8 Virtual Work Skills Modern Employees Need
We often hear about the virtual work skills needed for remote workers to be successful, but many of those skills are needed by all employees in the modern workplace. It’s not uncommon to have working relationships with coworkers whom you seldom meet in person, and many companies offer employees telecommuting options. Adding these virtual skills to your professional toolbox will make your relationships more effective and make you more employable.
1. Establish Preferred Ways to Communicate
This is a skill that you’ll want to develop because you’ll use it with any coworker that you need to stay in regular contact with, whether it's to touch base, hash out project tasks, or exchange documents. Even when you work on the same floor of a building, you’ll discover that each person has their preferred way of communicating because of their personality and work style. Some respond quicker to emails than voice messages because they are away from their phone most of the time. Others have an inbox that's overflowing with unanswered messages but will usually pick up their phone. Negotiating the best way to communicate and share information will make interactions with your coworkers go more smoothly.
2. Stay Organized
Staying organized doesn’t just mean keeping your workspace clean and sorted. It also means staying on top of your roles and responsibilities. Remote workers often need to pay more attention to this skill because they have fewer interpersonal cues during the day, but everyone struggles with organization as their workload increases. In today’s workplace, responsibilities pile up and move from worker to worker at an ever-faster pace, which can create a feeling of chaos. A good way to counteract that feeling is to make a habit of reviewing all your projects and schedule at least weekly, if not daily. You'll make better use of your work hours and be a more productive asset to an employer.
3. Schedule Meetings that Work Best for Everyone
This is a skill that anyone organizing meetings in a large organization will need to develop. The most challenging aspect of choosing meeting times is finding the time that works best for most if not all the essential people on a project. Someone may be able to attend a meeting at a given time, but it won’t be the best time for them to be an effective participant, such as remote team members who are in different time zones than your local team. When it’s impossible to schedule good times for everyone, rotate the meeting time periodically to accommodate those who are in different time zones.
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4. Be Assertive
Assertiveness is one of the key skills that will make you more effective in most workplaces, but it’s also a nuanced social skill that takes time to develop depending on your personality. Some people are naturally retiring, and others are overly aggressive. Assertiveness is the happy medium that ensures your needs and views are known without impinging on those of others. Assertiveness will also help you be more proactive on projects. Assertive workers keep each other on task by checking in or making requests without waiting for someone else to do it.
5. Leverage Technology
Technology continues to make work relationships easier to manage both at the office and remote locations. Remote workers especially can benefit from video conferencing and other internet technology skills that make frequent face-to-face meetings possible without being physically present. Stay on top of the latest technologies as they become available. Not only will it increase your value to potential employers as a remote worker, but it'll also improve your productivity overall. Employers value lifelong learners who actively improve their technology skills and bring new ideas to the table.
6. Stay Motivated
Staying motivated can be a challenge under any circumstances over the long term, but it can be more difficult when working remotely. Many people are motivated by social interaction with team members as they tackle a project’s challenges together. Those interactions often serve as reminders or offer ideas when you’re stumped by a problem. When these natural social motivators dwindle because of working remotely or a lack of enthusiasm on a team, being able to jump-start yourself is a valuable skill to employers. It'll help you stay productive, and your own enthusiasm can be an asset to a project manager who needs someone to inject energy into their team.
7. Keep a Healthy Work-Life Balance
Remote workers can have surprising challenges when creating a healthy balance between work and their personal lives, especially if they telecommute from home. Work-at-home team members need to create well-defined boundaries between their work and family to be at their best each day. This is true of all employees, however, especially salaried workers who take work home or need to be on-call outside of normal business hours. They can suffer the same issues and are at greater risk of burnout because they are working extra hours. Learning how to maintain a healthy balance will ensure you maintain your productivity in the long run and provide a good example for coworkers.
8. Build Relational Trust
Trust is the currency of human relationships. When trust is lacking, people will be reticent to offer help when it's needed for fear that the favor won’t be returned. Establishing and building trust, however, is not simply a matter of professional transactions. It requires frequent and positive social interaction that establishes a personal connection between you and your colleagues. If you find yourself on a remote team, developing the skills needed to keep yourself involved will help you develop the trust needed to be effective. Another way to show that you can be trusted is to proactively follow up on promises with results. Employers value workers who build trust with their team members because it’s the social glue that holds a team together.