10 valuable soft skills for virtual working

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soft skills in the virtual workplace - video conference illustration

CJ Walker, Firehead founderThis week we are focusing on how to improve your communication with teams and colleagues if you are now working from home, either some or all of the time. Yesterday we looked at what soft skills are and how they help comms. Next we’ll outline the most useful soft skills for helping teams run more smoothly and what happens when remote working goes wrong.

Plus this Thursday 22 October, Firehead’s founder CJ Walker will be sharing her best communication tips for managers, team leaders and co-workers as a guest presenter on ‘Coffee & Content’ – Scott Abel’s popular Content Wrangler webinar. CJ has spent almost 30 years as an international remote worker in technical communications and digital communications, with a team distributed across the northern hemisphere and kids who like to jump in on the call. She says: “I’d like to think I have learnt a few things about how to do remote team communication well – and how to avoid some of the pitfalls.”

Register here to join the webinar: Soft skills in the virtual workplace.

10 valuable soft skills for virtual working

So what are the skills that you need to tap into to help make remote working run more smoothly? Having worked from home and in distributed teams for nearly 30 years, here are my top 10 soft skills for working together virtually:

  • Strong communication – speaking, written, presenting, listening and being a good team player. At a distance, we may not get verbal or visual cues so be flexible and forgiving of others – and don’t hog the conference call!
  • Courtesy – good manners, business etiquette (introductions, making sure people are heard), tolerant of others’ working styles, respectful voice, make eye contact on video calls.
  • Flexibility – adaptable, willing to adjust to new requirements, lifelong learner, teachable.
  • Integrity – honest, ethical, trustworthy, high morals and personal standards, doesn’t cut corners, follows through to deliver verbal promises.
  • Interpersonal skills – personable, kind and interested voice, sense of humour, friendly, empathetic, has self-control, patient, approachable, offers to help others using own strengths to nurture the team dynamic.
  • Proactive – optimistic, enthusiastic, encouraging, confident, willing to commit to project requirements.
  • Professionalism – business-like, commits clearly to tasks, hits deadlines, doesn’t complain behind others’ backs.
  • Responsible – accountable, reliable, gets the job done, resourceful, self-disciplined, invested, conscientious, uses common sense.
  • Teamwork – cooperative, gets along with others, agreeable, supportive, helpful, collaborative, inclusive, able to give constructive criticism.
  • Work ethic – hardworking, willing to work, loyal, takes initiative, self-motivated, punctual.

Optimising soft skills for a virtual team

Soft skills come in sets. There isn’t one that rules them all. If you have strong communication skills, but no integrity, your project is not going to succeed. If you are kind in your dealing with others, but don’t follow through on what you promise, the project results will still be lacking. All of the above skills come into play if you want your virtual project to be a success.

In the communications field, we have so many ways to bring our soft skills to the table. But there is a hierarchy to be aware of when choosing which form of communication.

The simplest way to transfer a message from one person to another is face-to-face. Your voice, with eye contact, and body language allow clarification, questions and instant confirmation. The next best way is by telephone because voice transfers so many clues to a person’s attitude. Then email for collecting written information for records, and then video conferencing comes in – although how well this works often depends on if the attendees know each other in person from the office or real life.

Optimising communication in a virtual team often starts with the choice of channel.

In tomorrow’s post I’ll outline what happens when remote working goes wrong. If this is happening in your work life, then soft skills could be the reason – and the solution.

This post is an extract from an article that was originally published in ISTC Communicator, Summer 2020. Reproduced with kind permission.

Image (CC): Alexandra Koch/Pixabay

Register for the webinar

webinar soft skills in the virtual workplace

Join CJ Walker this Thursday to improve your remote teamworking and digital communications. Firehead’s founder will be live on the Content Wrangler‘s  ‘Coffee & Content’ talking about the importance of soft skills and how they can be a huge help in remote teamwork during the Covid-19 era and beyond. The webinar will last 45 minutes. Details and sign-up info are below.

  • Event: Soft skills in the virtual workplace
  • Date/time: live online, Thursday 22 October, 4pm (UK) – or after on demand
  • Duration: 45 minutes
  • Sign-up and details here.

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