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Qualities of a Successful Remote Worker

August 13 2020

When the COVID19 pandemic hit and offices closed down in mid-March necessitating remote work, many of us were probably looking forward to working from home, thinking this might be a good thing for work-life balance, a nice change from the mundane routine of commuting and going into the office from nine to five. Who wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to take that 9 am conference call in your PJs? At this stage, however, having experienced remote work for several months now, some of us might be questioning whether we’re cut out for it.

It takes a certain type of person to work effectively from home and certain type of company culture to support it. Approximately 39% of jobs in Canada can be done remotely, those in the finance, insurance, education, technical and professional services sectors being top of that list. Which means that many organizations may consider teleworking as a permanent solution, at least for part of their workforce. When applying for these jobs, candidates should ask themselves: do I have what it takes to work remotely?

Ability to Work Independently & With Little Direction
Working remotely can be challenging if you need constant feedback and input, or even someone to bounce ideas off of. Technologies like Slack and Teams can help bridge the gap between you and your manager and co-workers but you can’t expect the same type of instantaneous interaction as you would by sitting in an office next to someone. You must be comfortable with your job, with making decisions independently and be able to problem solve on the spot.

Great Communicator & Collaborator
Feeling left out is common while working remotely, especially when others at your company are in the office, attending in-person meetings, having regular watercooler conversations, and getting first-hand accounts of why Charles from the IT department got a promotion. The onus falls on you to keep communicating with your co-workers, reach out regularly for information, and engage others in collaboration. Some companies will go the extra mile to proliferate an inclusive culture but it’s ultimately up to you to make your voice heard and stay present in collaborative initiatives.

Tech Savvy
Remote workers are generally expected to be comfortable with using a variety of different collaborative tools and technologies, some specific to the industry, others more commonplace, as well as being open to learning new digital resources. For IT professionals, this is not a novelty and if you’re an IT candidate, you might be rolling your eyes here and thinking “of course I’m tech savvy!” But this is an important thing to consider when you choose a remote job: if you’re not the person who likes communicating through technology then this setup might become frustrating.

Good Time Management Skills
When working remotely you need to be great at identifying important tasks for the day and prioritizing them to remain effective. A good time manager will identify the times of day they are most productive and structure their work around that. Working from home can also be distracting so you must be disciplined, focused, and available to your team.

Self-Starter & Self-Motivator
Remote workers have no managers or teammates around them to identify which tasks they must complete and in what order. They must motivate themselves to complete their to do list for the day, stay accountable, and be very goal focused. If you are a procrastinator by nature, you might need to work extra hard to overcome your putting off tendencies and avoid any temptations that will take you away from your work.

Remote workers don’t have access to the all the amenities of an office, so the onus is on them to figure out how to effectively complete their work, which means they have to get a bit creative at times. You know how to research information, you’re not afraid to try new ways of working, and you enjoy solving problems.

Employers must have confidence that the teleworker is fulfilling obligations of their job and is contributing to the progress of the company. Trust is the cornerstone of any professional relationship but it’s especially key here where it’s much easier to take advantage of the flexibility in work arrangement. As a remote worker you may have to prove yourself. Your company might also have a time tracking policy which you would have to abide by.

So, do you think you’re cut out for it? There are people that enjoy it and others that thrive better in the buzz and excitement of an office setting. Ultimately, it’s the social aspect of work that is the key difference. Before you consider a teleworking role, think carefully about the pros and cons, and if you have any questions about your suitability for it, speak to a recruiter for more guidance.