illustration of laptop and deskThe shift to remote work has been one of the most conspicuous workplace trends of 2020 and many believe a significant percentage of work will remain remote. In this new normal, it's important to know which Soft Skills are critical for effective remote work and what hiring managers are looking for.

  1. Adaptability and Resiliency
    “Remote workers have to be prepared to adapt to unexpected situations, like IT issues,” says Charlene Manning, Job Developer, Westchester-Putnam Career Center. “I myself have had to be adaptable when teleworking. Be prepared for these situations, know who to contact to resolve them, and have a backup plan. The key is to stay calm and continue to be as productive as possible until things get worked out.”

  2. Self-Motivation
    Remote employees need to be proactive and take initiative without being constantly monitored by managers. “There are a lot of distractions when working from home. We suggest using tools like noise-canceling headphones, as well as keeping an organized workspace with an actual desk and chair,” advises Nahshon Halevi, Job Developer, Westchester-Putnam Career Center. “Working on a couch and/or with the TV on is not recommended.”Additional tips include blocking off certain times of the day to dedicate as focus hours, where emails and text messages are deliberately ignored. To be productive it’s imperative to work uninterrupted in blocks of 1-2 hours at a time, take a break, check email and then go on to the next block.

  3. Communication
    Remote work requires excellent communication, but be careful not to over- or under communicate. Employees who are not comfortable with teleworking may mistakenly believe that they need to report every detail of their day or they may be the person who is "missing in action.” Be sure to stay in touch but keep emails and texts concise and on topic. Be considerate of email glut and pick up the phone when it’s possible to resolve an issue faster person to person. Also be aware of the time it takes to craft an email, the number of people being cc’d, and the time it will take for all recipients to read and respond to the email. Composing and checking emails creates a façade of “working,” but don’t mistake it for productivity. Also make sure your email and messaging has a purpose. For example, if you craft an email with 10 people cc’d, is it clear what action is required and who should respond?

  4. Work Schedule
    The most successful remote workers are those who maintain a strict work schedule. They don’t mix personal business during work hours, and friends and family understand “they are working” even if at home. “Map out the 8 hours you will work with lunch and breaks worked in, just as you would if you were on-site. Be careful to be available when expected and notify your team of when you will be offline so that they understand a delayed response,” concludes Linda McKinzie-Daugherty, Director of Business and Community Engagement.

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