9 Essential Remote Work Skills You Need to Be Successful

Remote Work Skills.
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Ready to join the remote work movement? Excited about shifting your career to a work-from-home position? 

Good and welcome!

It can be a life-changing experience and make you much happier with your work and accelerate your professional growth. But before you jump right in, there are some remote work skills you’ll want to start to focus on first. 

If you have never worked from home a few days a week or full-time, jumping right in can be a shock and feel overwhelming. And this is especially true when over 74% of companies intend to permanently shift at least some of their employees to remote work post the pandemic

For those remote job seekers, these skills can help ensure you stand out during the interview process and ensure you are a top candidate for the role. And once you are employed remotely, continuing to utilize these skills can help you move up the career ladder, get raises, or bonuses. 

So let’s learn more about the remote work skills you need and how to improve them today. 

What Do Remote Work Skills Mean?

Remote work skills are the essential competencies you gain and learn to ensure you maximize your productivity when working remotely. Because remote work presents a different work culture, remote workers require strong organizational skills, will need to be good communicators and must thrive with autonomy.  

Is remote work a soft skill?

Soft skills in remote work would be traits such as communication, time management, leadership, and organization. These are common skills that apply elsewhere in careers but are more critical within remote work. Where hard remote skills are more technical attributes and training, like mastering certain computer programs.

What Skills Do I Need to Work Remotely?

The kind of skills you need to work remotely will be a blend of soft skills and hard skills, but both sets are important for you to become an effective remote worker. And these are also traits that companies will look for when hiring remote employees. 

So whether you will be a fully remote employee or a hybrid (a mix of remote +office) these remote work skills are essential to focus on. 

  • Organizing & Planning 
  • Collaboration 
  • Autonomy
  • Communication 
  • Prioritization 
  • Adaptability
  • Emotional intelligence 
  • Problem Solving
  • Technical Knowledge

1. Organizing & Planning

Remote work success will be up to you. You are in your own office, a co-working space, or maybe a coffee shop – which means organizing and planning your work is on you

Although you may still have a manager to report to, they won’t be able to hover or check in on your work as frequently. Essentially, you need the organization and planning discipline to meet deadlines and be efficient with your work. 

This means understanding tasks, being able to prioritize efforts, understanding the time different projects will take, and more. These are remote skills you may quickly adapt to or you will need some practice to truly master them. 

2. Collaboration

No doubt, collaboration is one of the top remote skills and traits that companies will look for in a hire. Since you are not in person and can easily meet up to work with colleagues, collaboration can be more challenging when you work from home. 

But it doesn’t mean collaboration does exist with remote companies! You have to learn to be more proactive in making an effort to work with colleagues who may work in different time zones and countries. 

As a remote employee, you have to be open and build trust with team members have recurring check-ins, get some facetime with individuals, and get their input on various projects. It’s easy to get siloed when working remotely without putting in the effort. 

3. Autonomy

One reason remote work can be challenging for many is the autonomy that working from home gives you. Meaning, you have to be self-motivated and disciplined to guide the direction of your work. Another way to put it, you have the “entrepreneurial spirit.” 

Sure, you may have others to report to, but your workday is on you to generally figure out. 

So how do you stay on track without a manager stopping by or group meetings to go over work projects and tasks? Well, that’s where your remote work skills around autonomy come in! You’ll need to set your scheduled and motivate yourself, know what needs to get done and figure out how your day will look. 

4. Communication

If you read anything about remote work, you’ve quickly realized that communication is always CRITICAL. And it’s the exact trait hiring managers for remote jobs will be listening for during your interview

  • How well do you speak and listen?
  • How well do you describe things and respond to questions?
  • What’s your approach to all the different communication channels remote work offers? 

Since you’ll be virtual, you have remote tools like messaging apps, video meetings, email, text, and maybe other tools – all of which other employees may use differently. Understanding which tools to use and when is important. 

But also how clearly you can communicate questions or work that are not confusing or misinterpreted. You don’t have the luxury of popping over to someone’s desk or scheduling a quick in-person huddle, so communication breakdowns can easily happen. 

5. Prioritization 

While prioritization could fit in the planning side of remote skills, it warrants its own section. With most remote work, you don’t have someone constantly telling you what to do. 

Your job is on you to figure out. This means you have been able to problem-solve around what needs to be prioritized throughout the day to be most efficient with your time. 

You might be involved in a lot of projects and have different tasks to accomplish in your day to day, so how do you handle the pressure? How do you prevent yourself from being overwhelmed and missing key deadlines? Learning the skills to become more decisive and action-orientated will be incredibly powerful in your remote work positions. 

6. Adaptability 

Since remote companies move fast and things are constantly changing, you need to be a highly adaptable person. Some people don’t like change and get irritated by it, if that’s the case for you, then remote work might not be the best fit. 

Remote employees will be faced with learning how to work with new team members around the world, adapt to technologies, and manage their workloads without being distracted. Going with the flow is the phrase that you will need to be comfortable with. 

Although adaptability is usually a natural skill to have, you can develop it further by experience and knowing what to expect coming into a remote work environment. 

7. Emotional Intelligence

As Wikipedia states, “Emotional intelligence (EI) is most often defined as the ability to perceive, use, understand, manage, and handle emotions.”

And with remote work, it’s hard to perceive co-workers and managers when you only have non-verbal cues through chat or email. Even video meetings sometimes can present challenges of not being self-aware of the atmosphere or mood of others. 

Emotion intelligence gives you the self-awareness and empathy you need to face any remote work challenges within the workplace. It’s how you avoid miscommunication, solve problems, and become a strong listener which greatly improves productivity. 

8. Problem Solving

Whether a company is remote or not, people love working with those who are good at problem-solving. And in remote work, it becomes more valuable because there is no one around you to help. 

Sure you can message your colleagues for assistance, but there is only so much they can do when they live somewhere else around the world. 

So how do you handle an issue whether with your work or the equipment you use? Hopefully, it’s dive into the problem and figures out a solution without panicking or getting frustrated. 

Being resourceful and problem-solving on your own is a skill you need to develop and prioritize if you feel it’s a weaker skill of yours currently. 

9. Technical Knowledge 

In order to be successful in remote work, you will rely heavily on technology and various tools to get work done and be connected to your colleagues.

And there are lots of platforms you may be exposed to like time management, video and web conferencing, project management, document sharing, etc. 

As a remote employee, you won’t be an expert at using every tool perfectly – there are just too many out there. But you need to have strong knowledge and experience with technologies already. Plus, being able to quickly learn and adapt to the tools the company is using without assistance will be crucial. 

How Can I Improve My Remote Work Skills?

Now that you know what remote skills are essential, how can you better improve them? I’m a big believer that learning never stops, even when you become an expert in something. 

Similarly, if you want to improve your remote work skills, here are a few recommendations to keep improving: 

  • Reading Books: There are plenty of books about remote working, I even made this list that you can check out of the best ones, to begin with. 
  • Taking Courses: Places like LinkedIn Learning, Skillshare, and Udemy for example have tons of courses around remote work or different skills that can apply to success in working from home. 
  • Freelancing/Consulting: Start your remote work journey by freelancing or consulting for other companies in your field. When I was pursuing a marketing career more, I looked for some extra side gigs. It was my first intro to remote work and taught me the skills needed to be successful in a fully remote position. 
  • Find A Mentor: Know someone who has been a remote work advocate for years? Runs a remote company? Is working remotely full-time? That’s the person you should connect with and learn from. You never know what kind of opportunities or golden nuggets of info you’ll get. 
  • Building Something: Many skills needed for remote work success can be learned by doing or building something of your own. Whether that is a website/blog, writing articles for other publications, creating an app, starting a side business, etc. All of these things teach you so many skills that can apply to work from home. 
  • Remote Companies Work Culture: Adapting to remote work and being in sync with organizations that are remote or hybrid is key to success too. I’d read content or any reports that companies release about their remote work policies and culture. It will help you identify skills maybe you need and what companies you want to look for in your job search. 
  • Time in Your Career: Most of the remote work skills you’ll learn just come from time you have in your career. Think back to your first few months of working to where you might be now..imagine all that you have learned or how you’d handle different situations. Growth comes with time! 

Happy Remote Working! 

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About Todd Kunsman

Todd is the founder of Remote Work Junkie and has been featured in numerous publications like Business Insider, HuffPost, CNBC, and more. He’s been a remote work advocate for close to a decade and has been working remotely full-time for 5+ years. He’s also a marketing, personal finance, and music nerd 🤓

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