Victoria Sambursky

Over 55% of US employees are fully-remote, and as more companies follow this trend, landing a job will be more competitive than ever.

The question now is: Are you ready?

There is an art to successful telework, and the soft skill most in-demand among employers is communication. In fact, 50 percent of hiring managers value this trait. Below, we explore why communication skills are critical for the future of remote work and tips to help develop them.

The Balancing Act

Knowing when to communicate in the virtual workplace is a balancing act. Remote workers need to be assertive in making sure that nothing gets lost in translation. Hiring managers look for candidates who know how to present their ideas consistently and appropriately. But they also need to know when to reel it in.

Harvard Business Review offers solid advice on choosing your digital volume wisely, “Do you follow up on a task by email, text, and phone? Using all of them for the same message is ineffective (not to mention annoying).”

Sharing Information

Virtual employees can’t just drop into someone’s office to give a quick update or share ideas. Proactive communication keeps the remote workplace running smoothly – and creative ideas flowing. When hiring, a recent article in Forbes suggests that managers look for candidates who:

  • Have the soft skills to convey ideas in “bullet points” to keep the workflow moving.
  • Ask questions to avoid confusion and miscommunication.
  • Embrace technologies like Trello and Zoom to collaborate on ideas and share information.

Intent and Productivity

So what does successful communication and intent look like in the virtual workplace? It starts with thoughtful messaging. Questions like, “Did I use the right words to avoid anything from being misinterpreted?” should be asked before hitting send.

When hiring, managers also evaluate how candidates demonstrate productivity. So how can workers show they are invested in their remote jobs without trying too hard? The company Muse suggests:

  • Being responsive and available by email, phone, and instant messaging.
  • Setting clear expectations, such as hard deliverables and deadlines.
  • Being present and engaged during virtual meetings. Use this time wisely to share updates between teams, but don’t waste time with things that stray from the topic.
  • Arriving a bit early to bond with managers.

Picking Up on Tone During Remote Work

Having the ability to evaluate a colleague’s tone is an essential soft skill in telework. During a conference call, it’s important to learn how to detect if a co-worker is confused or holding something back. If this happens, it’s time to pick up the phone, or jump on Zoom, and talk through any issue.

As more interactions happen digitally, honing our communication skills becomes invaluable. How do you plan to boost this skill? Professional development programs are a good place to start. Assessing this skill and seeing how you match up against others in your field can also help. Whatever path you choose to develop your skills will ultimately work to your advantage in landing a solid remote job.

As Bill Gates says, “I’m a great believer that any tool that enhances communication has profound effects in terms of how people can learn from each other.” Well said Bill… well said.