Six Skills Remote Workers Should Focus On Developing
Remote work has now become an ordinary part of the reality of modern business. While some white-collar professionals still might never work remotely in their careers, that seems likely to be an exceptionally rare occurrence. That means that becoming an effective remote worker is now of great importance.
Since remote work differs in major ways from the traditional, office-based mode of work, certain skills assume greater importance when working remotely. Remote workers should focus on improving these skills in particular. Here are the six skills every remote worker should prioritize developing.
Working from home often means greater independence. But this extra flexibility has its downsides, too. When you’re not in the office, the temptation to get distracted by non-work activity can be strong. Distractions are more intrusive at home. Noise (whether from roommates, children, the dog, or even a neighbor mowing the lawn) is often an issue.
In addition, an office environment creates an atmosphere oriented toward productivity. The presence of coworkers, all busy at their job, helps generate the appropriate mindset for hard work. All that goes away when not in the office. The net result is that professionals who lack discipline are likely to struggle when working from home.
Time Management Skills
Time management skills are always vital. But with remote working, their importance grows. The issue is that remote working usually means there are no set hours when work must be focused on. While that can be an advantage, it does mean that employees have to rely more on themselves to get their projects done.
That’s where time management skills become indispensable. The simple ability to get started on a task and finish it efficiently will prove crucial for remote workers. People who procrastinate or simply allow tasks to drag on longer than necessary will fall behind. That problem will only grow in significance over longer periods.
Written Communication Skills
Meetings over videoconferencing programs such as Zoom are certainly a staple of the remote work experience. However, almost no company holds more than one meeting a day. When employees are not in the same physical space, communication over written channels (such as email or Slack) inevitably rises in importance.
In these circumstances, remote workers who cannot get their ideas, questions, and concerns across well through writing will not keep up. It’s not about having perfect grammar, necessarily. Rather, what’s important is having a fluent, adaptable communication style that can overcome the misunderstandings and lack of nuance that commonly arise when the subtleties of body language and facial expression are not accessible.
While remote work might seem to be all about the ability to effectively work independently, that is only half of the truth. In reality, virtually every business job depends on a group, team-oriented approach to tasks. Paradoxically, the physical separation inherent to remote work makes collaborative skills more important.
That’s because it’s all too easy for individuals (or small cliques) to become siloed from the team when remote working. Far too often, people fall out of the loop, losing connection to the plans and goals of the group as a whole. Only strong skills in working closely with others and maintaining a team-focused perspective can solve this problem.
Facility With Digital Tools
Remote work became possible because of advances in digital technologies. Knowing how to use the digital tools on which remote work depends is obviously important. While this might seem like a point so obvious it could be ignored, it’s sometimes the most basic things that prove the biggest barriers to success.
Typically, remote work requires a few basic technologies, such as videoconferencing programs, project management software, and company-specific communication platforms. Knowing how to use these programs is a must. Skills with using digital tools can be particularly an issue for older workers or those who are new to white-collar employment. Fortunately, with sustained time and effort, the necessary skills can reliably be acquired.
Plainly, remote work lacks the set structure of traditional modes of work. That is both remote work’s greatest strength and weakness. The impromptu, improvisatory nature of remote work means that employees cannot set themselves on auto-pilot. They must be ready, for example, to deal with colleagues who may be working from distant time zones.
Remote work is still evolving. Unlike with traditional office work, there are no decades of history and habits to provide clear, established practices. That means further changes are still coming, which in turn means professionals cannot allow themselves to become set in their ways. Adaptability and openness to change are critical.
Every white-collar professional should want to be able to advance in their career while performing at a high level in their job. Today, a vital aspect of achieving these linked goals is being an effective remote worker. No one, however, is born with the ideal set of remote work skills. Instead, it’s necessary to develop those skills over time. The skills outlined above are the ones to focus on
By: Carlton Ryan