Learning & Development, Recruiting, Talent

Remote Work as a Key Job Skill

With the sudden and ongoing shift to remote work for millions of American employees, many are starting to speculate that working from home (WFH) may be part of the “new normal” in a post-COVID world, even after the necessity of the work arrangement has passed.

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This begs the question: Will the ability to work effectively from home become a job skill employers look for in their hiring process?

Working from Home as the New Normal

According to survey results published by Willis Towers Watson, roughly three-quarters of employers adjusted their workplaces in response to COVID-19; 53% report that their full-time employees are now WFH.

The Willis Towers Watson survey also found that employers expect two-thirds of their workforce to be working in person on-site full time in the post-COVID-19 world.

That’s certainly more than half, and it’s more than the 37% who are currently working on-site, but it’s a big dip from last year, when 87% were working in person.

Not All Employees Thrive in a WFH Environment

The logistical challenges of shifting significant proportions (or even all) of a company’s workforce to remote work are enough to make any manager cringe. But logistics are not the only challenge.

Some employees simply aren’t great at WFH, and many don’t even like the arrangement. According to a survey by Fishbowl, roughly 55% of respondents said they would choose WFH as their new normal. That’s more than half but certainly not an overwhelming majority. Even employees who prefer to WFH might lack some of the traits necessary to do so effectively.

Traits of Effective WFH Employees

So what exactly would comprise a WFH skill set? A few come to mind, such as independence, organization, time management, technical aptitude for telecommunications technologies, and the ability to develop and maintain strong relationships.

As WFH arrangements become less of an exception and more of a standard practice in many industries, these are the types of skills employers should consider looking for when hiring new staff.

It’s also a good idea to work on developing those skills where they might be lacking in existing staff—learning and development leaders can play an important role in this process.