit for you. 

If you already have a project management tool you love, that’s great too. Just be sure to keep up with current trends, explore product roadmaps, and share feedback with the community that helps your growing needs. 

Using Hubstaff as a project management tool 

You didn’t think we would miss the opportunity to plug the project management tool we’ve worked so hard to perfect, did you?

With Hubstaff Tasks, project managers get a quick, concise picture of how their teams work so they can make informed decisions that fuel productivity.

Using Hubstaff as a project management tool.

Here are a few ways project managers can use this Hubstaff add-on to boost their workflows. 

  • Agile workflows: Set up boards, add team members, and start maximizing agile workflows. Utilize drag-and-drop Sprints, timelines, and Kanban boards to visualize work in new ways.
  • Automation: Create project Timelines and set up custom workflows so you can move tasks forward with a click. No more manual Task creations and assignments. PMOs can create recurring Tasks to automate admin work, save time, and stay focused. 
  • Real-time job costing: Sync Hubstaff Tasks with Hubstaff’s time tracking software to get real-time job costing data. Set estimates and see project spend, hours worked, and more. Then use your findings to scope projects more effectively. 
  • Reporting: Pull detailed reports through Hubstaff. Set KPIs and track your progress toward them. You can also see how many hours team members worked and what they spent their time on. Know the ROI of every project at a glance and uncover roadblocks to hit goals faster.
  • Communication: Master asynchronous collaboration with automated Stand-ups so you know what your team is working on without asking. Stand-ups help you better plan and staff projects, eliminate unnecessary meetings, and ensure work is on schedule.

Final word

Mastering these trends can help project managers lead with success. But are these project management trends here to stay? Time will tell, but one fundamental truth is here to stay: the best project managers remain flexible and adapt to their ever-changing environment. 

We want to hear from you. Are there any key trends we’re missing? Let us know in the comments below.

Category: Project Management