4 Must-Have Soft Skills for Remote Workers
The pandemic has resulted in multitudes of changes this year. One of the most impactful and potentially long-lasting changes in the general workforce has been normalizing the concept and applications of remote working. Since remote working seems like it is here to stay, it is important to consider some of the soft skills for remote workers that make you more hireable and lead to greater success in this new workforce reality.
Sometimes also referred to as “transferable skills”, soft skills are a combination of interpersonal skills, character traits, and social and emotional intelligence that enable people to be assets in the workplace. The counterpart of soft skills is “hard skills”. These are also known as technical skills and pertain more to mastery of job-specific tasks.
While hard skills are technical and easier to teach to any job candidate, soft skills are more difficult to train. They are more of a result of internal character traits and the way a person approaches life. Furthermore, these skills can set a job candidate apart as an asset in a workplace. This is why most interview questions are designed to provide insight into a candidate’s response to situations where the presence of certain soft skills can be evaluated.
It is important as an employer and an employee to always be developing as many soft skills as possible. But there are definitely some soft skills that particularly lead to greater success when operating in a remote working situation.
Here are 4 must-have soft skills for remote workers:
The first in our list of must-have soft skills for remote workers is perhaps the most important: communication.
Types of communication
Successful communication overall consists of five different factors.
- Verbal communication describes your ability to speak clearly and concisely.
- Nonverbal communication is your ability to interpret and project intentions through body language and facial expressions.
- Written communication is the skillful manner in which you compose emails, reports, texts, and other types of documents.
- Visual communication is the way you communicate ideas and information through pictures, videos, and other visual aids.
- Listening actively is an important part of communication. One-way communication is largely ineffective. Active listening helps you actually hear what others are saying. It helps you understand their needs and how best to communicate with them.
When you’re working from home and are isolated from the normal ease of access to your colleagues, your alternative communication techniques become more essential than ever.
Make sure you keep the proper people up-to-date with the progress of the projects you’re working on. Maintain hours that you are easily accessible, and be quick to relay any information needed. Set up video or phone meetings as needed to expedite collaboration, and be timely to these appointments.
Much of your daily communication within your company network will now be written in the form of emails, texts, Slack, and chats. So it’s crucial that you are putting extra effort and attention into your written communications. Always edit, spell check, and review the punctuation and grammar of any typed message, including texts.
Ensure that the proper level of formality and professionalism is being projected according to the relationship between you and your recipient. A more casual and familiar tone can be used between coworkers that might not be appropriate for a supervisor or client.
Video and phone calls will also be frequently utilized. Make sure you remain as professional on a video conference call as you would in person. Pay particular attention to your personal appearance and the cleanliness and neutrality of your background.
One tool you can use to help you is Grammarly. This software automatically checks your writing for mistakes. It’s also important to remember that most Americans read at a 7th-8th grade level. Keep that in mind when trying to explain complex information.
Being outside of the normal office environment does not negate the importance of teamwork as one of the significant soft skills for remote workers.
Working remotely does not mean you are working alone. There are still other team members who need to be involved in completing projects and the sharing of ideas and information.
While collaborating with team members might be more of a challenge in a remote situation than an office environment, it is still possible and important. Make use of project management software, apps, shared documents, and chats to facilitate the process. Learn as much as you can about these tools so you can use the applications to their fullest potential and be an expert at navigating them.
Your ability to make the necessary adaptations to function as a productive member of a team in a remote working situation will make you a valuable asset to your current or prospective company. If you are conducting the meeting, make sure you have clear goals to discuss. Don’t waste your and other’s time by not having a clear agenda for each meeting.
Self-motivation is one of the most essential soft skills for remote workers.
Being able to manage your time between work and your personal life is especially important when working from home. Your coworkers and supervisors need to be able to depend on you to complete tasks and projects on time without being micromanaged.
Your personal work ethic is key when maintaining a productive work schedule from home. You must be disciplined in setting aside dedicated time to get your work done. And your ability to focus is critical to making sure this time is productive.
Employ whatever measures are needed to maintain this focus in your remote working environment. This can include noise-canceling headphones, “do not disturb” settings or silencing notifications from apps not needed for work, an organized workspace void of distractions, and proper communication with those close to you (including kids, spouses, or roommates if you are at home) not to disturb you at these times. You might even choose to relocate from your home to a library, coworking space, or another more focused environment for the times you set aside to get work done.
Lastly, flexibility is one of the most crucial soft skills for remote workers. Especially in uncertain times like these, you must be able to adapt successfully to sudden changes as they come.
You must be able and ready to adapt to changing deadlines and altered assignments. Being proactive to solve problems and offering to fill in gaps when you see them will make you an essential and valuable team player.
Being flexible as a remote worker means that you are able to quickly adapt to challenges such as other team members being in various time zones. You also need to be a capable and creative thinker and problem solver when complications such as wifi or technical issues arise.
Being able to think on your feet and at a moment’s notice and being ready with back up plans for unexpected setbacks will set you up for success for the challenges facing this new age of remote working.
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