Do your team members possess the skills that drive remote working effectiveness?

By Mike Erlin

By Mike Erlin

Co-Founder & CEO

With millions of people in lockdown and borders slamming shut, Australian professionals are once again working from home.

We’ve been doing this on-and-off for over a year and a half now, and most companies have had time to catch up in terms of remote work policies and supporting technology. But many organisations still have a long way to understand the skillsets that enable people to sink or swim in a remote work environment. With AbilityMap, businesses can pinpoint the team members who will perform well when working remotely, and those who will require support

Why is this important?

Understanding the skills that drive remote working effectiveness is essential for maintaining productivity and for knowing in advance which of your team members are likely to struggle when working from home.

There may be someone in your team who is normally a top performer but is at risk in this environment. Knowing that they lack essential remote working skills will alert their manager and colleagues that this worker can really use some help during lockdown.

But what are these capabilities that drive remote work effectiveness? Many managers have fallen into the trap of guesswork or use vague terms like “remote collaboration”. AbilityMap researched remote work effectiveness in early 2020 and identified a science-based list of eight key skills that make a difference.

Knowing your team’s abilities in these areas will provide you with a heat-map showing where they possess high capability, low capability, and where they will need urgent support when working from home.

AbilityMap’s eight skills driving remote work effectiveness

Let’s examine three of these skills in more depth: operating independently, adapting to change, and coping with pressure.

1. Operating independently

Even with the collaborative software boom, remote working requires a sharp increase in independence. For some, the pandemic has unlocked levels of empowerment and responsibility that they’ve always wanted. But for others, their newfound independence is a struggle.

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High scorers will thrive working alone

According to AbilityMap’s Human Capability Framework, high-scorers in this capability will stand behind their actions, enjoy taking responsibility for making decisions, are able to find out things by themselves, are capable of working alone, and have their own points of view. In short, they’re the ideal remote worker and may perform even better remotely than they do in an in-person environment.

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Low scorers will need help with independent work

Low scorers in independence are typically easy to spot. They frequently ask advice from others, wait for others to lead the way and count on others too much. They’re easily discouraged by difficult situations and will often stand aside to let others make a decision. Importantly, they often need a push to get started on a project.

A key point to understand is that people who struggle working independently will tie up other members of the team (via phone, video, or instant messaging) with their increased need for communication and support.

2. Adapting to change

Change of any kind can be challenging for some people, but the major shifts brought about by COVID-19; remote work, new technology, new ways of working, and shifting business strategies take this challenge to another level.

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High scorers are excited by change

High scorers in this capability seek out change and adapt easily to new situations. They’re excited by the prospect of managing many different activities at once, and catch on to new things quickly. They eagerly look forward to things to come and are genuinely excited by new ideas.

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Low scorers cannot change their behaviour easily

Low scorers usually find it hard to go back and forth between two different tasks. They prefer to take their time on projects and have trouble changing their behaviour to suit the situation. They’re often pessimistic about new ways of working, and may purposefully disrupt the implementation of new processes or system.

The real challenge for low scorers is the abrupt nature of the shift to remote working. Usually, resistors of change have weeks or months to get used to a new concept, but no such opportunity is given with abrupt lockdowns.

3. Coping with pressure

Finally, there’s the pressure caused by the two factors above (increased independence and rapid change), along with the countless other pressures of COVID home-schooling kids, technology trouble, loneliness, and the ever-present stress caused by the worsening health crisis in Australia and overseas. The end result can be mental health issues, burnout, and resignations.

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High scorers remain calm

Some people will tell you that they perform at their best when under pressure. This may be true for some, but according to AbilityMap’s Human Capability Framework, the main indicator of a high-scorer in this area is their ability to remain calm in tense situations. They do not lose composure under pressure, and maintain control of emotions in difficult circumstances. Importantly, they are capable of fulfilling their responsibilities in a dynamic environment.

In other words, highly performers get sh#t done, even when it is hitting the fan.

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Low scorers panic

As you would expect, low scorers panic easily under pressure. They are strongly influenced by the moods of others, and may let things get out of hand when under stress. For example, they may let workloads build up to the point where important deadlines are missed and the business suffers as a result.

Map your team’s remote working effectiveness and take action

Get in touch with AbilityMap to discover how our next-generation software can be used to objectively evaluate your team in these key areas, then use this information to take action. This could involve:

  • Giving extra responsibilities to team members with high scores in Operating Independently.
  • Offering extra support (such as more frequent check-ins) to team members who have difficulty working under pressure or adapting to change.

Hiring for remote working effectiveness

Even if state lockdowns end tomorrow (they won’t), understanding the skills that drive remote work effectiveness is a highly valuable exercise due to the global trend towards remote and hybrid working models. In practice, this will mean pre-employment testing of all future candidates in these skills to discover if they have the potential to be top performers in a remote setting.  

Read more about the capabilities that drive remote work effectiveness and contact AbilityMap today to get started.  

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