3 Essential Soft Skills for Remote Work


December 4, 2020  |  Hassina Obaidy


Everyone is working from home a bit differently. Most of us have spent the last few months establishing work from home schedules, reminding each other to take breaks, daily/weekly check-ins with our managers, and merely staying sane. Some have even developed new skills and practices, such as managing our time between home life and work life, finding unique ways to increase our productivity, and so forth.

We don’t know how much longer we’ll all be working remotely or how our day-to-day work environment will even look like when the pandemic is “over,” but there are a few essential soft skills that add tremendous value to working remotely. Hard skills are crucial too, and you wouldn’t hire the right people at your company without meeting those specific hard skills. On the other hand, soft skills are critical to maintaining productivity, increasing your team’s efficiency, and becoming a better worker and teammate. Here are some of the essential soft skills that both you and your entire workforce can develop for remote work.

Self-Motivation

While we are all connected, we’re also working independently to some degree. Some of us find motivation while working in the office and interacting with each other. For some employees, self-motivation comes naturally. This doesn’t mean that these groups of employees are more excited about the job than others. It’s just part of who they are. Motivation, in itself, can also be contagious.

Self-motivation drives people to keep going even when faced with setbacks, challenges, roadblocks; you name it. It’s the act of constantly pushing yourself to meet your goals, even during the most undesirable circumstances. Self-motivation is not an easy skill to acquire; it’s an art and practice that takes time, effort, and patience to find a unique way to stay motivated.

While quarantine fatigue can also deteriorate motivation in the remote workplace, leaders and managers have the opportunity to step in and help. As Culture and People leaders, you can guide your workforce to find motivation in their work as individuals and the value they add to the company as a whole. Furthermore, managers must show their teams the type of value they are adding amid a pandemic. Perhaps share the success of a project and how it adds value to the company overall. Recognition encourages employees to keep them motivated.

Communication

Communication is a big one. If you’ve paid attention to some of our blogs and resources, we continuously stress the importance of communication among your teams, especially right now. Companies use various communication and project management tools to share project status, updates, and other necessary information that impacts day-to-day work.

We are no longer swinging by someone’s office or desk space to ask them a quick question or give a quick update or ask how their day is going. However, we can still practice effective communication remotely via team chat apps and email communication. Guide your employees to communicate more effectively and encourage them to send updates via your company’s chat apps. Some junior employees might feel they’re annoying their managers or colleagues if they send lots of updates or questions. Encourage your teams to actively reach out and ask questions, even if they think it’s dumb. There’s no such thing as overcommunication. The purpose is to ensure everyone is aligned with each other.

Empathy

Even without knowing, empathy is essential for remote work for many reasons. Many employees are still struggling with work from home life. We may be able to look into our employees’ and colleagues’ homes via video calls, but we don’t necessarily look into their personal lives to understand their circumstances. They’re either taking care of their kids or a loved one while working, some might not have a private working space, which can be distracting, or they’re still unable to adapt to remote work effectively. Showing and acting with empathy, whether it’s peer to peer, manager to the employee, or vice versa, shows that you are aware of the current circumstances and are respectful of each other.

Additionally, everyone has different backgrounds and perspectives, so employees must understand each other’s views and respect them.

“…empathy is a critical foundation of a diverse and inclusive work culture.” – Indeed

Teach your employees about how to be empathetic to each other virtually. Some ways to show empathy include flexible scheduling, being patient during video calls when their kids come up on the screen, background noise during calls, and practice active listening. Most importantly, everyone must be mindful of how to talk about specific controversial topics with one another. This goes back to understanding and respecting each other’s perspectives. Check out the blog post on How COVID-19 Made Empathy a Key Communication Skill and how to build the skill for empathy.

There are many other soft skills that are essential to how we work, such as time management, organization, and resourcefulness, to name a few. As for remote work, communication, empathy, and self-motivation are key to productivity, employee engagement, and getting along with each other in the remote, and physical work environment.

Check out some of our microlessons on how to maintain culture in the workplace and navigating remote work during COVID.


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