5 Soft Skills Remote Employees Should Have

According to 2023 data from Zippia, "66% of U.S. employees work remotely, at least part-time." And that number is expected to keep climbing. So there's a good chance you already have remote employees or will hire them at some point. Either way, remote employees need to have certain soft skills in order to succeed on the job.

Soft skills are nontechnical skills that characterize how people work and interact with each other. Conversely, hard skills refer to the technical, quantifiable skills needed to execute a job. Note that this article focuses on essential soft skills for remote employees.

Below are five soft skills to look for in your remote employees and in job candidates when hiring for remote positions.

1. Communication

Remote employees cannot physically pop into their boss's office or a co-worker's space to discuss issues or request clarification. Therefore, they must know how to communicate articulately from a distance. This includes all types of messaging, whether via phone, videoconferencing, email or instant messaging.

2. Self-motivation

Remote employees must have the discipline to show up to work on time and accomplish their assigned goals. This means eliminating potential distractions, such as personal phone calls or internet surfing, when working from home. It also means knowing how to take the initiative and solve problems without in-person supervision. 

3. Adaptability

The world of work is constantly evolving. This is evident in the sharp escalation of remote work accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with that, the economy is prone to fluctuation, often forcing businesses to adapt on the fly. Remote employees must also have the ability to adapt to reasonable work-related changes caused by external or internal factors. 

For example, they may need to adjust to changes in their work schedules or job duties. Or they might be required to switch from fully remote to a hybrid arrangement or undergo cross-training to help future-proof the organization.

4. Collaboration

Remote work is normally associated with working alone. But in reality, remote employees must collaborate with others to help accomplish the company's mission, vision and objectives. They should be able to work well with management, employees, customers, other stakeholders and people from diverse backgrounds.

5. Accountability

Remote employees should take responsibility for the work they agree to do and be answerable for the outcomes. They should also take ownership of their conduct, such as by acknowledging and correcting their mistakes instead of blaming others or repeating them.

Resolving accountability issues can be particularly challenging in remote work environments because employees are not physically within reach. So make sure you hire people who value accountability.

Ultimately, remote employees need soft skills, including communication, self-motivation, adaptability, collaboration and accountability, in order to succeed.

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