The way businesses operate has changed -- drastically.
Nowadays, successful companies are run in home offices, living rooms, and Starbucks tables. Meetings are hosted on Skype, Slack, and Google Hangouts. Employees can work in their pajamas, and commute from their kitchens to their desks.
Today, remote work has been established as a successful business model, and the number of people working remotely at least part-time is rising. In fact, a survey by Global Workplace Analytics and FlexJobs indicates that remote work has grown 91% over the last 10 years.
However, not everyone is well-suited for remote work. Some people work better in collaborative settings and enjoy the structure of a 9-to-5 desk role, while others prefer solitude and find themselves more productive when working from home.
Whether you're considering hiring more remote workers at your company or you've just been hired for a remote role, it's critical you know which skills are required for remote work, and how you can train your employees to become better at-home workers.
Fortunately, in 2019, TalentLMS surveyed 450 employees to figure out how remote employees work and train best for their at-home roles. Take a look at some of their answers, below, to figure out how you and your company can become more successful at offering and conducting remote work.
1. Acknowledge that you'll be working fixed hours.
People sometimes believe remote work is equivalent with digital nomadism. However, being a digital nomad mostly has to do with freelancing, working at your own pace and hours, and running a business from anywhere in the world -- which is different from remote work.
Remote workers are similar to onsite employees who have a "normal" 9-to-5 daily schedule. According to TalentLMS's statistics, 60% of remote workers work fixed hours, which means they need to log onto their computers and be online at specific hours. Even if you're remote, you still need to work similar hours as the rest of your team to communicate and collaborate effectively.
If you've been working as a freelancer for some time and are thinking about switching to a remote work career, remember that your daily schedule is going to change drastically.
2. Get familiar with apps and technology.
Everything happens at home. So to be part of a virtual team, you need to become familiar with certain apps and tools. Typically, your manager will let you know which tools you'll be using -- such as Zoom for meetings, or Slack for daily communication.
Additionally, there are certain tools necessary for training and on-boarding when you first join your team. 70% of remote workers say their companies provide online training with the help of a learning management system (LMS). An LMS is widely used by companies to onboard new hires, so it's likely the first tool you'll come across.
Communication apps is also the number one tool used regularly by remote workers. When asked to name the tools they use the most, 27% of remote workers said Skype, 14% said Dropbox, and 25% said both WhatsApp and Google Hangouts.
3. Work on your communication skills.
Most of TalentLMS's survey respondents chose communication as the most essential skill aspiring remote workers should master.
After you get a grasp on the communication apps and software your company uses to send emails and direct messages, it's critical you monitor how they use them.
For instance, which channels do they use for which purposes? Do they typically create an email thread when they want to provide feedback on a new project, or use direct message? Are team members more "official" when chatting with one another, or more laidback? Try to imitate their tone of voice and language so you can connect with them more effectively.
Additionally, figure out which channels or group chats your team engages with most often. Perhaps they often send motivational articles in a team Slack channel, or use a spreadsheet to share trending news articles.
Whatever the case, make sure your messages are clear, concise, and proofread.
4. Learn how to focus.
Although most of us find it easy to focus when we're at home, working from home can be incredibly distracting. For instance, perhaps you're working on a new blog post when you remember you have laundry that needs to be folded -- or a new Netflix show to binge.
According to a 2018 survey by Buffer, 16% of remote employees say they feel distracted when working from home.
Ultimately, to find success as a remote employee, you need to practice focus.
Fortunately, remote workers from TalentLMS's survey have found a trick. To help themselves focus, 25% of respondents say they work by the sound of some background noise (from sources like a TV or radio), 21% concentrate in silence, and another 21% focus by listening to meditative music.
Ultimately, if you're finding it difficult to focus, figure out which environmental factors can help you increase productivity. Changing background noise, lighting, time-of-day, or room of the house in which you work can all help you become more focused.
5. Develop your time management and organizational skills.
If you're a remote worker, you need to be self-disciplined. It's vital you know when to work hard and when to take breaks throughout your at-home workday, particularly since you don't have the pressure of your manager or peers to keep you on-task.
Ultimately, to organize your work days wisely, you need to develop organizational and time management skills.
Try creating a task list every night and write down your tasks in order of priority. This simple method will help you get more work done and distribute your eight hours accordingly. Alternatively, try the pomodoro technique or another productivity hack to keep yourself accountable.