The world of work has changed tremendously during the past months, along with many aspects of our lives. Even though not all jobs can be performed remotely, quite a lot can be adjusted to the virtual work environment. So much so that the future of work might be hybrid.
Taking a break from the office doesn’t mean taking a break from skill-building. L&D professionals must understand the needs of various workers, identify the competencies needed to be successful, and design training programs that support the development of the required skills.
The first step in ensuring that employees continuously develop their skills and competencies, regardless of where they are located when working, is to actually take a step back and conduct a training needs analysis. This will help find answers to questions like:
- What’s the size of the remote workforce?
- What are the types of work and interactions that happen online?
- What specific hard skills or soft skills do remote employees need?
- How are remote learners’ needs different than those of in-office/on-field workers?
- What’s the available technology that makes remote work possible?
- How well do people know how to use that technology?
- What other resources are available or needed?
Read more: The need for a Training Needs Analysis
Once the starting point gets clearer, it’s time to create learning and training strategies that help remote workers build the needed skills needed to perform in a virtual work environment.
8 Practical skills remote employees need to develop right now
To empower remote employees and make their work-from-home experience less overwhelming, here are the top skills they should master — and be included in remote skills development programs:
Learning how to learn online
First of all, newly remote employees need to learn how to learn in the online training environment. For this to happen, they need to know why any remote training module is important, how what they’ll learn will fit into their job roles, and which online training resources can help them bridge personal and professional gaps.
Using remote learning technologies
Remote employees also need to know how to use remote learning technologies. Whether we’re talking about the Learning Management System they’ve been using for years or a new virtual conferencing tool, having a few tutorials on how to use certain tools or software that make it possible for people to interact online is the way to go.
Knowing cybersecurity best practices
Another essential skill remote employees need to have is related to cybersecurity. Cyberattacks have increased five-fold since the start of the pandemic, and businesses of all sizes have been affected. Most of the time, human error is an important factor in allowing these attacks to happen. Considering the number of personal devices used by employees to work, everyone must be trained in cybersecurity best practices.
Managing time effectively
Next in line comes the proper use of resources, with a special focus on effective time management. Remote employees have to be able to keep a regular schedule of their activities, prioritize and organize their tasks to meet deadlines, and generally be disciplined to overcome procrastination. It takes time to learn how to do all this successfully, and a training module on time management can only support employees who struggle on this account.
Working on their own
Remote employees need to be aware of the lack of direct supervision and be self-motivated and task-oriented. Otherwise, their performance will suffer, as well as their team. They also need to be open to new challenges and opportunities and ready to avoid, identify and solve any problems that may come up while working from home. This includes task-related issues, as well as troubleshooting basic hardware issues.
Even though everyone is based anywhere but the office, remote workers still need to communicate and collaborate effectively. Luckily, there are plenty of online tools available that support communication in a virtual environment, such as video conferencing, which includes the much-needed visual and non-verbal cues that great conversations are made of.
Change is always a big factor for stress, and people should be given the room and liberty to process things their way. Being empathetic is more important than ever today, and remote employees should be taught to handle all interactions with thoughtfulness and understanding.
Managing the work environment
Last but not least, people who work remotely must learn how to manage their work environment. A dedicated room, the same spot at the dining room table, certain time slots during the day that are blocked for work hours instead of personal or family hours are just a few examples of routines and solutions proven to work.
For many people, the move to working from home was sudden and quite bumpy. Mastering the above soft and hard skills through continuous training opportunities can really make the whole experience better.
Employee skills development requires ongoing support. Skill mastery means constant practice, context, and emotional engagement, and online training programs need to support that. Remote training activities have to happen continuously until the needed skills and behaviors are embedded in the organizational (virtual) culture. And that stands true for everyone — employees and leaders alike. Next time we’ll explore what skills remote leaders need to develop, so keep an eye on the MATRIX Blog!
Graham is the CEO and Founder of CYPHER LEARNING and MATRIX. He is a serial entrepreneur, e-learning enthusiast, published author, and educator.