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OP-ED: Skilling up while working from home

  • Published at 03:52 am September 11th, 2020
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Getting used to the workplace of the new normal

When the pandemic began and companies moved to work-from-home, I definitely had a learning curve to overcome -- and it wasn't as simple as remembering to unmute myself on Zoom or finding the perfect spot to set up my laptop. 

I soon discovered that remote work required me to lean in stronger into certain soft skills. I needed to be more organized, so I could optimize the more limited face-to-face time with colleagues and bosses. I had to make the effort to be more communicative so I could bring people in my team together to deliver common goals over laptop screens. 

The skill sets you’ve honed through working from home are important to emphasize in today’s job market. You’ll want to demonstrate to your future employer that you’ll be able to get off the ground running effectively from Day 1, and deliver results amid the ongoing uncertainty. Plus, there’s mounting evidence that remote work is here to stay: More companies, including Twitter, Fujitsu and Siemens, are allowing employees to work from home forever if they wish. 

LinkedIn data shows a rise in the number of remote roles advertised and sought out during the height of the pandemic, including in APAC countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, and India, in roles like marketing, customer service, software development, and more. 

Recruiters tell all 

Whether it’s a temporary or permanent shift to remote work, recruiters and hiring managers are on the lookout for people who thrive in this style of working. If you’re applying for a job that will need you to start remotely, or one with a 100% work-from-home arrangement, this is what you can include in your CV and application to stand out. 

Previous remote work experience 

David Whitaker (Australia) says that you can include this in the achievements section of your CV, and elaborate in your experience. 

Time management

Olivier Requilman (Philippines) says that remote workers need to show that they can work independently and meet deadlines -- while being able to manage their time and multiple commitments in a sustainable and realistic. Highlight experiences where you’ve navigated time differences and distances to deliver well successful projects, he says. 

Tech and data mastery

More work processes are going online. Requilman says an advanced knowledge of Microsoft Office 365 is key, for example, knowing how to use formulas in Excel, or inserting videos in PowerPoint. Likewise, Teaczhey Sinyal (Indonesia) says that it’s key to be proficient in multimedia, data processes and analysis -- anything that can help your employer with more firms digitalizing amid the pandemic. 

Adaptability 

Andrew Calvert (Singapore) says he wants to hear how the candidate is able to cope with change in this volatile world. 

The ability to balance

To set expectations with your future manager, it’s important to discuss before signing an offer letter your other commitments, the time frames that you’re able to be “on the clock.” That can help avoid any misunderstandings down the road, says Albert Ocktavius (Indonesia). 

Skilling up 

Due to the pandemic, many workers have also been pushed into the deep end when it comes to getting used to working from home -- with no option but to swim -- and it may just feel like part of that new normal we’re all in. 

Sure, we’ve made it through these few months booting up our laptop five days a week to get things done. Since remote work seems to be here to stay, why not invest your time in honing your skills? Even if you’re not in the job market, you might learn something that just makes your 9-5 easier. 

Handling conflict

Take communication off email and messaging, and talk on a call instead, instead of letting misunderstanding fester. Use phrases like “tell me what you’re thinking so I understand” to draw out colleagues’ perspectives. 

Managing projects

Be transparent, and don’t make assumptions that everyone knows the deadlines or key dates. Use project management tools like Trello in place of in-person status updates -- that’ll make things easier too. 

Sharif Uddin Khan is a software engineer.

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