Remote employees are becoming more and more common nowadays. With all the new technology, it is easier than ever for employees to work from the comfort of their own home and not going into the office.
Working remotely is a good arrangement for the employee, but can also be great for the company as well. Sharifah Hardie, the Chief Marketing Officer from LionUniverse works remotely and the company says that,
"We have found that by allowing marketing to work from home the marketing ideas seem to flow more freely without the blocks and confinement of corporate walls. While working with Sharifah we have found that the more freedom she has to do her job, the more marketing success the company has."
Working remotely can bring many benefits to both sides, but it takes a special set of skills to have a successful remote employee that contributes to your company. This may get you thinking, what kind of skills should you be looking for?
To answer this question, we gathered opinions from numerous professionals to give us an idea of the types of skills to look out for when finding effective remote employees. Check out the following:
Skills that remote employees should have
1. Organization with deadlines
Although not in the office, remote employees are still a big part of your team. David Bakke who works remotely for Money Crashers says that,
"Remote employees need to be organized and mature. They need to work well without a lot of supervision and they must be able to complete projects by assigned deadlines. Assigning deadlines to all projects helps, and be sure that clear and concise direction is given for anything that needs to get done."
As a manager, it's up to you to set clear deadlines for your employees. Without constantly being in the office, remote employees need to be able to organize their tasks to meet important deadlines. This skill is a must-have for anyone who wants to be an effective worker.
2. Good Communication Skills
Although important in any situation, communication is a key factor when it comes to managing and staying in touch with remote workers. Matt Bentley, founder of hybrid SEO software intelligence tool and digital marketing agency CanIRank says,
“When hiring remote employees, the first trait I look for is strong communication skills. Remote work runs on effective communication and without it, teams lose two of the most important components of success: collaboration and efficiency.”
Be on the lookout for employees who can communicate well in any situation, whether it be in person, email, and over the phone. You can also put testing in place to analyze their communication proficiency.
3. Knowledge of a proper work environment
Jake Tully, head of the creative department for the company TruckDrivingJobs.com says the skill that is most important to him is
“The ability to assign themselves a work schedule within an environment that is conducive to work. When starting out, some individuals might believe that their apartment or home is the ideal location in which to get work completed - this is not necessarily going to be the case all of the time."
The proper environment will be different from person to person. While working from home is easy for some, others may find it hard to concentrate there. Jake goes on to say,
"Even with a firm schedule in mind, it may be easy for a worker to become distracted or inundated with their surroundings if they put themselves in the wrong environment. It's crucial to understand what kind of workspace works best for you as an employee and to put yourself in that situation when engaging in remote work.”
Remote employees will face distractions from the environment around them. This could come in the form of housework that needs to be done in the home, the music playing at the coffee shop, or children that need your attention. Knowing and creating an environment where they will be most effective is key to a great remote employee.
4. Independent workers
Remote workers are not as accessible as the rest of your day-to-day employees. Without a manager there to push them and watch to make sure they are working, it can be difficult for those without the proper work mindset to keep them on task. The proper mindset is described by Kate Sullivan, the managing editor at TCK Publishing, who says
“A good remote worker needs to be inherently self-directed - someone who does best setting their own deadlines, working times, and goals, given feedback from others. They need to be conscientious, able to manage their own time, and focused on attaining goals and delivering great work rather than just "putting in the seat time" that might happen in an office.”
The tasks that are worked on remotely are often part of a larger project with others depending on them to succeed. The ability to work independently in conjunction with a team is described by Stephen Gibson, founder of Vyteo:
“Remote employees take high-level instructions and are adept at filling in the steps to get there on their own. The best remote employees are independent-minded problem solvers. When questions come up their first instinct is to figure out the solution on their own. They'll maintain detailed notes of their activities so others can understand the status of their projects. ”
5. Able to keep a regular Schedule
Some remote employees may find that their creativity and productivity comes at different times in the day. One may find they do the best work early in the morning while another may be a night owl who works only at night time.
Remote employees need the discipline to keep a regular schedule, preferably during regular business hours. You should know with consistency when they are going to be available. Jack Anzarouth, President of Digital Ink Marketing says,
"I’ve worked with some really skilled people who tended to work whenever they felt like it and that just didn’t work well because I never knew when they were working. They might just work for an hour or two one day and then a whole day and then take the next two days off or work in the middle of the night when I couldn’t contact them."
Working remotely doesn't have clocking in like a typical 9-5 job. This flexibility is great, but it means your employee needs to be able to set a proper schedule to work. Regardless of what each employee’s preferences are, there needs to be coordination with their managers so that they can be reached when needed.
As managers, one our roles is to find what motivates our employees and drive them to perform better. It can be difficult to provide motivation to employees who work remotely, therefore they need to be self-motivated to complete their work. When searching for a good remote employee, Jason from Out of the Box Innovations Ltd. says
“You're looking for self-motivated, driven people who feel the need to complete tasks regardless of whether someone is monitoring. This motivation needs to be strong enough for someone to work until midnight, or completely re-do a task from scratch for no extra compensation in the event that they make a mistake.”
This is seconded by Gene, co-founder of GreenPal, the Uber for lawn care.
“Having managed over 20 remote employees, they all have the same traits. They are all structured and self-motivated. Not being either one of those will result in a disaster because you need to have both to be successful when you have so many potential distractions in the home.”
It can be hard to stay on task in the office much less outside of the office. Finding someone who is self-motivated will solve many of the difficulties commonly found in remote work and provide you with an effective long-distance employee.
James Pollard, a marketing consultant who works with financial services professionals at TheAdvisorCoach.com. With his experience employing and managing several remote employees, his opinion is,
“The best trait for a remote employee is discipline, easily. The truth is that not a lot of people can handle working from home. They get distracted, slack off, etc. If you can find someone who knows how to do the job, can manage time well, and actually does the work, you have found a winner.”
Remote employees need to be on task without the watchful eye of managers and coworkers. This type of accountability is not for everyone, so make sure you find someone who is disciplined enough to do their work regardless of obstacles they may face.
Thomas Jepsen, repeat entrepreneur and owner of Contractor Quotes has 7 remote employees working for him. In his experience, he says that,
“Some of the skills we look for is punctuality, responsibility and not being afraid to admit you need help for a given task. Since working remotely makes it harder to manage someone, it is important that the person shows a strong commitment to a task."
Working remotely can be pretty isolated at times with no one nearby that you can immediately ask for help for. Thomas says that it's also important that a remote employee is able to admit when he needs help for a task, and since certain cultures have a lot of pride, asking for help may be difficult. As a manager, be sure that remote employees can reach out to you for help and have access to the proper resources to complete their tasks.
If you're doing what you love, then work doesn't seem like work! Clayton Coombs, a marketer at The Advocates, believes that
“One necessary trait a good remote employee should have is passion for what the individual is doing. When you have passion for what you are doing, it will enable you to stay focused longer and be more productive at your tasks.”
Knowing that your employees are passionate about their work is a huge step to having a remote worker that does their best work at all times vs. one that is just doing it for the paycheck.
So there you have it, a list of skills and traits that good remote workers should have! Be sure to take these into consideration the next time you are hiring a remote worker or thinking of implementing a flexible work schedule. If you already have remote workers, you can help them develop these skills by putting them on the correct Pathway to progress within your company.