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As more and more people are working from home analysis interest is growing in what makes for an effective remote worker.
Until Covid-19 hit, only a fraction of the workforce worked from home full time. They were often people with hard to find skillsets who were able to carve out their own path and/or people who needed remote working in order to balance other domestic or caring demands.
They found themselves having to adapt to a situation where informal information channels are less available and where the dangers of being out of sight and out of mind where only too real. But what made some thrive in this environment and how can this benefit us now that many more people are working in this way?
A new report, Full Remote Skills: What Skills Does An Effective Teleworker Need?, focuses on the key skills that high-performing remote workers have developed to ensure they don’t fall behind when out of sight: self awareness, an ability to resolve complex problems, an ability to identify who they could turn to in times of need and an ability to understand their organisation.
The report is based on a study by EM Normandie which analyses the career paths, performances and behavioural skills of a group of 317 French remote workers between 2009 and 2019. It says high-performing remote workers tend to be autonomous and self-motivated. They have a good understanding of their resources and those of their organisation and are comfortable with complexity.
They can work the organisation and don’t have to constantly go through their line manager and know how to promote their achievements. The report says: “This skill means that other workers can visualise their output despite not being able to see it with their own eyes. It means that they are not forgotten and that their actions form part of the company’s day-to-day operations.”
They can also remain visible despite their physical absence so that their achievements are acknowledged. However, the report says that because they focus on being intelligible, they are more likely to emphasise respect for processes and conformity than innovation. Innovation can, however, be encouraged – especially now with more employees working remotely – through creating project teams and tools and testing ideas with remote workers.
The report says the main disadvantage remote workers face is invisibility and how other colleagues see them which they can compensate for by telling colleagues about their working day through sharing their schedule and what they have been doing through both work-related and personal anecdotes. The report says not everyone finds this easy so managers need to ensure that everyone is given the time and means to express themselves.
The report concludes: “As teleworking becomes more widespread, ensuring the success of these workers from home will be crucial and managers will need to make that their skills are closely aligned with those needed for effective performance. Failing that, such skills will need to be developed.”