The pandemic has pushed many businesses towards remote work and collaboration, now and for the foreseeable future. It’s sped up an ongoing shift in workplace environments – the number of people who work remotely at least once per week has grown by an astronomical 400% since 2010.
To succeed and be productive working away from the office, employees and leadership alike (including future hires) need to have certain skills in their arsenal. Here are five of the most important.
Written and oral communication are valued skills in any office space, even more so when you’re working remotely. With everyone spread out geographically, you’ll be writing a lot more messages, along with video chatting and attending virtual meetings throughout the day. As such, everyone on your team needs to be comfortable discussing ideas and finding solutions to issues no matter the platform. Pay special attention to the little things like the way you address your emails (depending on the recipient) and spelling and grammar to avoid unnecessary miscommunication. Also, make sure to proofread everything before you hit send. Autocorrect is a wonderful feature, but it can take a typo and transform the entire meaning of a message.
Pandemic or no pandemic, teams need a way to stay in touch and communicate with each other on projects and tasks. For this purpose, collaboration tools such as emailing, document sharing, instant messaging (i.e., Slack) and videoconferencing (i.e., Hoot Meetings) applications are essential. Everyone in your organization should not only have access to them but know how to make full use of their features.
If your team needs help choosing one, we’ve compiled the best collaboration tools on the market.
When you’re working remotely, you’ll be facing more than a few distractions, from noisy neighbours to demanding children. Without anyone around to push you and keep track of your productivity, it’s important to filter out the non-essential and stay on task. To maintain focus, you can try investing in noise-cancelling headphones, minimize clutter in your workspace and take short breaks when necessary to decompress. If you’re really having a hard time, there are many productivity apps out there that will chart your time.
Working remotely provides you a level of freedom and flexibility you can’t find working in an office setting. But it will also require you to adapt and overcome new challenges, whether it’s working with colleagues in different time zones or dealing with internet or login issues. For the former, you’ll need to establish deadlines and times for communication that let you meet goals, without fracturing work relationships. For the latter, you’ll need to be prepared and have plans in place to fix these issues when they crop up. Ideally, remote employees are chameleon-like, deftly striking a balance between home and work priorities.
This may not be the first remote work skill that comes to mind but it’s no less important. Working remotely can be very emotionally taxing. In fact, more than half of remote employees say that they feel disconnected from other employees and 22% say that unplugging after work is one of the biggest hurdles they face. In short, being physically separated from your team and co-workers is difficult.
As an employee, you need to understand this and keep things positive. Consider how working remotely makes you feel as well as the impact it’s having on your colleagues. If you’re in a leadership position, schedule frequent check-ins to keep everyone on the same page, both from emotional and productivity standpoints.
When people are allowed to return to the office, many will still choose to stay remote, if given the option. Having the right mix of the above skills will ensure that these employees are successful in their roles. Moreover, companies will need to adjust their hiring processes in the future to find the right candidates.