As organizations begin to see signs of recovery from 2020’s disruption, hiring demands are scaling up. The fight for top talent will only get fiercer, and without a clear plan in place for your hiring practices, your competitors will reach the best candidates before you do. With many organizations continuing to adopt a remote work or flex-work format, understanding the competencies and skills that remote workers need for success is crucial.

Important Soft Skills For Remote Workers

Hiring for soft skills is more effective than most technical skills for your team’s success. You can always train employees in your processes and technical work, but soft skills are innate and directly influence your team’s success. Too often, soft skills are put on the back burner when it comes to vetting candidates. We’ve compiled a list of 5 employee soft skills you should nurture in your remote workers to ensure productivity.

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Communication. In the remote workplace, inadequate communication skills are simply won’t work. Without the oversight of an on-site manager, employees need to maintain consistent and transparent internal communication to keep coworkers and management updated and aligned. If one of your employees is known to go radio silent from time to time, you’ll need to address communication standards.

Self-Awareness. Remote work offers a great deal of flexibility in ones’ workday. With no one directly managing employee work, individuals need to self-manage their responsibilities and emotions. Are you noticing team members struggling to meet deadlines? Make sure your expectations are clear and teach individuals to look for early signs of burnout. Recognizing these signs early on can get teams on the right track to engagement. The best remote employees are ones who have a deep understanding of both their talents and overall well-being.

Time Management. Your remote workers should be able to balance your company’s flexibility by giving themselves the necessary structure to complete their tasks. Having clearly defined work hours makes it easy to know when you can get a quick response from your team. Your remote employees need to be able to govern themselves and stick to their deadlines. You need to feel confident in your teams’ ability to manage their tasks without micromanagement.

Decision-making. One organizational benefit of remote work is that it provides an opportunity to find strong future leaders. Your remote team should be built with employees capable of making their own decisions and standing by them. Remote work offers more autonomy, so make sure that you source a team of innovative thinkers excited about taking initiative. While some tasks and decisions will require employees to consult with others, they should be fully capable of making quick day-to-day decisions independently.

Flexibility. Today’s workplace saw a lot of change recently, and it happened fast. Successful employees were able to stay on their toes and adjust as needed. Organizations were forced to make quick adjustments to remain profitable and safe. From adopting a remote work format to implementing new digital collaboration tools, your organization has likely undergone significant changes, and your employees need to be flexible enough to evolve with you.

Improving Soft Skills In Your Remote Teams

Identifying the soft skills you hope to improve in your remote teams is only the start. Creating opportunities and programs to help facilitate this growth will keep your employees engaged and invested in their role. Some ways you can work to improve the skills of you and your employees are:

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Invest in a learning plan. Your employees are your greatest asset and should be treated as such! It’s much easier to develop your existing employees than it is to hire new ones, so nurturing your employees’ soft skills is in your best interest. Talk to your team about what they hope to achieve within their career and their future aspirations. Don’t restrict yourself to only professional goals — what personal skills can you also grow and apply to your role? How do you plan to refine these skills?

Investing in a development plan helps affirm your commitment to growth and offers structure to your development goals. Self-paced development courses are great opportunities for employees to take ownership of their growth. They can complete courses and certifications at a pace that suits them without infringing on their work activities and deadlines. Another great option is utilizing team-wide development courses. This allows you to oversee your whole team’s growth and ensure everyone is on the same page. 

Provide opportunities to practice skills. It’s going to take time and patience to refine your remote team’s soft skills. Your employees are continually evolving, and so are their skill sets. To grow within their career, your employees need to capitalize on opportunities to put their skills into practice. Many transferable soft skills require human interaction, and with the support of video conferencing tools and social platforms, your team can still practice their communication skills from afar. Allow plenty of opportunities to providing feedback, so you and your employees can identify ways to improve.

Set clear expectations. Your team needs a clear action plan to be successful. When managing a remote team, transparency and clarity of expectations and responsibilities help keep everyone on track to achieve their workplace goals. Employees with a deep understanding of their responsibilities and how they play into the company’s overall success are generally more engaged with their role. Ensure all team members have access to performance management tools to help them track their work progress. 

Practice what you preach. The best leaders are the ones who lead by example. If you want to foster a specific culture or work ethic amongst your team, be a model for how they should carry themselves. Commit yourself to coach your employees on how to hold themselves accountable and provide high-quality work while practicing self-governance.

This past year has shown us that a lot more positions can be done remotely than we previously thought. The key, though, lies in finding the right employees who have the skill set needed to be self-accountable and engaged. Using the Caliper Profile, you can utilize our science-driven personality assessments and pre-employment screening to make sure you are interviewing and hiring the right people for your company. Our cutting-edge data can be used throughout the employee lifecycle, including selection, development, promotion, team building. For more information, reach out to our team of experts to see what Caliper can do!