11 Remote Work Skills that Drive Performance and Productivity

By Bill Peatman | Updated: 28 Dec, 2022

Are you worried about the productivity and performance of your remote team(s)?

CEOs are.

Number 1 Challenge is Remote Performance

The Predictive Index CEO Benchmarking Report found that 97 percent of CEOs support remote work moving forward. And 76 percent support full-time remote work for all or most employees. Yet 51 percent of those same CEOs said "working well remotely" is the number one challenge they face.

If that that 51 percent includes you, read on.

How to Develop and Sustain Remote Work Skills

Remote work is here to stay, but CEOs are worried about team performance in a remote or hybrid work world. Most of us are still learning the skills needed to make remote work more than a survival mechanism to make it through an emergency—how to thrive as all or mostly remote businesses.

Prialto has been building and managing remote teams for more than a decade. Along the way, we have learned what remote work skills matter. It is not all about tools and technology like Zoom and Slack. You can teach people to use new tech. So-called "soft skills" are far more critical. As HR speaker and author Josh Bersin said, "let's stop talking about soft skills: they are power skills."

11 Essential Remote Work Skills

"The skills of the future on not technical," Bersin said. "They are behavioral." Having trained hundreds of remote assistants that support U.S. executive teams, here are 11 essential remote work skills we identified that you could start building today.

  1. Organization—organizational skills are among the most important because you are on your own to be productive when working remotely. Setting goals, scheduling, and prioritizing are critical. Also critical are file management, inbox organization, and information management skills that streamline workflows.
  2. Time-management—time management is often included in organization skills, but it is different. Time management means getting work done on schedule with a reasonable amount of effort. You set expectations for how long tasks should take and monitor whether you are meeting those goals.
  3. Communication—clear, consistent communication set expectations for performance. If you are not clear about what success means for each of your team members, they could flounder. At Prialto, we keep essential one-on-one conversations public in shared messaging channels or email chains so that everyone can see what was discussed and decided. You cannot assume other people will find out about decisions and changes.
  4. Feedback—closely related to communication, your team should be eager to give and receive feedback. We poll our workers daily on their work success to catch any problems early and get back on the same page quickly, for example.
  5. Responsiveness—you will also need to agree on appropriate response times for email, chat, voice mail, and other messages. For example, we train our assistants to respond to instant messages within 15 minutes and emails within 30 minutes. Radio silence can sew distrust and cause anxiety about performance and productivity.
  6. Collaboration—you must be more intentional about teamwork when working remotely. This deliberate approach is critical with multi-employee teams. It is best to store and share teams' work in file storage apps like Box or internal wiki pages. Make sure the documents are named such that their purpose and the process are clear.
  7. Documentation—document all repeatable work processes so that everyone knows how to complete them. For example, if you are a marketing team, define and verify the content review process before publishing blogs, case studies, etc. The more of these processes you can turn into checklists, the better.
  8. Decision-making—employees need to know what tasks and decisions they are empowered to make on their own. Daily check-ins will identify areas where a project or decision did not work out as planned. That’s ok. Make a quick course correction without judgment or blame. You want people to bring up problems or mistakes, not hide them.
  9. Resourcefulness—you do not want to hold your virtual teammate's hands, especially when you are not in the same office. People need to take the initiative and speak up when blocked, do not understand directions, or hit unforeseen obstacles. Again, make sure they all feel comfortable raising issues.
  10. Problem-solving—related to resourcefulness is problem-solving. Resourcefulness will help teammates overcome temporary or one-time obstacles. Problem-solving skills enable employees to identify process-oriented barriers that make workflows less efficient and successful. Spotty internet at home is a temporary barrier that might slow down a project because you cannot make video calls. A resourceful solution is to go to a coffee shop to finish your work. A problem-solving approach is to upgrade your internet account for long-term efficiency.
  11. Flexibility—everyone must be flexible on remote teams. Many have learned this through the initial shift to remote work in 2020. Zoom calls get interrupted by children, internet connections fail, mistakes happen.

Working Well Remotely

There were 16.8 million remote workers before the pandemic. By 2025, that number will reach more than 36 million. Sixteen percent of today's remote workers are managers. If the biggest challenge CEOs face is "working well remotely," getting managers and reports on the same remote-work page is critical to productivity and performance. Developing these remote work skills will ensure your teams have the power skills needed to succeed.