There is no doubt that the future of work is remote. Organizations had been contemplating a shift to a virtual workforce, this pandemic has been an accelerator to promote the same. While organizations have been able to procure and deploy the right material resources, digital tools and practices to promote remote work, employee skills have not come up the curve as yet. Undoubtedly, each role requires different skills and competencies. However, there are a few skills that organizations need to promote and nurture in each employee to make their virtual workforce effective and efficient.
Developing employee skills for remote work
Numerous business leaders and managers question the need to invest in employee reskilling and upskilling in the face of transition to remote work. While the nature of technical skills is location agnostic, communication and other soft skills and abilities need to be encouraged in a remote setting. Here are a few employee skills and competencies that count for an effective virtual workforce and how to develop them:
- Ability to work independently: Undoubtedly, employees cannot run to their managers for every minor inconvenience which is common in a conventional setting. Therefore, employee skills focusing on independence of work and taking ownership need a boost. There needs to be a move away from micro management where managers give employees greater responsibility. Organizations should experiment with behavioural change agents which can nudge employees to develop independence.
- Self motivation: In a conventional setting, there are multiple ways to keep employees motivated and engaged. However, in remote work, self motivation and the ability to engage oneself become important employee skills. One of the most effective ways to nurture self motivation is to ensure role suitability. This means instead of simply allocating work, try to map employee expectations and delegate responsibilities based on a career growth map. When employees see their professional growth, their self motivation will be on the rise.
- Communication: Communication, both oral as well as written is the key to effective remote work. One of the challenges of remote work is that the person on the other side isn’t able to gauge your body movements and expressions effectively. These generally convey your level of comfort, understanding of responsibilities, any inconvenience, etc. However, strong communication in employee skills can make a difference. Organizations can invest in digital training to boost employee communication skills, especially for remote work. Additionally, investing in team collaboration tools can facilitate better communication.
- Digital knowledge: One of the key employee skills to excel in remote work is to ensure that employees understand and know how to use the tools and platforms that the organization invests in. Be it productivity tools, or progress mapping software, investment in employee training to effectively use them is equally important. Additionally, each employee will be at a different level of understanding and expertise. Therefore, learning and development must have comprehensive and personalized modules, instead of standard LMS based training.
- Discipline and consistency: Not being able to stick to deadlines and work not being upto the mark are some apprehensions that managers have with remote work. While more often than not these are baseless, in a rare case when it happens, organizations can promote discipline. Focus on deliverables and not the hours that employees put in. Additionally, it is very important to set clear expectations and monitor regular progress. Finally, managers must offer comprehensive feedback to ensure quality work, within the stipulated time.
Remote work is here to stay
Organizations have been investing in learning and development of their employees for a long time to make them more adept at their roles. With remote work becoming the norm, it is equally important to nurture employee skills which can boost greater commitment whilst working remotely. Additionally, there should be a focus on developing mindfulness in employees to ensure mental wellbeing.