Employers spend a lot of money on conferences and training courses to develop their staff. ‘Find your real motivation’, ‘Effective communication’, Time-management’, to name a few, but the common thread is always that real behavioral change happens outside people’s comfort zone.

Currently, the global working community is on the steepest learning curve ever. We are part of the largest remote working experiment conducted in history where people find themselves abruptly placed outside their comfort zone. We have no other option than to quickly internalize the different phases of a learning cycle to experience, reflect, learn, change, (repeat). People show resilience and adaptability.

We should all be proud of ourselves!!!

This is Part 3 of our Remote Work & COVID-19 Response Series. Last week we discussed how (Bi)weekly 1:1s are considered the glue that holds the performance management process together which is essential in the current COVID-19 situation.

This week we will zoom in on the individual skills needed to effectively work remotely and feel engaged with day-to-day work.

We will focus on:

  • How soft skills are key to remote work

  • How to improve soft skills via peer feedback

  • Peer review example questions

How soft skills are key to remote work

Soft skills are personal attributes such as leadership, communication, or time management. Hard skills, on the other hand, are related to specific technical knowledge and training such as speaking a foreign language or the ability to use computer programs. Just like hard skills, a person’s soft skills are crucial to success, yet often overlooked.

Nobody works in a vacuum, people still need to interact. Working remotely effectively requires a lot of communication, self-management, and collaboration especially when working on projects over a video call. In the “new normal”, hard skills are useless without soft skills.

We would like to share with you 5 soft skills our colleagues have demonstrated during this remote work switch that has proven crucial for successful teamwork and overall progress.

  • Communication- Making sure to stay aligned and updated. Ask those ‘dumb sounding questions’ to make sure that you understand exactly what is said. Write down what was discussed so everyone is in the loop if they missed a meeting. Quote: “I over-communicate and actively reach out when I need something. I plan actions and meetings ahead, and call my colleagues out when meetings are postponed or canceled.”

  • Self-Awareness- Know yourself and what brings you energy. Make sure to do more of the things that bring you energy during the day. Quote: “I used to get motivated by people around me and now I have to motivate myself and create a work environment that suits my needs for excitement.”

  • Discipline / Time Management - Find a routine and stick to it. Make a to-do list of three things you will do that day and finish them. It will give you a sense of accomplishment. Quote: “I started working in my pajamas and forgot about lunch, but it turns out that sticking as close as possible to my regular business routine works best.”

  • Initiative / Decision making- Step up and own your decisions. Take the initiative and get a feeling for what decisions you can make by yourself and which ones you need to consult. Quote: “I need to take matters into my own hands if nobody is available. I learned to make decisions with only 60% of the information.

  • Adaptable / Flexible- Get your work done in a way that suits you. Working remotely is all about delivery and output, whilst obviously still attending required meetings. Quote: “I had the feeling that I needed to be online all day every day. Now I feel more comfortable going to get a coffee / to go for a walk / call my family during work hours and work later instead.

How to improve soft skills via peer feedback

Do your Pulse Survey results show that employees want more feedback and recognition? One way to continue the performance management process and ensure employees are maximizing their learning from this remote working experience is to run a peer review on remote working skills.

In a peer review, individuals receive feedback from colleagues with a focus on developing each other's strengths and weaknesses. A self-assessment can be included to let employees evaluate their own strengths and weaknesses. Peer Reviews are a great way for peers to share visions on what success looks like, and help each other become more successful.

Peer review example questions

Find out how to run a Peer Review, and see our example questions and template communication here.

With a Peer Review focused on remote working skills, you allow your workforce to keep learning and develop into rounded resilient professionals who are ready for the next challenge.

Next in our series

In this post, we shared what skills and competencies are needed for an individual to effectively work remotely. Next in our Remote Work & COVID-19 Response series, we will focus on the skills and competencies that managers need to effectively manage remote teams.

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