Let’s face it, who hasn’t spent an hour or two daydreaming about never having to set foot in the office again? You may have already made the switch, or are still exploring how to work remotely. Even more likely is that you’re currently having to work from home due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Whatever your situation, we all need to master certain skills as part of the best practices for working remotely.
Aside from the obvious fact of not having to be in the office, remote work and office work have some huge differences between them. Both the benefits and challenges you’ll come across in the remote world are unlike what you will experience in the office. The reasons why we all choose to work remotely are pretty much the same however: to experience more freedom and flexibility in how we work, when we work, and where we work. In fact, according to Buffer’s State of Remote Work 2020 Report, a flexible schedule and the ability to be location independent are the top two reported benefits by remoters at 32% and 26% respectively1. Remote work taps into the wants and needs of a percentage of the workforce who feel that they have more to offer outside of a typical office setting. Whether this is by improving their work-life balance, greater productivity, or the ability to work hours that suit them, remote work helps people achieve what they want.
This isn’t to say that it’s all clear skies though. How to work from home online may sound easy, but there are challenges that are completely unique to the remote world. In fact, they can be just as difficult as the ones you would face in the office. Solving them requires a whole new unique set of skills that need to be combined together. It takes practice, learning, and experience to really excel. In an office, it can be much easier to stay motivated and focus when you’re surrounded by colleagues and managers. Just being in the office is enough for most people to easily switch into work mode. Difficulty socialising and loneliness are also some of the bigger issues that we have to face in the home office or while traveling. So as you can see, there’s more to it than just either being in the office or working remotely. We can’t all expect to be able to transition so easily between the two without working on the unique skill set needed. While it’s likely that most of us have the skills necessary for an office job and have worked in one before, the same can’t be said for remote. Identifying what you need to work on is half the battle, so let’s have a look at what we at Remote-how think are the top four skills every remoter should master.
Written and Verbal Communication
Like any job, communication is key for a remote worker. We rely on all sorts of tools and the internet to communicate efficiently with our colleagues, often without ever seeing this person face to face. Learning when to communicate, and how to do it effectively is perhaps the most important skill to learn when working outside the office. We need to be clear and precise, but also understanding and sympathetic as we are fighting against distance here. Cultural differences and misunderstandings are much easier to come across when you are communicating purely over the internet. You’ll find that your written skills need to be sharpened, and the way you communicate verbally slightly altered to fit in with the tools and software you use.
Being a Proactive Self-starter
Unlike the office, we don’t have a manager or team lead around to give us constant updates or tasks. This means that you might find yourself with extra time, but no way of finding out what to do. Being proactive is a skill that is essential to practice, because we can’t always get instruction when we need. It’s a key skill in how to work remotely. Over time and with each new role you work in, you learn what the most effective use of your time can be. Being a self-starter is important for any job, but more so for a remote one away from your colleagues.
Collaboration and Leveraging Teamwork
It may seem counterintuitive when you’re mostly working physically alone, but your skills in collaboration will really be put to work when you’re remote. We have a whole range of tools to make sure that we can replicate what happens inside a normal office. To be honest, these tools can even make collaboration easier and more effective. You learn to blend the two worlds together, being able to work on your own but also as part of a team, leveraging the work of others. There really is no room for lone wolves in a remote company.
Being able to manage your own tasks, schedule, and workload has got to be here in our list of the top four skills you need as a remote worker. We have to be very disciplined people and avoid distractions that happen when working at home or while traveling. Making this work with the flexibility in time and location that you have can be tricky. But without organizing yourself and your time properly you will soon quickly find that it becomes difficult to work a remote job. A fine balance is needed between experiencing all the benefits that remote work can offer, and not becoming distracted or lazy when it comes to organizing your time and tasks. We’re also not just talking about your day to day, but also weekly and monthly projects that require a lot more planning. In the office this can happen in a more structured way without so much need for you to organize yourself. In the remote world, it’s all down to you.
A Skill Set Doesn’t Build Itself Overnight
By mastering these four skills, you’re well on your way to becoming a remote superstar that can work anywhere they want. We all want the benefits and plusses that working outside of the office is associated with, but to realise them we need to use best practices for working remotely. Like anything, they take time to build. Don’t look at the list and feel disheartened, they can all be improved upon with effort and time. Some of us are naturally better at certain skills than others, but we really feel that with the right training and help everyone can build up a killer set of skills that will free them from the office walls.