Remotely Successful: The 6 Critical Skills Remote Workers Need To Master Today!

There’s one colossal mistake many remote workers are committing each time they turn up at their workstations.

You know what it is?

It is not fully realising just how different the remote game actually is.

The gig they’re on requires a different mix of skills and challenges, which is why not all can be successful at it.

Sure, there are transferable skills. Communication chops, for example, will always be important whether one works at a traditional office or telecommutes from home.

But even “communication skills” become very different when implemented on a global and virtual scale, such that a very good communicator in an office setting can find it challenging to effectively communicate with faceless colleagues on Zoom.

The modalities are different.

So let’s go through some of the critical skills remote workers need to master if they want to be successful in working from home.

(In other words, seeing as remote work is here to stay, here are the things you need to do to future-proof your career.)

#1 Self-Management

The virtue of remote work is the unparalleled autonomy. Nobody’s physically breathing down your neck or watching over your shoulders. You can design your work day and have at it.

But independence is a double-edged sword. Without the imposed strictures of a traditional office setting, the lone remote worker must muster enough self-discipline to stick to self-imposed schedules, eschew the usual environmental distractions and maintain productivity.

He has to be proactive in managing his time, setting goals, and prioritising tasks.

Above all, in a set-up where results and deliverables are emphasised, he must have enough self-awareness to know when he’s not being productive, or when his creative juices are running dry.

He should also know how to draw effective boundaries between work and family, (who are just a few feet away).

Unfortunately, self-management is not something that comes naturally to everybody. And this skill can dictate long-term success, in addition to the skills required to do the particulars of any job.

#2 A Knack for Collaboration

Face-to-face team dynamics is hard enough. The task becomes that much more complicated when you’re trying to collaborate across miles and across time zones.

Because of the lack of nonverbal feedback in text messages, audio calls, and even video calls, communication becomes very tricky. Not only is the timing off but so much information is left out when nonverbals drip low.

Remote workers who thrive are those who can make things work despite high ambiguity. These will be thick-skinned professionals who don’t get easily triggered by late responses, incomplete responses or unconcluded conversations.

But they themselves can communicate with clarity and can even sprinkle in a humour or two.

These are not abrasive but collaborative. They are not demanding but requesting.

Successful remote workers are easy to work with because they understand that people have their own challenges. They are kinder and more understanding of colleagues.

In short, a high-EQ won’t hurt.

#3 A Flair for Influence

This one’s closely related to the previous skill but deserves a separate discussion.

Just because you’re working alone at home doesn’t mean you are doing the work alone. As a remote worker, you need to persuade, negotiate and motivate colleagues and stakeholders to a certain cause or action. (And how do you do that when you have “problem people”?)

It is not just about learning how to communicate clearly, it’s also about building trust and credibility with people you have never met or never seen before.

It’s about firing people up with a vision or infecting them with passion. (That’s when super teams get made.)

In this sense, the remote worker, if he is to be massively successful, is not so remote after all.

He is never alone but finds himself in the midst of a boatload of people rowing to the same shore.

#4 The “Entrepreneur Set”

Start-ups are like fussy, temperamental babies. They need all kinds of attention, and there’s no telling what problems they bring about on any given day.

Entrepreneurs are known to wear different kinds of hats, according to the exigencies of the moment. They are adaptable problem solvers who can do marketing one day, and customer service the next.

Remote workers cannot be calcified to their present roles or positions. Organisations have flattened over the years and remote workers of the future need to be both “specialists” and “generalists” at the same time.

Gone are the days when one does the same job for decades until retirement. So much “rewriting” of job descriptions is happening right now.

There is so much fluidity in terms of roles and positions these days, the best remote workers are those who can take advantage and pinch-hit for the team.

To do so, they have to be flexible and adaptable problem solvers who can handle whatever curveballs come their way.

#5 Cultural Sensitivity Goes A Long Way

Technology has opened up the global talent pool and companies can now hire the best candidates regardless of their location.

This has led to teams with rich diversity and depth. While this is a net positive for organisations, it can also be a cause of friction.

Remote workers, now more than ever, need to be attuned to the cultural differences among colleagues.

For example, some cultures are more direct and explicit, while others are indirect and nuanced. A German team leader, for example, needs to understand the indirect nature of his Japanese counterpart and provide the latter with more opportunities to express himself, even when he would have preferred a more efficient route.

Cultures can differ in things like:

  • understanding of deadlines
  • attitudes towards time and time management
  • openness to feedback
  • speed of decision-making
  • respect for hierarchy and leadership
  • meaning of concepts like “work-life balance,” “quality time”
  • family priorities
  • “wokeness”

By giving elbow room for these differences, remote teams can focus on the job, rather than putting out fires caused by friction.

#6 That Proficiency in Tech

Tech is the foundation on which all remote work is done.

Not only are remote workers expected to master the use of their tools, but they’re also expected to track the feature upgrades and policy changes in the technology.

For example, in the past several quarters, Google has been aggressively enhancing their search results, prioritizing original, high-quality and user-focused content, disfavoring unoriginal and AI-generated material. They also have improved filtering out SEO-optimized content intent on gaming search engines.

This would keep SEO specialists on their toes and upend their hard-earned experience.

This is just an example of the reality that to be perpetually relevant, the remote worker is ever on the road to professional development. This means:

  • online courses
  • webinars
  • training and workshops
  • networking events
  • mentorship
  • professional social media groups

Remote workers who have an inherent adaptability to new technologies can leverage this to become more hire-able, relevant and competitive in a highly fluid future.

Those are the 6 critical skills remote workers need to dominate the workplace.


Kinetic Innovative Staffing knows a thing or two about remote work excellence because we help businesses find world-class remote talent.

With Kinetic’s database of over 4 million remote professionals, we’re able to fill a broad range of roles from lawyers and architects to software engineers and systems analysts.

With a remote workforce, businesses get the best of both worlds—having the services of world-class talent, while enjoying significant savings on labour costs.

If this sounds like something you would like to explore for your business, do not hesitate to get in touch with us and we’ll get you all the assistance you need.

Kinetic Innovative Staffing has been providing hundreds of companies in the Asia Pacific, North America, the Middle East, and Europe with professionals working remotely from the Philippines since 2013. Get in touch to know more.

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