The Skills You Need to Be a Successful Remote Employee
While remote work adoption was already growing by 10 percent every year and it was expected that the majority of organizations will go remote by 2025, the pandemic sped up the adoption rate and forced companies to go remote five years too early.
Over 74 percent of companies intend to permanently shift at least some of their employees to remote work post the pandemic. As a result, companies will be readily hiring employees who not only have the desired expertise for the vacant job position, but also the core competencies to succeed in a remote role.
For employees, this means upskilling to acquire the important remote working skills in order to stay relevant and get ahead in their career.
Here are the essential skills of a successful remote work employee.
1. Organizing and planning
When you work from home, there are no colleagues to keep you motivated or managers to monitor your progress. You have to maintain discipline yourself through constant organizing, planning, and scheduling to ensure all of your work gets finished on time.
You need to identify your priorities, create a task list for all the work at hand, estimate the total time required to finish the tasks, and execute them. It can take you some trial and error to figure out how much time it takes to finish a particular task. After all, things that might have taken a long time in the office may go quicker when you are working from home, and vice versa.
2. Technical knowledge
Remote employees use a wide number of tools to manage their work and communicate with their team. Instant messaging, project management, video and web conferencing, and document sharing tools are just some of them. While remote employees don’t need to have in-depth knowledge about every type of technology and tool, they need to be comfortable accessing the digital tools that the company uses on a daily basis — with little to no assistance. At the same time, they should feel confident in trying out new remote work tools.
More importantly, remote employees should be reliable, flexible, and prepared in case things go sideways and they experience issues while using digital tools.
Collaboration is easy for employees when they are in an office and their colleagues sit physically close to them. But when you are working remotely, collaboration as a skill becomes all the more important and challenging as you need to stay constantly connected to your colleagues and managers who might be working from different locations and time zones.
To collaborate successfully, remote employees need to build trust with their team members and have routine check-ins to ensure everything is going as planned. They should also try to get to know their coworkers on a more personal level to build camaraderie.
While instant messaging and video meetings are common and useful for remote teams, most remote employees prefer asynchronous communication that does not warrant a real-time response and allows for everyone to contribute to the discussions according to their own availability.
But that means, by the time your colleague sees a message you sent, you may not be available online to clear out any doubts that they may have. Therefore, it is crucial for remote employees to be as clear, succinct, and direct as possible when sending out messages to team members.
In a remote work setting, every message, email, and call needs to be effective to improve productivity and save everyone’s time.
Adaptability is an essential skill that all remote employees should have to manage the constantly changing remote work environment.
Remote employees have to constantly learn to work with new team members, collaborate with a geographically dispersed team, adapt to new technologies and tools, manage work in case the internet goes down or laptop stops working, and keep an optimum work-life balance. While many consider adaptability as a natural skill, it can also be steadily acquired by understanding the numerous requirements of your job and creating solid work schedules that take into consideration your home and work needs.
Remote employees should be able to work as part of a team just as well as work independently. In a remote team distributed across different locations, effective teamwork becomes the key to success. Teamwork essentially includes communication, respectfulness, conflict management, and the ability to listen and understand your team member’s opinions.
Companies can build an ideal collaborative work environment where employees have access to the right digital tools that they need to collaborate and communicate, but employees can only make the most of those tools when they have the right teamwork skills.
Remote employees need to have enough self-motivation to get things done without the need to be constantly monitored. In an office setting, your manager would walk by your desk to get updates or even help you if you are stuck. But in a remote work environment, you need to remind yourself about the things you need to get done every day.
Ideally, remote employees should be self-starters who don’t require a lot of direction. They should have the ability to set their own goals, estimate timelines, and achieve those goals in a timely manner.
Remote work is the future
Work is going to be a lot different in the post-pandemic world. While employees might not be strictly working from home, they will still end up spending more and more of their time working outside the office. As a result, companies will be looking to hire individuals who can work remotely in a professional, effective, and productive manner. Hence, employees need to understand the changing digital culture and develop skills that can help them become a successful remote worker.