People skills in remote work and studies have become increasingly over the past couple of years, but what are those skills and can you learn them?
Even though we are talking about digital tools and are working in various teams at the moment, the majority of our team members – me included – are not huge fans of group work and assignments during studies.
This is mostly because students tend to have different levels of motivation and this sets challenges to the cooperation, at least when you want it to be effective. However, be it remote studies or remote work, each of us needs people skills, and to us it seems like these are put into a test especially in a school environment.
Since many students seem to be coming with different reasons and levels of motivation, the workflow might be different than to which you have been used to in working life. On the other hand, during our remote studies, we’ve learned that people skills are not as big of a test as they are when you are in a traditional class environment.
When you don’t see the people in front of you, it’s easier to let things go and not be stressed over every single detail.
If you have been studying somewhere over the past 20 years or so, you have probably heard more than enough about the importance of group work. Yep, they keep telling us that group work teaches you valuable lessons that you can utilize in working life.
But up to this day, I have failed to see the value of those endless times I have been trying to reach team members, asking them to be ready by deadline and so on. One of the most important people skills in working life is patience and this, this indeed has been tested during my studies.
Group work skills are of course important, there’s no denying of that. On the other hand, it feels like the emphasis is too much on group work, when in fact it should be in people skills.
At least in my experience, people skills are the most important skills and group work skills are only a small part of a bigger picture. But how about people skills in remote work and remote studies? Are there some things that are different from the traditional way of working or studying? To me it seems like, not really.
What Are People Skills?
Before we dive deeper into the wonderful pool of people skills in remote work and studies, let’s break the term down quickly.
Basically, people skills are about how you communicate, listen to others and relate to them, be it on a personal or professional level. In my experience, you can put empathy and respect for others, and problem solving skills to this category, too.
TOP 10 People Skills in Remote Work and Studies
- Understanding boundaries
- Leadership skills
- Active listening
- Ability to delegate
- Good manners
Based on my own experiences in both student and working life, I gathered this list of the top 10 skills for remote work and studies. These are just my own opinions and not something that is set in stone.
You may feel like some of the things listed above are not important at all and your list might look a lot different. Please do share your views in the comment section, very much appreciated!
When you look at the list you might spot the same thing as I did: many of these skills are intertwined and basically, can even be seen as just different ways of expressing the same thing.
Also something I would like to note here is that if you feel like some of these skills don’t come out as naturally for you, there’s no reason to worry. We can all learn these and in fact, I believe that this is a never-ending process that goes on both in remote work, studies and in your personal life.
Empathy, Active Listening and Good Manners
Empathy is probably the most important skill that you can have both as a working professional and as a human being in your personal life. Closely linked to empathy, I’ve listed active listening and good manners there, too.
Active listening is not the same thing as just listening to someone. People tend to listen to each other in a way that instead of actually listening to what they are being told, they are already thinking of their own response. This is not active listening.
Active listening means that you focus on what the person is saying and trying to say. Listen carefully, ask questions and take your time before giving your response. Active listeners do not interrupt the speaker but they really make an effort on listening and giving their response accordingly.
Active listening is a win-win for both parties: you can identify even the smallest details more easily and the other party feels respected and heard. Active listening is important also when you are using digital facilitation tools in your projects.
Active Listening In Remote Communication
How does this work in remote communication then? Is it possible to practice active listening online? Of course it is. You can be a great active listener in Skype/Zoom/Teams meetings and lectures.
In fact, for many of us it seems like active listening is much easier online: you are not face-to-face with the person and you have your own space, where you can process what you are hearing.
Also, when communicating by writing, you really have more time to take in what the other one is saying. On the other hand, with writing especially, there’s greater risk of misunderstandings.
Empathy and compassion might sound something that you cannot express that easily when working or studying remotely. In my experience, this all depends on the relationships that you have formed with your peers in remote teams and remote classes.
Compassion and empathy are skills that come especially handy in those situations, where you need to be diffusing heated discussions. These heated situations can occur because people feel overwhelmed or preoccupied, or they are having personal stress for instance. Empathy is all about being able to relate to others and their feelings.
To me it seems like expressing empathy is slightly more difficult in remote communication since people can hide their emotions more easily than when interacting with them face-to-face.
Anyways, the most important thing that you need to remember is that you make sure that others know that you understand their positions and feelings. When you add general good manners to this behaviour, you are mastering many important people skills in remote work and studies all at once.
Politeness shows others that you respect them and value their time and opinions. It’s usually the most simple things that make the difference: a hello, how are you, as your first Skype message to your remote team members is already a great starting point.
Delegate and Lead
A huge part of people skills in remote work and studies, at least in my experience, are also leadership skills and the ability to delegate. This applies to all positions within your organization and your career.
Great leaders are able to recognize strengths and weaknesses of each team member. I can understand that in remote work it’s more difficult to delegate tasks for those that are not physically at the office, but in today’s world, this is almost a must.
I myself appreciate and think very highly of the biggest client company that I have at the moment: they have given me huge responsibilities even though I am working from another country and never was a part of their team in the office before joining the project.
I’ve worked with leaders that are unable to delegate and trust their employees or freelancers. That is simply the biggest mistake these leaders can make. Even if they try to delegate they usually end up micromanaging which leads to people thinking that they are not trusted and respected.
In general, I’d say that leadership skills are important for us all, no matter where you work and in what position. When you recognize the weaknesses and strengths of others, assign tasks to them accordingly and are an active listener, you learn how to delegate effectively. Delegation is important in all aspects of the processes, also when you are using remote project management tools for instance.
Negotiation Skills and Communication
All of the people skills in remote work and studies that are already mentioned above, are boosted with communication skills and negotiation skills.
Whatever the industry you are working and the position you are in, clear and productive communication is the key to success. When you can express yourself in a clear way and are able to understand others’ way of communication, many problems and misunderstandings can be avoided.
This again requires things like active listening. To help others understand you, learn how to communicate in a clear way: take into consideration what you are really wanting to say and who you are talking to, what type of communicators they are and so on.
Negotiation skills are beneficial in all positions and in your studies, too . In fact, these people skills in remote work will benefit you not only in your professional but personal life, too
People Skills In Remote Work Are The Same Than In Other Parts Of Your Life
As I mentioned already in the very beginning of this post, each of the people skills in remote work are intertwined. And to remind you: these are not set in stone, these are just the people skills that I personally have found as the most important ones.
Each of these skills are important not only in business but in personal life, too. The key to success, at least in my experience, is that you just need to remember that these skills are about continuous learning and you will never be ready: there’s always room for improvement.
Read next: Leadership in Remote Work