Important Soft-Skills for A Remote-Worker

There has been a rise in remote working because of the ongoing pandemic. While many offices have started to open up, partially or fully, there are some offices which continue to function WFH. Everything is unpredictable, everyone must be prepared to change their working habits; ‘new normal’ is the new buzzword. But one thing is clear: remote working has gained more importance than ever before, and it is here to stay.

Let us take a look at some soft skills necessary to be an efficient remote worker. While these aren’t new skills, their importance has grown manifold over the past few months. Whether you are a hiring manager tasked with recruiting a remote worker, or an employee wondering how you can be a good remote worker, these qualities are something to look for and develop.

Self-Motivated and Self-Disciplined:

The most important skill when it comes to remote working. In an office environment one is under direct or indirect supervision. When it comes to remote working, that supervision is more or less absent. It becomes the job of the employee to get work done, by themselves. Sometimes, one may even need to set self-imposed deadlines and targets.

The freedom comes with a responsibility of being self-disciplined. The motivation has to come from within while working remotely.

This brings us to the next point.


With the freedom to self-impose deadlines and targets comes the responsibility to stay organised.

An employee must have that organised nature to make the necessary to-do or not-do-lists, to prioritise tasks. This organisation should also be used to recognise at what hours of the day they work the best and at which hours they tend to slack.

Being organised is thus an important skill necessary to sift through the barrage of emails and calls that populate everyone’s minds these days. This takes us to the next point.

Being Tech-savvy:

An in-office employee has the privilege of being there. They can simply knock and enter the room and communicate face to face. A remote worker might be able to communicate face to face through a video call, but they first need to be able to use a video calling app optimally, making use of the extensive features offered.

One needs to be an ideal sender and receiver (more about this later), and that goes hand in hand with the ability to use the tools of communication to their full purpose.

Being tech-savvy is now a necessary soft skill which hiring managers must look for in an employee, and one which employees must constantly upgrade.

The Balancing Act:

A remote worker often has to work independently in the sense that they don’t have the privilege to ask or clarify what might be considered as minor doubts or hiccups; an in-office employee has the freedom to simply ask around.

The ability to make important decisions independently, the ability to consult the right sources at the right time, the ability to decide which questions need a consultation in the first place are some necessary  skills associated with independence which a hiring manager should look for and a remote-working employee should build on.

But this is where it gets tricky. Read on.

A remote worker must be independent but also a good team player. A remote worker, in addition to their own team, may have to deal with multiple departments and teams at certain points. This where all the communication and organisation skills come into play. Co-ordinating projects, brainstorming ideas, managing and delegating tasks remotely not only  require great communication and organisation skills but also require one to be a good team player. Talk about balance! There is one more aspect which needs some balancing. Read on.

Communication Skills:

 An in-office employee may have only moderately well communication skills. Non-verbal cues, facial expressions and body language do the rest. But again, a remote worker doesn’t have that privilege of being there.

It thus becomes necessary that they know how to use their words and tone of voice exceptionally well. There will be a back and forth of calls of all kinds (video and audio), emails and messages. One must have the ability to not only frame all that communication in a clear, concise and coherent manner but also have receptive skills where they read the intended message from the sender correctly. This is what we mean when we say one must be an ideal receiver and an ideal sender. This is where the balance comes in.

Something to keep in mind is that although WFH demands great communication skills, some of us may not be too comfortable with the virtual world. It then becomes necessary to be ready to unhesitatingly ask for help. Consulting people who are more tech-savvy if one feels stuck, consulting seniors before drafting important communication with clients and being open to learning new things are some necessary steps to take. Isn’t this willingness to ask questions unhesitatingly also a part of being communicative?

As we must have realised, remote working is a lot about stepping out of the comfort zone on many levels.  We have come to realise the role of flexibility and adaptability as soft skills. But with these, being self-disciplined and well-organised, being communicative and tech-savvy, being a good team player with an independent mindset are some more necessary soft skills we need to have conversations about.

Thinking Ahead At Present: Life After COVID-19

Everyone has talked a great deal about how to go about with present situation, which has forced us to change our lifestyles. But how about we try to think a little ahead, and try to see how to go about after it’s all over? How do we go about creating, or re-creating our life after COVID-19?

No one really knows when things will entirely “unlock”. Perhaps a wise thing to do right now thus is to utilise this new pace of living and think about some important things about our life and career. Instead of thinking about it when things do get back to normal and ending up getting overwhelmed, it might not be a bad idea to start on a path right now, so we might reach to an answer sooner or later.

A little mental health warning first, before we embark: we are not advocating over-thinking and driving oneself into a panic mode. It is ideal to take one day at a time in the present situation. What we are saying is this: now is a good time to think about all the things we have been sweeping under the carpet since ages, and sort one’s priorities.

The Museum Analogy:

In an article by FastCompany, author of the book “Curating Your Life: Ending The Struggle For a Work-Life Balance”  Gail Golden gives us a wonderful analogy to think in terms of when we are on our path to setting our priorities.

The expression “work-life” balance implies as if we are on a tight-rope, balancing things like an acrobat. Instead of that shaky and stressful analogy, Gail Golden suggests we look at our life the way a curator of a museum does. We think of three or more important “artworks” of our lives, which need care, attention, in other words, the main focus of our museum. The others, the side exhibits, and then those which can be put aside for now.

This a novel way to direct one’s time and energy in the right direction.

But it might get a little tricky…

Gail Golden talks of the difficulties of this approach,

“There are things that you may do because they’re meaningful and enriching for you, and things you do that you don’t like very much but your boss or your family needs you to do them. You cannot ignore the priorities of the people around you. The danger is we make everybody else’s priorities more important than your own all of the time. That’s part of work-life balance that doesn’t work.”

When such a situation arises, mixing approaches can help here. One can resort to making lists of things which go along the lines of being important and urgent, important but not so urgent. One needs to be open to the idea that the necessity and urgency of needs is going to change, and that one does not discard certain “exhibits” out of impulse or unnecessary panic.

When it comes to museums, the past plays an important role.

Think about your own past decisions and why you chose something in the first place to steer clear of impulsive “de-prioritising” of things.

These are the thoughts one now has the time to consider.

A final note: although thinking like a curator of a museum is a good strategy, we cannot stress enough on being flexible and open to new ideas during and after this time. No one knows how the world is going to cope with the normal or even the “new” normal. Having a plan is good, but it is also important that we keep ourselves open to the idea of that plan getting changed.

Looking For A Job in Times Of Lockdown


job hunting in times of lockdown image

While some of us have been trying to balance WFH and the chores of our homes, there are some of us who were job hunting when the lockdown was announced. How does one go about looking for a job in these times of lockdown and social distancing? How does one approach companies when the staff is working from home? Whether you are a fresher who was looking for a launch-pad, or someone who was looking for a new opportunity, this is an uncertain situation to be in.

We bring some tips on how to go about searching for a job in times of the pandemic.


Online Is The Way:

It is important to remember most companies are working, just not in their offices.

We must keep our search and research on. As we have discussed in our articles about researching about companies, we have a lot of resources available online.

List down the companies you are interested to work at, and start checking their websites and social media one by one.

Checking the websites and social media now is a great time, because not only would they give you an idea about their mission statements, their work culture, but would also give you glimpses about how they are handling the entire WFH situation.

A lot of companies would now be more active on their Facebook, LinkedIn pages as a way to engage with customers and clients as much as possible. It is also likely that the companies would be more quick in responding to emails and messages.

What’s more, some companies which earlier were not too responsive on virtual platforms  may now have realised the value of prompt online communication, leading to faster, and more elaborate and specific responses to queries.

Do not be hesitant in sending out emails and queries, provided you are prepared to begin working in unconventional ways, which brings us to the next point.


Be Prepared:

Send out emails to the companies you are interested in working at, but make sure you let them know that you understand that times are uncertain.

Be prepared in case the companies give out vague or ambivalent or diplomatic responses. Some companies might tell they would let you know once things get “normal”, and you might have to wait out the lockdown.

Some might offer a role which can be done through minimal online training or no training and is more suitable for a WFH setup, but this role might be different than what you were originally looking for.

Some might offer a more short-term role, which might be important as long as long you are working remotely, and that which might undergo a change once the situation gets back to normal.

Here, you need to consider the urgency. How urgently do you need a job right now? Considering factors such as past savings, family responsibilities, work experience, internet resources, etc., coupled with the online research you undertook about the company should give you a fair idea about a) which companies to send out emails to, and b) what to expect from each company c) and which offers to consider.


Be Visible and Don’t Stop Networking:

Based on the urgency of your job search, keep networking. As mentioned, now is the time most companies would be quite active on LinkedIn and other online social networking platforms.

Find what online connections you have with the particular companies you are interested in working at; see if you can find a mutual connection and get in touch with them (virtually) if necessary to inquire more about the company and how the company is going about hiring processes.

Cash on in the increased amount of time companies would be spending online. Make your presence visible by posting regularly, engaging in discussions and commenting on posts which you find interesting and useful.


Take Your Time:

In the current situation, it is best not to think too long term. Consider how urgent is landing a job right now. Consider if this is a good time to learn a new skill or get enrolled in a distance learning program? Is this a good time to start a personal project you were thinking about? Is this a good time to take a break?

Be it in times of lockdown or normalcy, looking for a job gives us a certain down time to think things over. And there will be times when you might not have much to do except wait.

Additionally, in conclusion here are some quick pointers you can keep in mind:

  • Be prepared to appear for virtual interviews and calls. Make sure your internet connection and equipment are working well, with a tidy background. Try the lighting, sound and visibility with a friend or a family before you appear for any professional call.
  • Have a plan B. In other words, be prepared in case things don’t work out the way you wanted them to. Plan B could be anything from “settling” for a role which you didn’t particularly like, to “taking a break” from working, to keep looking.
  • Have a fixed routine. Chart up a time table. Fix the timings when you would research and network, and when you would engage in spending time in hobbies, recreation and chores. Do not forget to spend time with friends and family (through phone and video calls if you are living alone, or regularly if you are living under the same roof).
  • Do not be afraid of the gap in your resume. This is an unprecedented situation, and companies in the future would understand the reasons.