As more employers discover the benefits of a remote workforce, telecommuting job opportunities are becoming more common every day. While you need many of the same skills that helped you land an onsite or office job, certain remote soft skills can make you a more attractive and viable candidate when searching for a virtual position. To build a strong resume and prove to potential employers you have what it takes to become a strong, self-sufficient remote worker, here are some telework soft skills that will demonstrate you can work from home.
1. Conflict Resolution
You might think that working from home would lower your chances of a conflict. However, the lack of tone in emails or messages may result in some sticky situations. In these instances, conflict resolution becomes a necessary telework soft skill. The ability to resolve conflicts via email or phone calls is an art form. You don’t get the ability to meet the other party face-to-face, making the situation more difficult. But a friendly email and giving people the benefit of the doubt is a powerful way to build beneficial relationships and keep communication civil.
If you complete a task and dive right into the next one without requiring oversight or direction from your boss, you have one of the most desired telework soft skills out there. Being a self-starter goes hand-in-hand with motivation and job understanding, giving you the edge over other candidates who need constant instruction. Employers won’t have to continually monitor your progress, freeing up more time for them to do other tasks and giving you more independence to boot.
Organization is another hallmark of the ideal remote worker. Without a supervisor around to keep you on your toes, maintaining an organized workspace and workflow falls entirely on your shoulders. However, a tendency to be disorganized doesn’t have to hinder your aspirations as a remote worker.
Instead, use all the tools at your disposal in both the real-life and digital worlds. For instance, G Suite and Dropbox are excellent resources for keeping all your correspondence, spreadsheets, and databases in order. In addition, Trello, Slack, and Basecamp provide real-time communication and team collaboration tools right at your fingertips. At home, use a few hacks, organizational tools, or a filing system to keep your desk decluttered and organized.
As a remote worker, you won’t have the luxury of asking a co-worker, the IT department, or the office manager if you run into problems. A software, project, or equipment glitch requires you to take action. You may have to troubleshoot your printer or use online tutorials to fix any hiccups along the way. Don’t think of it as a hindrance. In hindsight, you’ll find that you’ve built yourself into a well-rounded worker and a jack of all trades.
Working independently goes hand-in-hand with self-sufficiency. As a remote worker, you are responsible for meeting expectations and finishing projects without the aid of colleagues or other parties. This requires a certain amount of realistic confidence in your abilities. Even if you are asked to undertake new tasks or projects, you can still have confidence in your ability to work independently by making sure to secure any additional information and resources you may need to refer to if necessary.
Telecommuting is a system of balance. You no longer have a traditional figure to look over your shoulder or manage your affairs. Unfortunately, this lack of oversight may provide the temptation to goof off or procrastinate. Self-management is the answer to this problem. By managing your workload each day, you can complete tasks on time. Otherwise, you might find yourself working a 12-hour day to complete an 8-hour project.
7. Turning It Off
Turning it off, or clocking out, is the remote worker’s way of “going home” from the office. While this may not seem like a quintessential telework soft skill, clocking out is crucial to maintaining a work-life balance that prevents you from burning out. Answering an extra email or finishing up some work outside of your predetermined business hours isn’t always a bad practice. Just make sure to not let it snowball out of control. Like you would in a normal office, shut down your home office for the day and leave any outstanding tasks until tomorrow.
Personality is among the top telework soft skills coveted by employers. While personality may not seem like an actual skill, fitting into an organization’s work culture can make you a more attractive remote candidate. Being appropriately sociable builds relationships with clients and co-workers while injecting pleasantness into the workday. Although not everyone is born with an outgoing personality, being friendly and supportive can go a long way in forging great work relationships and a happy employer or client.
Remote employees work independently at their home office, but that doesn’t mean they don’t work with others. Thanks to the ability to add diversity and include all types of workers, employers have begun to value virtual teams. As a result, chances are you’ll still have to play the role of a teammate.
The downside is that you can’t lean over your cubicle or meet in a conference room to be a remote team player. You’ll have to send emails, make phone calls, and request video conferences to foster teamwork. Forging these relationships are more complicated as a telecommuter. But with a vested effort, you can create a team atmosphere that your employer will notice.
10. Strong Work Ethic
A “good enough” attitude doesn’t work as a remote employee. Without the work ethic to go above and beyond expectations, you won’t earn the trust of your employer. A strong work ethic not only demonstrates your ability to stay on task, but also showcases your dependability, integrity, and trustworthiness on the job. Without it, you don’t have the extra edge to put you over other deserving job candidates.
Communication is one of the cornerstones of any successful remote worker. Because you’ll write countless emails, attend virtual meetings and teleconferences, and handle phone calls, communication is one of the virtual soft skills that are mandatory across every position and industry. Failure to communicate is often implied as a lack of caring and professionalism, so even when you’re away from your home office, you should still be diligent in managing communication between clients, your employers, and colleagues.
One effective way to maintain communication is by always letting people know where and how to reach you. This streamlines business operations and allows your employer to keep you apprised of any pressing issues on projects. You should also take careful consideration over which medium you choose for communication. Phone calls are ideal for maintaining a friendly “water cooler” relationship with others while discussing business. Conversely, emails are the better option for large-scale projects and checklists for the sake of convenience and direction. Whatever method you choose to communicate or express ideas, make sure to do so regularly and make it a part of your daily routine.
When you work from home, you don’t have the research capabilities you’d have at the office. Interns and other departments can’t do the legwork for you; as a result, you’ll have to become a top-notch researcher. Whether you’re looking up information to write high-quality content or finding the best supplier or vendor for a project, strong researching skills are a necessity for the modern remote worker.
Nearly all your work as a telecommuter requires tech-savviness. Regardless of your role, you’ll need to feel comfortable with all the hardware and software in your home office. While you may have learned some of these aspects during your prior jobs, showing the initiative to learn new technical skills is in high demand. From creating a simple website with WordPress to attaching documents in PDF format so they’re easily opened by Mac or Windows users, being tech-savvy is one of the most important telework soft skills.
14. Critical Thinking
Whether you’re analyzing data, putting together a proposal, or working on a project, critical thinking is essential. The ability to examine a problem methodically and systematically and devise a solution relieves stress from your employer. This also gives them time to work on other aspects of the business. In addition, your critical thinking skills can lead to innovation and creativity that presents solutions to future problems or a more streamlined way to do your job.
Even if you’re not managing a team, leadership is a virtual soft skill that’s attractive to a wide range of employers. Leadership goes above and beyond managing other individuals to making key decisions, resolving critical situations, and handling difficult customers and clients. This skill can also lead to new job opportunities such as management positions or more responsibility within the company.
16. Attention to Detail
Attention to detail is your ability to produce emails, proposals, and final projects without missing any important aspects or making sloppy mistakes. Getting organized, reducing distractions, and taking breaks will all help improve your attention to detail. In addition, you should review any project or email before sending it to the appropriate person. This will help you avoid everything from glaring omissions to minor spelling errors.
17. Willingness to Learn
One thing the remote world doesn’t need is a dinosaur. Workers who want to do things the way they have always been done will often find remote work challenging, especially with emerging technologies. Therefore, a desire and willingness to learn is a prized telework soft skill. Whether you need to learn a new customer relationship management (CRM) system, adopt a set of new company policies, or tackle another new task, your willingness to learn will come as a highly valued commodity.
18. Time Management
Time management is an all-encompassing telework soft skill. To successfully manage your time, you’ll need to combine productive work habits with your individual strengths. Although some remote workers have this ability as an inherent gift, building your time management skills is achievable. Plan your day, set a work routine, and schedule your downtime to become a time-management phenom.
From a preferable work-life balance to spending more time with the family, remote work has a plethora of benefits and advantages. By highlighting and improving these telework soft skills, you can combine the experience and intangibles necessary to land your first (or next) remote position.
iStock Image: jacoblund
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