8 Ways to Enhance Remote Employee Skills
It’s not just about what you learn – it’s also important how you learn it.
There’s a lot of talk about which remote working skills are a must-have. The listicles are endless, but also incomplete, if we’re not talking about how exactly remote employees can be picking up all these skills.
So, we decided to give you the full picture. We won’t just tell you which skills elevate remote work according to research, we’ll also give you eight different approaches to developing new skills.
Make new skills stick, by choosing the right way to teach them. Let’s get learning.
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Why you want to start enhancing your remote employee skills
It’s more than ‘same skills, different environment’. Remote work does require a lot of the same skills as are needed in a traditional working environment, but there are additional skills that can help people (and businesses) thrive. Here are some reasons you’ll want to start prioritizing skill development for your remote team.
Reason 1: Future proofing your employees means future proofing your business
If you hadn’t noticed it this year, technological advancements are going fast. In November 2022, Ai wasn’t as hot a topic as it is now. New jobs have formed and others have gone, and other tools and companies are popping up constantly. Future proofing your employees equals future proofing your business.
Reason 2: Employee retention
One of the things that is the same in remote and in-office companies, is that employees leave if they aren’t being supported or invested in. And the numbers don’t lie: 94% of employees are willing to stay working there for longer if a company invests in helping them learn.
Offering skill development opportunities can increase job satisfaction and loyalty, which is crucial in the remote work setting where switching jobs may be as easy as changing a Wi-Fi connection.
Reason 3: You need self-managing professionals
We need to stop thinking remote work is for everyone. It is absolutely necessary that employees are proficient in self-management. In offices, there’s often more support and accountability, because people around you are working as well. At home, it’s often easier to slip into something comfortable and think ‘I’ll do that later’. You need employees who are able to plan, focus, and execute. Investing in these skills reduces the need for micro-management and increases productivity and initiative among employees.
What skills are worth investing in for your remote employees?
There are role-specific skills, and then there are remote-specific skills. Research done on the skills that are needed for remote work show that technological literacy, communication skills and a solid work ethic is what helps people thrive. So, let’s look at some relevant skills to sharpen as a remote team.
Focus and time management
One of the main skills needed for remote work is the skill of maintaining focus. Yes, for a large part, this is a skill that can be trained. Teach your employees about different techniques they can use, and supply them with tools such as a Pomodoro timer to further aid their focus time.
Specialized digital skills
This goes beyond the generic skills and ability to open a PDF. Teach employees how to use specific tools that can up their productivity. ChatGPT, Asana, Trello – investing in proper training in these tools make sure you make the most out of the software people use, and it improves efficiency. If you’re using specific tools, see if there is special training material available for them. For instance if you’re working with planning tools, give your employees who need it a workshop on how to effectively create a shift schedule over 24 hours, or how to plan PTO. It’ll benefit everyone.
Ergonomic training for home
Teach your remote employees what a great ergonomic setup can look like. Of course, there will be slight differences for everyone, but raise awareness on posture, movement and more. You don’t want your remote employees to have to call in sick because they fell out of their hammock.
Data security matters in every business, but even more so for those operating remotely. Employees are connected to all kinds of networks and using all types of devices, so you want to make sure they know what safety protocols to stick to.
Mindfulness and stress management
Teach your employees how to put boundaries! One of the major issues with remote work is (to some surprise) burnout. People who work from home often struggle with shutting off, and end up overworking themselves and lose the ability to relax. Teaching your employees to practice mindfulness (in whichever way works for them, it is different for everyone) and how to manage stressful situations will make them happier, more effective people.
Remote leadership and remote communication
How can you be a great manager to people you see barely? How can you be a supportive co-worker without being able to look across the desk and say ‘here if you need me!’? One of the struggles with remote work is that parts of collaboration and support become more difficult because you have to actively reach out to people. Being a great leader and a great co-worker requires new skills, and investing in these will drastically influence the way people work – and how they enjoy it.
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Ways to do it sharpen the skills of your remote employees
Dozens of roads lead to Rome – or wherever your remote employees are working from. Let’s explore eight different ways you can enhance their skill development. Mix and match as you please!
1. Peer-to-peer skill sharing
People are already deep into software and screens when working remotely. Add in a more human factor when it comes to skill sharpening, and see if you can let your employees train each other.
Chances are some people have more specific advanced skills and they are keen to share them with others. Not only is this a fun way of learning, it is also super relevant for your company, because teammates know how things work within a company.
2. Better onboarding with personal video content
Teach them young. Make skill development part of your onboarding process. You could consider doing a test to see what skills to prioritize in the early stages and create a long-term learning plan based on this.
For onboarding, look beyond standardized online training programs. Add in some personal videos of people in different roles who do part of the training, so onboarding becomes a team effort (and new hires get to know the team). International team? Make sure to translate video content so nobody misses out on any valuable information.
It doesn’t always have to be a day-long workshop or an hour-long online course. Gamify learning by adding a little microlearning into everyone’s day. This could be by sharing tips and tricks through Slack or internal newsletters, or by making it part of meetings.
4. Theme months or weeks
When there’s a learning program running in the background, people often forget about it and focus on the day-to-day work. To prevent that, launch weeks or months with specific themes around specific skills, so there’s a clear start to end, and more engagement around a topic.
5. Cross-functional projects
Learn by doing! Make sure that remote employees get the opportunity to collaborate on projects happening in other departments. This will help them look at things from a different perspective, and they get to develop new skills.
6. Professional development stipends
At the end of the day, everyone works and learns differently. Talk to your employees to find out what their preferred way of learning new skills is, and grant them a learning budget to follow courses, attend conferences or anything else that’ll boost their progress.
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7. Gamification of skill development
Why not make it a friendly competition? Find a way to gamify everyone’s learning development. It shouldn’t be a race of how quickly anyone can click through a course – instead, focus on quality. For instance, if there’s company-wide training, let people present in small groups how they’ll implement their new-found skills. Best one wins.
Yes. You’ve read it right. We’re recommending a classic, an offline tool: good old books. Gift your employees books you think are great to read on specific topics, or give them a budget to buy the books they want to read to further their progress.
How does your remote team want to learn?
The main question to ask yourself is: what are the needs of the people I work with? Some employees will love the idea of books and gobble up new knowledge like never before. Others thrive with peer-to-peer training. Make sure you offer learning paths for everyone, simply by starting to ask: what would you prefer? That way, those skills become more than a box employees can tick off – they become something they actually implement.
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