As the work landscape has altered drastically, so too has the need for us to adapt to new ways of working, particularly if we’re remote. There are numerous challenges to working from home / the garden shed / the local hub including distractions, managing our time, loneliness, and motivation.
Luckily, more and more companies have recognised this and are supporting their employees in numerous ways such as providing technology and software packages to aid communication and inclusion, training programmes for their managers on how to manage remote teams and providing wellness support.
Remote work comes with many positives including flexibility, community and family engagement, increased productivity, and not having to commute. Apart from having the experience and skills needed for the role in question, employers also need to trust the employee will be accountable, reliable, and comfortable working well in a remote environment. Subsequently, companies are looking for the following skills, all of which can all be honed!
Ability to Work Independently
Gone are the days when your manager is sitting at the desk next to you, ready to step in when you need help. As many remote teams are deployed across time zones, asynchronous communication is the order of the day and response times can be delayed so having the ability to work in a self-directed way is vital. Remote working needs people who are self-sufficient, resourceful and with the ability to problem-solve issues as they arise, from the internet being down to deadlines looming with colleagues tucked up in bed. Being able to plan ahead for such contingences will help with how you structure your work day.
Excellent Written Communication Skills
The nature of remote work means that at least half of all communication with colleagues is done through writing rather speaking. Communicating through email, instant messaging apps such as Slack, chat functions on video calls are all par for the course in the remote world. Clear written communication, regardless of the platform, is a necessity and proof reading before pressing send is essential. Also check tone and style, depending on what platform you’re using and who you’re communicating with. A general rule of thumb is that instant messaging is less formal than email.
Self-Motivation and Time Management
The traditional structure of a manager and a team physically around you is not available as a remote worker so being self-motivated and organised by creating your own schedule and routine will keep you focused. Time management tools such as the Pomodoro Technique can help with segmenting time and ensure you get breaks (which are essential!).
Block out time in your calendar as focus hours, where you work on one single important task at a time. Turn off notification settings in emails and instant messaging, Slack, etc. We’re all different so try various methods to find what works best for you.
Noise cancelling headphones are a great investment (if your company doesn’t provide them) as they help to block out background noises such as children, dogs, alarms, traffic, other hub members, etc., and let you focus purely on your work. For those times when the dog won’t stop barking, don’t worry about it as colleagues are much more tolerant of these surprises than previously and are generally happy for you to deal with the situation and get back to things when everything’s sorted.
For any remote company, being able to effectively collaborate in a remote environment is a top priority and it does require extensive use of online and digital resources. That means getting comfortable with project management programs, video meeting software, and company-specific digital platforms. The more you can familiarise yourself with, the better.
While working remotely usually means working at home on your own, it doesn’t mean you’re working alone. Not being in office surrounded by teammates means that collaboration can be a bit more challenging so the ability to communicate and collaborate well are essential skills.
Most remote companies will have a communications charter which describes how they communicate best to ensure collaboration works as seamlessly as possible. They might use Teams in place of phones, instant messaging for instant replies, Slack for team chats, email for more formal requests, etc. It’s best to have a thorough understanding of what works for your company.