7 essential qualities of a successful remote employee
by Dakota Murphey
Attitudes towards remote working have changed radically in recent years. Now, more than two-thirds of employees around the world embrace remote work at least one day each week. As a result, businesses can hire talent from almost anywhere in the world!
The digital age of working
There is little doubt that the traditional 9-5 office is becoming outdated. Thanks to the digital age, technology, the ‘gig economy’, and a drive by younger generations for more flexible ways of working, the work landscape is undergoing a major transformation.
Remote working is an increasingly popular trend. The virtual transition is in full swing. Employers who want to hire the best talent need to understand this shift, embrace flexible working and understand how to manage remote teams.
A recent study by Owl Labs on the global state of remote work reveals that remote workers are more productive and happier than their office-based counterparts.
New skills for going remote
So, does working remotely require a different set of skills? The answer, in short, is yes. Remote employees have a unique set of qualities.
With offices in Spain and the UK, as well as a team of remote workers with specialist skills, Mike Knivett, MD at Artemis Marketing, says that “Managing remote employees does present unique challenges around engagement, training and inclusivity, but that common problems associated with remote teams can be averted by carefully screening candidates to ensure they possess the qualities needed to engage, communicate and deliver from afar.”
If you are recruiting for remote workers, you’ll need to be aware of the challenges remote workers face and importantly the qualities they need to succeed without the constant camaraderie of an office team around them.
Let’s take a look at both.
The challenges faced by remote workers
The biggest challenges faced by remote employees are based around communication, time management and maintaining engagement. While escaping distractions in the office, remote workers also have their own distractions to deal with and have to be disciplined to maintain focus and not slip off to the sofa to watch a box set!
Communication is probably the number one area that requires extra attention. Without face-to-face meetings there is a greater danger of miscommunication or of information not being passed on. Remote workers also miss out on office banter, which can make it harder for them to feel part of a team.
The qualities of remote workers
Despite the challenges faced by remote workers, there are huge benefits for businesses embracing the virtual age. Less overheads, happier and more productive employees, and improved staff retention are just some of the pros.
If you are recruiting remote employees, look out for these 7 essential qualities to ensure success.
Working away from the office, an employee has greater autonomy over their workload, which is essentially a good thing (micromanagement is a proven demotivator). But, it does mean that excellent time-tracking and organisational abilities are a must.
A great communicator
Clear effective communication is imperative when it comes to remote workers. With a remote team you won’t be able to wander to someone’s desk to see how projects are moving forward. Remote workers need to be able to communicate effectively verbally and in writing as they’ll need to be in touch through a variety of technologies and platforms, including text, email, CRM messaging, video conferencing and phone.
This is probably the number one trait you need to look out for in a potential remote employee. Anyone who works remotely needs to be extremely adept at staying in touch. There’s nothing worse than a remote employee who’s gone AWOL and is holding up the team’s productivity.
As an employer, you also need to be adept at communicating. See some tips on how to communicate with your remote employees here.
Accountability is much more in the hands of employees when they work remotely. Remote employees need to understand their goals, stick to timelines, and hold themselves accountable, as well as communicate any issues in a timely manner. It’s very different than being in the office, where issues with deadlines are more easily flagged up and dealt with.
Basic IT skills are a must for anyone working online away from the office. Working remotely, there’s no IT support on hand. As well as having a handle on the IT systems used in the business, remote workers will need to be familiar with a variety of communication tools. Slack, Skype, Google Hangouts and other collaboration tools are essential.
Anyone working alone under their own steam needs to be motivated to meet deadlines and achieve everything that is expected of them. The best remote workers are self-starters – focused and highly adept at prioritising their workload.
One of the biggest attractions to employees for working remotely is the ability to organise their schedule around their personal life. But to get the most out of working hours, remote workers need tremendous discipline to ensure work is completed and deadlines are met.
Without colleagues around them to call upon to solve problems, remote workers need to be able to troubleshoot. Critical thinking skills are a must. When a problem arises, they need to be able to research solutions and show initiative to resolve it.
With remote working now considered normal in many organisations, and with some companies operating 100% remote models, employers more than ever need to be able to spot the qualities required in remote employees to ensure success.