The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our live in ways we could never even have imagined. The way we live, socialize and work, has all gone online and virtual.
This is the first time many people have ever worked remotely. The adjustment for some has been significant. Balancing work and home duties, dealing with distractions and finding ways to manage time better.
But some experts say, while doing this, we’re building essential skills that will help us with our job search in the future. That’s because having the skills to work from home successfully will be something employers may look for in the future.
Experts say when the pandemic ends, we will go back to some of our old ways, but there are some changes that may be here to stay. Especially when it comes to how we work. This means some of the remote working skill we have gained may be valuable when applying for your next job.
Job seekers may be asked to demonstrate that they can work from home successfully as many businesses look towards a mixed work week after the pandemic ends. Every indication is we will be working part from home part from work in the future. That means having the skills to make remote work productive will be very valuable.
Cynthia Spraggs is the CEO of Virtira, a virtual company that focuses on remote-team performance. She works with companies to help improve their remote workforce productivity.
“What we’re seeing in terms of all the studies and feedback we’re getting right now is a lot of companies are considering, what would they would call a hybrid approach,” she says.
Spraggs says, what may have been seen as a nice-to-have skill before the pandemic, is now an asset. She recommends making it clear on your resume that you can work from home successfully.
“I think their work history tells you their experience, but it may not tell you how well they’re going to work remotely,” Spraggs says.
She gives some examples of what employers may look for in new hires.
- How do you interact with a group of co-workers on line?
- Are you able to make your point to a virtual team?
- Do you know when to ask a question to a virtual team or when to call a colleague directly?
- Can they meet deadlines while working from home with little supervision?
- Do they know how to set up a virtual meetings in all the platforms available, for example, in Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams
Spraggs says she would want to know, “How do you react to having a webcam on and seeing 30 faces on the screen. Is that overload for you? Or can do you thrive and operate efficiently?”
Koula Vasilopoulos, is district president at the recruiting firm Robert Half. She says the pandemic has increased online hiring at companies as well as increased the number of work from home positions. She thinks that’s likely to stay after the pandemic.
“Interviews are being conducted remotely. And then onboarding new hires is needing to be done primarily remotely,” Vasilopoulos says.
She adds this also means increased competition as more people can apply for the same jobs.
“Companies have had to adjust. They have started advertising fully remote jobs, so they can attract individuals that may be only looking for remote roles. In addition, companies have expanded their search geographically, which I think has really been a positive for both employers and employees, because it’s allows organizations to essentially have access to a wider candidate pool,” she says.
Vasilopolous says here are some questions candidates can expect in an interview, now and beyond the pandemic, which they may not have anticipated before
“I think we’re seeing employers ask now what aspects of working from home are you enjoying, and what are you finding challenging? How do you anticipate communicating to your manager and or team in a remote setting? Maybe even asking what some favorite ways to handle collaboration is remotely,” Vasilopoulos says.
Even if the job is 100 per cent from an office setting an employer may still want to know if you could be productive if, for some reason, you had to work from home. This also shows you are better able to work with team members who are remote.
Spraggs, who is also the author of several books about working remotely says her company has been helping to make remote work efficient for more than 20 years. But she points out that no company is all virtual all the time and that keeping up your in-person skills is important.
Many virtual companies have regular in person meetings. This is good because you can build better relationships that will help you when you go back to your remote office.
Spraggs adds that more than ever your online presence is key to success. You should have a solid LinkedIn page and there should be no controversial comments or pictures of you that employers can find online.
She says, because clients and colleagues don’t get to know you as much in person, as we move to a more virtual environment, your virtual identity becomes more important too.