Working from home has many of us wondering if we will ever return to the office. Some of us are thriving with the new work from home lifestyle, while others are itching to return to a more traditional work environment. While we don’t have all the answers, we know that the pandemic has proved to us that working remotely is possible for many more industries than one might think. There are a lot of pros and cons to each situation. On the one hand, working in the office provides a structured feeling of routine, allowing us to communicate face-to-face. While remote work offers a unique opportunity to experience flexibility and create a work-life balance.
There’s no doubt that the job search process has undergone major changes in the past 9 months. So, you might be asking yourself, “what does remote work mean for job seekers?”. If you are eager to enter the job search market, here are a few things you should know.
In the past, it was acceptable to hire employees who had little experience with technology. Most basic work programs are designed to be relatively intuitive, making it easy for the employee to learn as they go. However, now that telecommuting is becoming a common occurrence, it is crucial to hire proficient technology employees. There will be no one with them to walk through the programs your company uses, so they must have experience off the bat. Employers will require applicants to jump on board as soon as they are hired, and they must be able to effectively communicate using virtual tools to be successful. The future of remote work will change the hiring process as we know it, making technology experience an essential skill for candidates.
Having technological literacy is more important now than ever. When applying to jobs, you might notice a new emphasis on technology in the job description. This means that it is critical to explicitly highlight your skills and achievements in technology when crafting your resume, cover letter, and preparing for your interview. Consider “technological literacy” to be a new buzzword that you should include in all of your documents. We can almost guarantee this is a skill that your potential employer will be eagerly looking for when reviewing your qualifications.
The most basic aspects of technological literacy are simple to understand. If you arent already familiar with videoconferencing tools such as Zoom, start watching some tutorials online! Get familiar with simple functions such as screen sharing, messaging, adding a virtual background, turning your video on and off, and learning to mute and unmute yourself. (This is the most important part!) You should also know how to communicate effectively over professional messaging sites such as Slack or Google Teams. If cold calling and having the ability to pick up the phone and talk to clients isn’t your thing, now is the time to practice!
When you think of a typical work environment, you may invasion yourself hard at work with your boss peeking over your shoulder every so often. You might think of collaborative meetings to check-in regularly on progress or intense training sessions. As remote work rises in popularity, so does the demand for self-motivated workers. Working from home requires self-discipline that motivates the employee to get up, get working on-time, and complete projects by deadlines. Expectations for employees will dramatically shift as remote work expands. While most companies understand employees who are currently transitioning to online work and putting less pressure on deadlines, this will not be the case as virtual work continues.
Having the ability to be self-motivated means so much more than simply being able to meet deadlines on-time. For starters, you must be able to set goals for yourself that are attainable and achievable. Effective goal setting is not a skill that comes easily. You must know how to prioritize tasks, know your strengths and weaknesses, and be able to set yourself up for success. Find out what is most important for you to accomplish in your professional life by the end of the week, month, and year. Learn how to set both long-term and short-term goals that will help you have a fulfilling career.
When deciding how to prioritize tasks in your professional life, you must organize goals into two categories, immediate and important.
Think about your current team at work. There are probably some employees who are good at problem-solving, and others…not so much. Some employees need a bit more direction and support than others. However, when working from home, every employee on the team must be a strong problem-solver. This is because remote work requires team members to be much more independent than in a typical office setting. They will need to troubleshoot work challenges, computer glitches, household disruptions, and more.
Challenges and roadblocks will occur. Especially if you are working from home and do not have the resources that would be regularly available to you in the office! This is definitely a skill you’ll want to highlight in an interview when applying for a remote job. Things happen. Power outages, big storms, family issues, personal struggles, and more. It’s all about how you handle these difficulties that matters most!
You must also be able to keep your cool when frustrations occur. When working from home, it can be hard to keep your personal life away from your professional responsibilities. If the kids are acting up or your spouse is on your nerves, don’t let this negative energy creep into your workspace! You must be able to solve problems in every aspect of your life in order to be a successful remote worker.
Since the pandemic, the workforce is experiencing something it never has before. For the first time, everyone is available and accessible 24/7. Have you ever thought to yourself, “because of the pandemic, weekends don’t feel like they exist anymore”! If so, you’re not alone. This is because we are all home, attached to our cell-phones, and constantly seen to be “available.” Thus, it is critical to set boundaries for yourself and keep from getting overwhelmed due to responsibilities at work. Work-life balance is key, and employees will only experience success if they avoid burnout.
Sometimes, you just have to be face-to-face with someone to explain a situation well enough, so they understand. Unfortunately, this is not always possible when working remotely. So, employees must be able to communicate effectively. If that doesn’t work, they must be able to get creative to continue to make progress. This means that employers will seek applicants with great spelling and grammar techniques, who also can respond quickly to urgent messages. Say goodbye to leaving work at 5pm, because remote can sometimes seem like a full-time job. So, expectations for availability will be much more demanding as remote work continues to rise in popularity.
You must be able to communicate effectively in multiple different forms, too. This means writing clear, concise emails, making powerful presentations that can be viewed over video conference, and being able to speak effectively on the phone. This will require you to be familiar with professional language and phrases so that you can keep up with the lingo in the virtual workspace!
Remote work offers the unique opportunity to collaborate with employees who live globally. This can be a unique and exciting experience. However, it will mean that companies should focus on providing increased diversity training so that teams can synergize effectively. Cultural norms and values differ from place to place, so work will become an opportunity to learn more about others from all across the map and complete the task at hand. The importance of diversity training and inclusive teams will heighten, and it will be more important for employees to be adaptable.
Being able to work on a diverse team is an immense privilege. Not everyone gets to experience in their job. However, you must be aware of cultural differences and find ways to build an inclusive virtual workspace. If fellow employees work in a different time zone, make sure to be curious when scheduling meetings and be sure that the time is not too early or late. You should also be respectful of the amount of time it takes for coworkers in different time zones to respond to your messages. The spreadsheet you are working on can wait until the morning! (This goes for communicating with coworkers nearby, too!)
When it comes to building an inclusive workspace, you must be ready to confront employees who are not accepting others. Always call out any acts of prejudice and report the innocent to HR. Act as an advocate for your fellow coworkers and friends. You should also be sure to use inclusive language when speaking about time off, special events, and holidays! Keep in mind that everyone has different traditions and deserves to be able to celebrate accordingly.
How do you handle conflict over the phone with friends and family members in your personal life? It can be easy to simply put down your phone and “ghost” these individuals for a bit until the problem settles. However, this will not be an option when working remotely. You can not block or ghost fellow team members when issues arise. Instead, employees need to have strategies to diffuse conflict remotely. This can be awkward and uncomfortable, but differences must be set aside to get the job done.
When participating in an interview where you are being considered for a remote position, you will likely be asked about your remote conflict resolution style. How do you handle challenges with fellow coworkers when working on a project virtually? What are some strategies you use to diffuse the situation? Think about your responses to these questions, as they might come up during an interview!
When it comes to dealing with conflict directly, there are a few routes you can take in order to solve the problem. First, remember that it is always better to sort out issues over the phone instead of communicating via email. When arguments are put into written words, there is a greater possibility that the message becomes misinterpreted. Even if this situation seems awkward, it is always better to pick up the phone and just call. Avoid sending emails, especially if you are frustrated and acting in the heat of the moment. This might turn out to be a choice you regret later down the road!
Video conference etiquette must become second nature as remote work life continues. This means sitting at a desk, dressed appropriately, with your camera on for meetings! The days of turning your camera off to enjoy a snack off-screen are over. Professionalism over the phone will become expected as time continues, and this etiquette must be common knowledge. You must also set yourself up in a quiet location with a professional background. Update your lighting and sound so that your image is always clear and visible. It is the little details that really make a difference! But hey, you can still wear sweatpants, we won’t tell!
It is also important to avoid eating during video conferences. While this might be okay if you are having a one-on-one meeting with a close coworker, it is best to avoid munching on snacks during larger company calls. Even if you think no one is watching, believe us, they are! It is expected that you log onto the call alert, present, and ready to listen. Try to avoid distractions such as online shopping and playing games on your phone, too. Just be sure to be your best, respectful self during important company calls and conferences. This will reflect well on your character and your attitude about working at the company. Remember that others can see when your eyes begin to wonder!
It is also essential to keep your face in the screen. You must go beyond just turning your camera on! More often than not, conference attendees will be sitting in front of their screens, with only the top of their head showing on the camera. This gives the allusion that you are disengaged and distracted from the material being presented during the meeting. Make sure that the lighting is clear and that your entire, beautiful face can be seen on the screen! (Don’t forget to smile!)
Video conferences are easier to reschedule, move around, or even turn into an email/phone call/another form of virtual communication. Since video conferencing is the closest we can get to meeting in-person, it is essential that you make all meetings and arrive prepared. Hold yourself accountable! This means not falling back and reading off of slides during presentations. You should rehearse before you present, even if the material is right in front of you! This shows that you are a professional employee who cares about their work and knows their stuff! While you are presenting, always try to look directly into the camera instead of staring at yourself on the screen. This will give the other members of the call the illusion that you are speaking directly to them, which enhances the effectiveness of your presentation.
You might not always be aware of this, but meeting hosts often record conference sessions where important material is covered. This goes for college classes and individual sessions, too! While it is common courtesy for the meeting host to alert everyone that the session is being recorded, this is not always the case. Sometimes, hosts might assume that attendees know that the session is being recorded. So, you should always assume that when you are on camera, you are being recorded, too!
Remote work likely isn’t going away anytime soon. So, why not take command of your professional life and improve your practices? Follow these tips to adjust to working from home while still remaining productive!
What does remote work mean for job seekers in your industry? Connect with us on social media and let us know! We would love to hear from you.
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