Are you looking for a more flexible schedule? Do you want to travel more than your current job allows? Are you dreaming of a post that you can do from the comfort of your own home?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you are in luck. Studies show that globally, at least 70 percent of workers work remotely at least once a week. However, before you leap into the virtual world with both feet, it’s a good idea to take a look at your current abilities. Let’s find out what type of skills are best suited for remote work.
If you are interested in becoming a remote worker, you should improve your:
- Organization skills
- Communication skills
- IT skills
Having worked remotely for over two years now, I’ve learned that organization is the key to a happy work/life balance. Working somewhere other than the office means there isn’t a boss reminding me about my obligations or co-workers prompted me to finish that report before lunch. I have to get myself organized and get it done.
To do that, each day, I take the time to go over work assignments I have, personal tasks that need to be done, and when these must be completed. Organizing my time by prioritizing the tasks goes a long way in preventing all-night work sessions and unhappy family members.
I also need to have an organized workspace. If I need a pencil to jot down a point during a video meeting, I don’t want to have to rush out of the room in search of one. It’s unprofessional and reflects poorly on my capabilities as a remote employee.
You can improve your organization skills by using a planner or day calendar. I’m a paper and pencil type of person, so I use a physical calendar for most things.
However, I also use Google calendar to keep track of work shifts posted on Salesforce, which is another calendar platform. My schedule varies daily, so transferring all the information to my calendar helps me stay on track.
As a remote worker, I also have to organize the assignments and work projects. I use Google Docs so that I can see in one glance what I need to do.
For instance, Thursday’s task is a set of questions for English language learners. I have all the instructions and deadlines in a Google Doc. I actually do the rough draft in Google Docs as well. When it’s finished, I transfer my section to the project spreadsheet, which also happens to be in Google Drive.
Other organizational tools might suit you better. Look at Dropbox, Trello, Microsoft OneNote, and Evernote to see if they can help you stay on top of things.
Having excellent communication skills is essential when you are working remotely. You can’t just stroll down the hall to ask your boss something or nudge Nancy in the next cubicle about something.
Since your communication is often written, remember to use courteous language and proofread. Make sure to clearly define the question or issue at hand but be brief in work communications.
Sometimes a quick email is all you need. Other times you can’t wait around for an answer and need-real time communication. Working remotely requires learning how to use platforms designed for workplace communication.
Asana can not only help you keep in contact with the boss and co-workers, but it can aid in structuring your time. Enabling desk-top notifications keeps you up-to-date on project changes.
Slack is another platform that facilitates workplace interaction. One of the companies that I work for has employees scattered across the globe, although their headquarters is in Florida. The difference in time zones makes email communication inefficient. Using Slack, there is always a monitor on-line to answer questions and address concerns promptly.
Video meetings are a way to do periodic check-ins. Zoom is an easy-to-use video platform that I’ve used at several companies. Zooms allows you to share your screen and make on-screen notations that everyone can see as well, so communication about the topic at hand is quick and easy.
As a remote worker, you are in charge of your work station. If your computer crashes ten minutes before a scheduled meeting with the boss, well, that doesn’t look good for you.
So you’ll need to keep your technical skills and your equipment current. This regular maintenance means making sure daily updates are installed, clearing your cache, and having backup internet service, among other things.
Let me give you an example. For a time, I was having problems sharing my PDF documents in Zoom during meetings. I scheduled a meeting with the IT people at Zoom. Together we went through all the troubleshooting only to find the problem. Now, I’m the unofficial guru on the work Slack channel when it comes to PDF sharing issues.
Google is your friend when you have technical issues. Odds are, someone out there has had the same problem as you, and someone else had the solution.
When it comes to learning how to use a particular platform or app, consider taking a course on it. Udemy is just one place that experts share their knowledge for a small fee. The income potential you gain by mastering that skill makes it a worthy investment.
If the technical skill is more complicated than a single course can teach you, consider getting a certification. Many universities offer online degrees in computer programming, spreadsheet analysis, and hardware maintenance that will give you a leg up as a digital nomad.
Learning how to save files to a space other than your computer is another essential IT skill to have. Dropbox, Google Docs, and One Drive allow you to save documents in the cloud, accessible from any computer, which increases your digital mobility considerably.
Finding a balance between life and work is an essential skill to have as a remote worker. If you spend too much time playing with your dogs, that report won’t get done on time. If you spend an inordinate time working, your family life suffers.
Fortunately, if you master the previous skills, it’s that much easier to improve your balancing skills. Having an organized workspace will save you time searching for necessary items. If your time is well-managed, then you can pencil in a little cuddle time with the spouse without it impacting your work production.
Communicating with co-workers and managers that you are unavailable for a particular block of time lets you take your daughter to her dance recital without worrying about projects looming. Fine-tuning your technical skills prevents disasters, like an entire week’s work, lost when your computer dies.
Let’s answer what types of skills are best suited for remote work in a nutshell. Those skills that lead to a balanced work/life situation are those that improve your:
- Technical ability
The number of remote workers in the U.S. has increased 115 percent since 2005, with no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Now that you know what type of skills are best suited for remote work, you can take a critical look at your abilities. If these skills and your abilities match, then it’s time for you to join the ranks of digital nomads.