People sometimes have this misconception that remote work is easy peasy. The truth is not everyone can be productive in a remote setting. There are specific remote worker traits you need to have to get the job done. Otherwise, it’s gonna be a tough ride for you.
Here’s the good news — most of these traits can be developed. All it takes is the willingness to start developing new habits fit for the remote work setting.
Remote Worker Traits You Should Have To Get Hired
Although the work itself may be similar to what you do in the office, a lot of the things that come with it would be different in a remote setting.
The mere fact that the entire team isn’t working in the same location automatically changes the dynamics.
Here are a few remote worker traits that employers look for to build a highly effective team.
Strong communication skills
People who work together in the same office have the chance to visit each other’s desks and discuss details of their work. But in a remote setting, yours is the only desk you get to visit at home.
This is why it’s extremely important that virtual assistants are intentional in communicating with their team when working in a remote setting. The physical distance of one person to another may pose a challenge, but there are so many ways to communicate that do not require everyone to be a few feet away from each other.
And when we say communication skills, it’s not just the ability to write or talk. It’s also the discipline to know when to reach out to your superiors or colleagues.
Frequent updates are important. A remote worker needs to be intentional about letting his/her boss or client know where you’re at with the task assigned to him/her, especially if the work impacts somebody else’s. A lot of teams use productivity tools that measure how far along each person is on their task — take advantage of that.
The moment you encounter a roadblock, make sure you voice it out asap as well. This is not the time to be shy. Problems become bigger when they are not addressed in a timely manner. By failing to communicate with other virtual assistants who can help you out, you are potentially triggering a series of unfortunate events.
Ability to collaborate
Some of the best work is done through teamwork, something that only happens when you are willing to collaborate.
This trait is even more important in a remote setting because, again, you are not in close proximity to the people you are working with. This means that it’s even easier to isolate yourself and bury yourself in busy work, never talking to anyone about anything. THAT’S the fastest way to fail in the remote biz.
Open your mind to your team’s ideas, and be prepared to share your own ideas as well. Remember that no matter how good you are, there will always be a few ideas that you may not think of. By collaborating with other remote workers, you can get more input and potentially come up with better solutions.
If your productivity relies on other people giving you random pats on the back, let me tell you as early as now that this is not something you’ll always get when working remotely.
Yes, your boss or client may send you the occasional hi and hello via chat, but when things get busy, it’s easier to feel lonely and unappreciated unless you train your mind to think differently.
This is why it is important for remote workers to be self-motivated. When other virtual assistants are quiet, you have to be able to get rid of that feeling of dread and remind yourself that people become busy. It’s nothing personal. You need to be able to work without getting a “Good job!” for every achievement.
Otherwise, you will not only be seen as overly clingy and needy, but you may also end up disrupting the natural workflow of other people just because you want them to check on you and communicate with you every so often.
Organization and prioritization
Remote workers have more freedom to work the way they want. This means that you can become a remote worker regardless if you just dump all your files on your desktop or have everything properly labeled in sub-categories, saved neatly in their respective folders.
But this doesn’t mean that you have the license to be disorganized to the point that you can’t find your own files. Just because you have the freedom to organize things the way you want doesn’t mean that your chaos does not impact other people’s work.
The same thing goes for the prioritization of tasks. You have to organize your thoughts according to what’s the top priority. There will be times when you have a ton of to-dos on your list. Know which ones are needed first so that you won’t have to cram and cause delays.
One of the biggest perks of working remotely is the fact that almost everything is flexible. Employers are generally open to letting you work the way you want.
However, this does not mean that you’ll have your way all the time. This means that remote workers would have to be adaptable to any changes, especially when it comes to routines and practices that do not correspond to the work at hand.
An employer may require a virtual assistant to use a tool that’s different from the one they’re used to, for example. Your boss may also want to integrate some practices that were not originally part of your routine.
Video calls, for example, may happen more frequently, especially when you’re working on a big project. These frequent catch-ups compensate for the distance across the team.
If you’re part of a startup, you may also find yourself working on tasks that are usually assigned to someone else in a traditional setup. Because the business is still in its early stages, budget and manpower constraints may push you to have more coverage than usual.
Working remotely means that your boss won’t really be able to hover around you and watch you work every minute. Sure, there are tools they can use to monitor your progress. But the best way to prove that you’re good at what you do is through the results you achieve.
This is why it’s extremely important to really understand what your team is trying to achieve. What targets are you after? What’s the big picture?
A remote worker can’t just focus on getting one task done after the other. It’s about asking yourself whether each task you accomplish is bringing you closer to your team’s ultimate goals.
Tips on How to Become a Huge Success When Working Remotely
Let’s say you’ve proven that you have most, if not all, of the traits listed above. This doesn’t mean you’ll automatically ace remote work.
To help you become successful in your chosen industry (while working remotely, of course), here are a few tried-and-tested tips:
Tip #1: Stick to a schedule.
One of the biggest perks of a virtual assistant is having the freedom to work at your own pace. But this doesn’t mean you can go crazy and work whenever you want. That’s only gonna lead you to a downward spiral of procrastination and lack of productivity.
Create a daily schedule, then stick to it. Once you get used to a routine, there’ll be less room for error and cramming.
Having a fixed schedule also allows you to be more flexible, although that may seem like two opposing ideas. You see, when you have a fixed schedule that you follow strictly, you’ll have fewer backlogs. This means that anytime a friend asks you to have coffee, or if you decide to work at a different location, you can easily get up, pack your laptop and go anywhere without worrying that you’re losing valuable time.
Having a fixed schedule also helps in terms of prioritizing tasks. A remote worker can, for example, work on the easy tasks in the morning so that you can have the rest of the day to work on more challenging ones. At least you’ve already crossed a bunch of things off your list, even if you take a long time to complete other tasks later on.
Tip #2: Communication is key.
You’ve read it earlier. One of the most important remote worker traits is the ability to communicate effectively. Make the most out of that trait!
Be intentional in keeping the lines open not only between you and your boss but among all team members. Even a casual good morning every time the day starts can get everyone to send their own greetings as well.
Mind you, this is not just for the sake of being friendly. It’s also a great way to get everyone used to the idea of talking, even if it’s just through chat. This makes it less awkward for virtual assistants to talk about work should the need arise.
Always make sure you notify the right person right away the moment an issue arises. Even the smallest question should be verbalized right away. You guys aren’t working in the same room, so no one will see your panicked face and ask you what’s wrong.
Tip #3: Have a dedicated workspace.
Yes, one of the biggest perks of working from home would be having the ability to work just about anywhere.
A remote worker can lie on the carpet, lounge on the sofa, or sit on the grass while working. It doesn’t matter! You can even go out of town and continue tapping away on your keyboard by the beach or on top of the mountains.
However, not having an area solely dedicated to work could also become a source of distraction. This is why a virtual assistant needs a work corner where he/she can do nothing else but work, work, work!
Make sure this corner is away from the TV, the fridge, the bed, and anything else that could hinder you from being amazingly productive.
Does this mean you can’t work anywhere else? Absolutely not! This only means that on regular work days, you can stay here in this little productivity area. Then, when you find yourself in a stump or in need of a change of pace or environment, then you can freely set yourself up elsewhere.
Tip #4: Don’t underestimate the power of productivity tools.
A lot of people have resisted the urge to download (much less pay for) productivity tools available in the market.
“I have my own system.” “I don’t need that extra expense.” “I’d rather list everything down on my old trusty notepad.”
Although we understand that people have their own way of doing things, productivity tools are often built to cater to anybody’s preferences and whims.
Why do you need a productivity tool?
Obviously, it helps remote workers keep track of how productive they are. Most tools also send you reminders about tasks you should be finishing right about now (a helpful feature if you’re a toxic procrastinator). A lot of these tools also allow virtual assistants to integrate different other tools into their system. This means that every aspect of your work becomes even more seamless.
Don’t worry, a lot of remote employers provide tools for their employees and freelance workers. But it doesn’t hurt to try out a few other tools that could fit your routine better.
Tip #5: Learn, learn, learn.
You may have extensive experience and knowledge in the field. But this doesn’t mean you know everything.
The thing about technology is that it keeps bringing something new to the table. This means that what you knew yesterday may not have much impact today.
This is why you have to be open to new learnings all the time. Remember that one of the most important remote worker traits is adaptability, and being adaptable means you’re also ready to try new things.
But don’t rely on your boss or client to tell you what new stuff you need to learn about. be proactive about your learning. Check out industry news and explore other perspectives.
You don’t even have to stick to your own field or specialization. Since a lot of remote employers run startups, this means that some of you may be asked to handle different tasks. So look into other areas that would help the business in its entirety, and not just your own department.
Tip #6: Don’t forget to take breaks.
We’ve given you so many tips on productivity, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stop working! In reality, you need to take as many breaks as you need, especially if it’s a toxic day or week where all the deadlines are looming over your head.
There is always a misconception that if you want to be more productive, you should work more. But overworking yourself without taking any breaks sets your brain on edge. This means that you’ll get less creative, less mindful, less bright, and more reactive.
So even if you have a million deadlines coming up, don’t deprive yourself of a proper break. Take short breaks by stepping outside and taking a few deep breaths of fresh air.
And please don’t consider quick peeks at your phone or playing a game on your console an ideal break time. Although you can do this every so often, make sure you also take breaks that take you away from the screen. This allows not only your brain but your eyes to stop and recharge as well.
Tip #7: Socialize!
Even the most introverted person in the world has to socialize in one way or another. Just because you’re happy enough working on your own in your little corner does not mean it’s you against the world. Taking the time out to socialize will help get your creative juices flowing.
Schedule meet-ups with friends. Do what you love doing outside the house. Make sure you have conversations with people outside of the digital setting (yes, chatting through messaging apps does not count as socializing).
Some remote workers who live near each other even schedule meet-ups. They even plan to work together a few times each month, sometimes working at a coffee shop or at a co-working space. Who knows? Your peers may have a few good ideas that you haven’t thought of that could greatly contribute to the work that you’re doing.
Tip #8: Take care of yourself.
Self-care is something that a lot of remote workers forget. After all, you’re working inside the house, most of the time, without anyone else seeing you. This means that you can skip the shower, skip the outdoor clothes and stay in your pajamas and stay in bed the whole day (while working, of course).
But self-care also helps boost a virtual assistant’s confidence, and the amount of confidence affects productivity. Even a quick shower can wake you up and boost your brain activity.
Self-care also means keeping yourself healthy. When you work in a regular office setting, getting sick means you need to stay at home and recuperate. But when you work from home, sometimes, you need to work even if you’re in bed. This means doing the usual tasks you do with your brain not working at full speed.
Be mindful of the food you eat and the hours of sleep you get. Make sure you don’t let yourself go, too. You may not have co-workers complaining about the stink, but it doesn’t exactly make your working state (mental, emotional, and physical) ideal, either.
Tip #9: Know what you’re good at.
Don’t just look for remote work for the sake of getting remote work. You may have all the remote worker traits listed above, but if you have zero ideas about your own skills and talents, you might not reach your full potential (yes, it’s a cliche, but it’s the truth).
Look at your own experience, but make sure you list down all of your traits and skills as well. You may have been stuck in a job that’s all logic and no creative magic, only to discover that your creative juices are out of this world when activated.
If you want to find out how to find jobs that match your skills, read this.
Knowing what you’re good at also helps you see your own weaknesses. This allows you to know where you need to improve.
Tip #10: Know where to hang out.
If you’re new in the remote industry, you should know that remote jobs don’t just show up everywhere. There are specific websites where employers look for remote workers. That’s where you should be hanging out.
Here are some VA agencies Employers look at:
Some best freelancer platforms to hire a virtual assistant are:
eVirtualAssistants is one of those sites where you can get legitimate clients and employers without fear of being scammed. Here, you’re protected as a remote worker, with the site administrators making sure that you get paid right.
Scared of being scammed? Here’s how to avoid just that.
Interested in getting started on a remote career? Click here now!