Since the pandemic normalized working from home, more and more companies are now hiring employees in completely remote roles. While this emerging trend has brought significant benefits, such as increased employee engagement and larger talent pools, there are some learning curves.
Working remotely successfully requires a robust set of soft skills. Here are a few of the traits that remote workers must cultivate in order to thrive away from the office.
In the office setting, there are several ways employees can assess the needs of their colleagues. For example, workers may notice differences in each other’s workloads and take on or delegate tasks to prevent bottlenecks. Managers also monitor employee performance and output and can notify individuals if they need to reprioritize their tasks.
Remote employees do not have the same opportunities to assess their coworker’s situations in their normal course of work. Instead, workers must demonstrate initiative to review work processes and make themselves available to support others.
Successful remote workers exceed their employer’s expectations by problem-solving and presenting solutions to anticipated obstacles. Showing initiative also means making the most of downtime. As gaps may not be immediately clear, remote workers should ask supervisors and colleagues how they can provide support rather than remaining idle.
Many remote employees work from their homes, cafes, or other settings that are not normally conducive to focused work. As these spaces can be very distracting, remote workers must have excellent time management skills to remain productive throughout the day.
Time management involves many soft skills, including planning ahead, being organized, and prioritizing tasks appropriately.
Time management is not only about remaining focused on work, but also about taking productive breaks. In the office setting, there are many natural breaks throughout the day, such as taking meetings or phone calls, going for coffee, or chatting with colleagues.
Remote workers who sit in front of their screens without reprieve are more likely to experience fatigue and reduced productivity. Workers who excel in time management also schedule restorative breaks that boost productivity in the long term.
Strong Communication Skills
Since remote employees are not working side by side with their supervisors and co-workers, clear and consistent communication is key for building trust and promoting collaboration.
Remote workers must possess strong writing skills in order to clearly share their progress and ideas through text-based communications, such as email and instant messaging.
Working remotely also necessitates a strong understanding of technical communication methods. Workers must know how to navigate virtual meeting tools, including video conferences and interactive dashboards.
Remote workers must also be mindful of virtual social norms, which may differ from communicating in person. For example, remote workers should respond to asynchronous communications in a timely manner.
Also, as text-based messaging lacks highly important non-verbal cues, remote workers should ensure their written communication is clear, positive, and respectful.
While most remote employees work in teams, they effectively complete their jobs alone. This can be difficult for people who need external motivation to stay on task or make progress in their work.
Self-motivated workers are able to oversee their projects with minimal supervision. They demonstrate key project management skills, such as creating and organizing milestones, tracking multiple tasks, and starting new projects without direction.
Remote workers who show self-motivation garner trust amongst their colleagues and managers as they are dependable and do not require active monitoring. These employees also make the team more efficient, as others do not need to spend time reviewing their work.
Remote work is only possible due to technological innovations. However, these technologies can change very quickly, and remote workers must be able to pivot accordingly. For example, companies may migrate to new platforms or change service providers. This requires workers to familiarize themselves with new systems.
Company software is also upgraded constantly, which can include new features that workers must learn how to leverage to improve their productivity. Remote workers who are open to learning and experimentation are better at adapting to these ever-shifting work environments.
Remote work may also necessitate flexibility in other areas, including taking on tasks outside the normal scope of work to support the team. Workers must also be able to work around technical challenges as they arise. For example, planned or unexpected outages can impact a company’s normal workflow. Skilled remote workers manage to make progress on their tasks despite disruptions.