Top skills needed by IT and tech professionals for remote work in 2020
Even though many employees in countries easing lockdown requirements have begun heading back to work, everyone still has to adjust to the new normal.
Many companies have announced they are continuing remote work duties for their staff, or require employees to come in on alternate days.
Efficient remote working is still serving as the most important way to get one’s business flowing smoothly in 2020, and IT professionals need to be at the top of their game.
For companies who had to shift to remote working overnight, it became a monumental challenge for employees to develop certain skills needed to produce the same quality of work without being at the office, and for employers to motivate their employees to do so.
However, companies should see the shift to remote working as an opportunity to identify skills gaps and consider upskilling their employees to stay afloat in the new normal.
Lily Mok, research vice president on leadership, culture and people dynamics team within the Gartner CIO research group, told TechRepublic that now is the best time to invest in upskilling and training programmes for employees.
“Previously, you had operational objectives that wouldn’t allow you to spare any time to do the learning.”Now that businesses kind of has an activity slow down… this is a great opportunity to use the downtime.”
With employees working from home, their schedules are more flexible and they don’t need to spend too much time on the commute – leaving ample time for upskilling and reskilling in technical areas.
However, non-technical skills are also important when it comes to remote work. Here are three soft skills that IT professionals must develop when working remotely:
Managing one’s time while working from home is different than when at the office. It’s easier to get distracted for some people due to at-home commitments and other distractions. Therefore, time management is one of the most important skills to master when conducting remote work.
Jeffrey Hammond, vice president, principal analyst serving CIO professionals at Forrester, told TechRepublic, “The first skill that is the discipline of being able to get themselves ‘in and out of the zone’ more quickly. When I say ‘the zone,’ I mean the zone of productivity.
“Some developers will say, ‘I really need to be in an office so I can get into a quiet zone and get focused. The reality is going forward, that’s probably not going to happen nearly as much. You never know when the kids are going to come banging or the dogs are going to be barking or any of that sort of thing.”
“The training required to get into and out of the zone very quickly, is one of those things that folks need to focus on.”
Hammond also pointed out that those working from home may suffer from burnout, as IT professionals often get lost in their work. He encourages them to take short breaks, but also to master willpower so that these short breaks don’t turn into hour-long naps at home.
For IT professionals needing some time management tips, they can check out this Time Management course by Udemy.
Communication and collaboration
Being able to communicate effectively is key when it comes to collaborating with colleagues while working remotely. Zoom meetings aside, IT professionals should also be able to communicate via written and verbal communication whenever necessary.
It can be easy to feel disconnected while working remotely, so it takes effort for some to communicate effectively during this time.
Brie Weiler Reynolds, a career development manager and career coach at FlexJobs, told U.S News and World Report, “Communication is really the foundation of good remote work. It helps you stay on the same page as your teammates and supervisors, and with the added pressure of the unique situation we find ourselves in, communication will help keep teams productive and cohesive.”
Some strategies to improve communication skills include adopting communication tools like Slack, scheduling daily huddles, and managers giving more lead time on tasks and asking employees what their communication preferences are.
For IT professionals especially, they must ensure they are able to collaborate and communicate with their peers as they work on coding projects from a distance.
Hammond said, “Whether that’s making sure that you really got your GitHub skills down or your GitLab skills, because you’re now remote with your repository; or whether it’s taking a look at something like code spaces in GitHub, which is now a remote code environment that allows you to very quickly set up and look at a defect or a particular project or something like that. Or making sure that you’ve got your time spent with Slack to make sure that you’ve got all your alerts [on] and that sort of thing.”