So long as you’ve got a dependable internet connection and a functioning computer, just about any office role can be carried out remotely. Below are the minimum skill sets you need to get started.
Given the list of the minimum skills requirements, do you think you have what it takes to be a remote worker? Can you think of other skills that might come in handy for a remote worker? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Skill requirements may vary depending on your role, but any remote worker needs the following technical skills:
Most remote clients are foreigners, so you’ll need to have at least an intermediate level of proficiency in written and spoken English. Otherwise, you’ll find it very difficult to communicate and to understand what is expected of you.
This involves knowing how to install computer applications, connect to the Internet, and use an Internet browser. It’s also crucial to have a working knowledge of MS Office programs such as MS Word. Then, there’s the hardware. A good remote worker can set up and use their own headsets and softphones should the need arise.
Digital communication is the backbone of remote work because you can’t really talk face to face. Thus, knowing how to compose, send, monitor, and manage emails is a necessary skill, along with using instant messaging applications like Skype, WhatsApp, or Viber. The latter is especially important if you and your client require immediate feedback for certain tasks. Knowing how to share your screen, for example, will make it easier for your client or supervisor to train you properly.
A minimum typing speed of 65 words per minute (WPM) is also key so that you can keep up with online discussions and still get work done.
Knowing your way around project management tools like Slack, Trello, Agile, etc. is a huge advantage. The same goes for real-time work applications like Google Docs, Spreadsheets, Slides, and Calendar Management programs.
The Internet is the ultimate resource for remote workers, so you’ll need to know how to maximize that. Fortunately, this all boils down to knowing how to use search engines like Google.
It’s highly likely that you’ll be asked to help update your client’s content on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram at some point, so it pays to understand the basic workings of each platform.
Do note that these hard skills are the bare minimum. Some highly specialized roles will require additional and highly specific skills. For example, a Graphic Designer should be comfortable with programs like InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, etc. on top of the aforementioned technical skills.
Your suitability for remote work isn’t solely about technical skills either. You can be the best social media manager, graphic designer, content writer, or programmer out there, but you won’t thrive in remote working unless you also have the following traits
You’ll be working alone most of the time as a remote worker, even if you’ll be part of a team. Thus, self-sufficiency is crucial.
This means you should be capable of getting your tasks done without much supervision. It also means understanding what your job or role entails and the output you need to produce every day so that you won’t need to wait for instructions before getting started.
In the same vein, you should have the initiative to deal with situations as they arise. For example, if your Internet connection is compromised or your equipment isn’t functioning properly, you should be able to come up with a solution on your own.
Remote work means you won’t have a boss physically looking over your shoulder. This can be liberating, but it also means you have to take responsibility for yourself.
Those who are new to remote work tend to slack off since there’s no one policing them. This is understandable at the beginning, but there are ways to discipline yourself to stay on track.
There are trackers that measure how much time you spend on tasks, what websites you frequent during a shift, and what things you managed to finish that day. Alternatively, there’s the Pomodoro method, where you divide your time into chunks for working, resting, and recreation, or old-fashioned planners and to-do lists.
Whichever you choose, the bottom line is being disciplined enough to use your work hours productively.
This is closely related to the previous item. Remote workers can usually work any time they want, but they still have to complete their required hours each day.
It helps to allot specific hours for work and to stick to them, but there might be days where this won’t be possible. In such cases, you will need to re-organize your day accordingly and seize the opportunity to get work done whenever you can. Otherwise, you risk procrastinating and running out of time to finish your daily tasks, which isn’t good for you or for your employer.
The best remote workers are usually those who can anticipate things and plan ahead.
Your boss or employer is likely to be busy with a lot of things as it is, so they will appreciate someone who can take the initiative to remind them of crucial decisions or upcoming major tasks rather than the other way around.
Which tasks or functions could be improved upon? Are there upcoming projects with elements that will require your boss’ approval? Do you see any preventive measures your team can implement to avoid possible difficulties in the future? These are just a few of the questions you can ask yourself to practice being proactive. Your boss (and your remote work career) will thank you for it.
These are necessary to any successful working relationship, but especially so in remote work. Because you won’t be communicating face-to-face most of the time and because you’ll be working with bosses and colleagues from different countries and cultures, using the right words and tone is crucial. There aren’t any non-verbal cues in emails or Skype chat messages, so misunderstandings can abound if you aren’t careful.
It’s not just about practicing proper grammar usage. It’s also about being fluent enough to make yourself understood clearly, and refraining from using words that may have negative connotations in other countries or cultures.
As was mentioned earlier, remote work opens up the possibility of collaborating across borders. While it can be exciting to meet people from all over the globe, it can also lead to tense situations if they aren’t mindful and respectful of certain cultural differences.
For instance, coming in late to meetings might be normal for many Filipinos, but the Japanese and most Westerners will see it as disrespectful since this could affect all of their scheduled activities for the day. Some of your co-workers also might not appreciate receiving work emails or messages outside office hours or on weekends.