Posted August 8, 2020 by Mark Perna
A career coach shares valuable tips on how to stand out—virtually. Mark’s article, “Unlocking The Secrets Of The Effective Remote Worker,” published at Forbes.com on August 4, 2020.
With all the buzz around the challenges of working from home, it’s easy to forget the positive opportunities that a remote workforce can offer. As new remote strategies and best practices are emerging, employers are asking: What are the defining traits of an effective remote worker?
At the same time, employees are asking themselves: What are the secrets of effective remote work? How can I take my remote work game to the next level, amid an increasingly crowded field?
I recently connected with Brie Reynolds, Career Development Manager and Coach at FlexJobs, to talk through the challenges and opportunities for the newly remote workforce. Here’s what she had to share.
We already know that remote work is so much more than simply changing the location of where you work. It’s a whole different way of approaching workflow, communication, time management and work-life blend—and it requires new skills and adaptations to reach your maximum productivity and career satisfaction.Remote work is so much more than simply changing the location of where you work. Click To Tweet
“One of the main indications that a remote worker is struggling is lack of communication. Out of sight, out of mind can be an issue for those working from home,” says Reynolds. The best remote workers proactively reach out to coworkers and managers regularly through email, phone, internal chats and other tools.
Other areas where successful remote workers shine? “Time and task management, the ability to focus and be self-motivated, and comfort with technology are all critical traits,” says Reynolds. “A growth mindset is also important in a remote environment, alongside an overall curious, interested approach to your work.”
“If a person ‘goes dark’ for periods of time throughout the day, without letting coworkers know, it can be a red flag that they need to improve their efforts to communicate often and well.”
Remote interviews are changing the way people get hired—and employers are looking for candidates who display professionalism, attention to detail and preparation. “During the remote interview process, make sure to discuss any previous experience working remotely,” advises Reynolds. “That can include fully remote work, partially remote work and even occasionally remote work—as long as you can show that you were productive and effective during whatever time you spent working from home.”
Stories are a powerful interviewing strategy, allowing you to showcase your skills and personality while keeping the interviewer’s attention. Reynolds says, “Candidates should talk about the methods and systems they use to keep themselves focused, how they stay organized, and explain times when they’ve been a clear communicator. By demonstrating these skills through stories, candidates can paint the picture to a prospective employer about how they would be successful working from home.”
Career scarring, or the lower positions and wages that can persist for years for workers who launch their careers during a recession, is a major concern for the class of 2020. But there’s hope, not least of which is how remote work expands new graduates’ career opportunities.
“Remote work can open up job seekers to a wider range of professional, high-paying roles where they might have otherwise been limited due to geographical restrictions,” says Reynolds. “I would urge all job seekers, and especially those just starting their careers, to consider remote opportunities that broaden their possibilities.”
In a presage of things to come, FlexJobs experienced a 10% increase in remote jobs posted from May to June. As more and more companies extend remote work options through 2020 or even permanently, it is very likely that the trend toward long-term remote work will continue, even when it is no longer an issue of public health. “Companies will need to consider working remotely as part of any future emergency plan and formalize a policy,” says Reynolds.
Prior to the current pandemic, remote work had proven its ability to maintain business continuity and allow people to be productive. The benefits go both ways: “Remote work offers very real and long-lasting benefits for companies, including cost savings, productivity increases, a more diverse talent pool, better employee retention and lessening environmental impact,” says Reynolds. “For workers, it delivers savings of time and money, lowered stress and increased job opportunities.”
No doubt about it: remote work isn’t going away. “Unlike previously when remote work was still viewed as a perk or a casual employee benefit, today companies have no choice but to make remote work truly work,” says Reynolds. “Instead of ad hoc use, we see the full deployment of remote work across many organizations, with managers and employees quickly building remote work programs and learning best practices.”Remote work isn’t going away. Click To Tweet
Though the transition to remote work was tough for many companies and individual workers, the rewards are real. “The recent switch to remote work will ultimately prove beneficial to both companies and employees beyond the current pandemic,” Reynolds says. “Now, business can maintain continuity in circumstances like bad weather, natural disasters, or future outbreaks because they have the infrastructure and practices in place.”
After seeing how well remote work can work—not just to keep people safe, but also in terms of productivity, cost savings, employee loyalty, environmental impact and many other benefits—it’s hard to imagine a return to business as usual. And for employers and employees alike, that’s a good thing.