Is remote work good for everyone? What competencies should remote workers have
With remote work popularity, we need to learn more about it to understand how your company can benefit from hiring remote employees. To ensure that remote work is going well, you need to know how to organize it and what characteristics people should have to be good remote employees.
In the spring of 2020, our reality has completely changed. Practically overnight, we were put to the test of whether we were able to adapt to the new way of working. Those companies could have moved their business to the online sphere, and the mythical remote work of the IT world has also become a standard for other industries.
Remote work has many advantages. On the one hand, it allows you to save time (e.g. we don't have to get up early and prepare meals), saves money (we don't waste it on commuting or eating out). On top of that, we have additional possibilities – whoever didn't do the laundry during the break, let them throw the mouse first ;).
How to verify if candidates are competent to work remotely?
Regardless of the position we recruit for and what working conditions we can offer, we check the candidates' competencies – both hard and soft. Soft skills are usually the biggest challenge in the recruitment process. A behavioural interview (STAR model) can most effectively verify them.
In this text, I describe the most important competencies of working remotely and suggest questions that will help verify them.
What, apart from willingness, should people working remotely have?
Highly developed communication skills. There is no doubt that clarifying issues "face to face" is more effective. When you see someone, it's easier to read emotions and ask about incomprehensible issues continuously. Communication in any job is the key to success, especially when working from home. Connecting with others while working online requires adapting to asynchronous communication and greater understanding – for example, when we misinterpret a written message or are misunderstood. In addition to the online meeting, we can choose e-mail, company chat or telephone. A great skill is to select the form for the situation and the importance of the message, and the person with whom we are to talk. The ability to give and receive feedback is essential.
Sample recruitment question:
- Tell me about a situation where you were misunderstood in a written conversation.
- Tell me about a situation when you had to wisely consider the form of communication while working remotely.
- Tell me about a situation where you had to deal with many messages and threads across multiple channels.
Self and time management skills and assertiveness. The ability to estimate a specific time to complete a task allows you to measure the strength of intentions. This will enable you to set boundaries and work as many hours as you should. In addition, in remote work, we have to meet more often because we don't have the opportunity to discuss topics "over coffee". A big challenge is the ability to switch between contexts – operational, conceptual work and conversations. Sometimes it is necessary to refuse the next appointment to care for your health.
Sample recruitment question:
- Tell me about a situation where you had to combine the need to perform operational work with numerous meetings.
- Tell me about a situation where the number of tasks you were supposed to complete exceeded your time limits.
Independence. Independent employees can act on their own and deal with various situations that require decision-making. He makes them based on analyzing available information and his own experience. Sample recruitment question:
- Tell me about a situation when you had to perform a task that was new to you for the first time.
Responsibility for tasks and high work ethic. When we work remotely, we cannot count on someone to accompany us and constantly motivate us to work. No one will notice if we struggle with a task or procrastinate. Everyone should take responsibility for their actions and results and proactively ask for help when they need it. It is also only possible to work remotely with someone you can trust.
Sample recruitment question:
- Tell me about a situation where no one controlled you while you were working, and you were solely responsible for the result.
- Tell me about a situation where you could not concentrate for a long time while at work.
Flexibility and the ability to improvise - understood primarily as the ease of adapting to changes and unforeseen situations. In remote work, we rely on technologies – we need a computer, the Internet, and software. Therefore, it is very easy for a person to have technical problems and not be able to attend a meeting or do their job. A flexible employee can act effectively in various situations. They don't give up when the original plan doesn't work out, and as a result, they achieve better results at work.
Sample recruitment question:
- Tell me about a situation where you were supposed to attend a meeting, and one of your key people could not connect.
- Tell me about a situation where you were supposed to host a remote meeting and lost your internet connection.
Ability to be alone for most of the day. When working remotely, there are fewer opportunities to cooperate with the team, and we are also exposed to staying in one place all the time – the lack of going "to work" means that there is no forced change of space: leaving the house, contact with people "live". Not everyone is comfortable in these circumstances.
It is also worth remembering about working conditions. Good Internet is a must-have - this is not something the employer can provide us. We are also responsible for the ergonomy of the workplace and meeting health and safety conditions.
Working in inconvenient conditions (no desk, no chair, small screen) can have a negative impact on health – it causes back pain, to which remote employees are highly exposed. The issue of maintaining the confidentiality of conversations and silence during meetings is also essential – a separate room in which other household members are not present is necessary.
Remote work = digitization
Companies working remotely are undoubtedly very digitized, so proficiency in using computers and software is needed.
The most common skills needed are:
- organize and participate in videoconferences (e.g. Zoom, Google Meets, MS Teams),
- quick communication ([Slack]https://calamari.io/integration/slack), MS Teams),
- registration of working time (e.g. Calamari, Sage HR, Toggl),
- creative work (Jamboard, Miro, Mural).
Savoir Vivre of remote work. What is worth remembering?
There are rules of conduct everywhere, even online. Knowing and following them will make us well-perceived by others. More importantly, it isn't easy to communicate and collaborate without following these rules. With limited interactions, it's hard to nurture relationships. It's worth remembering to respect your behaviour, especially during meetings. Remember: Be punctual Have your camera turned on Mute your microphone when you're not speaking Speak up when you want to say something Don't interrupt others Take care of the quality of your internet connection Keep eye contact with the camera, and the recipients will feel that you are addressing them directly
Making remote work possible and practical depends on the employee's competence and the employer's. The team may try to effectively work online, but without the employer's will, it won't work – it's the employer who sets the way, supports processes and gives tools. The attitude of managers who trust their employees is understanding and, above all, open to the needs of others, is extremely important.
We want to thank Klaudia Litkowska and Karolina Sokołowska from Bee Talents for sharing their experience regarding remote work competencies with us.
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