As businesses and governments help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, many companies are rolling out remote work for their employees. But how can HR and Learning & Development teams ensure their employees work from home effectively?

Working remotely can offer many productivity benefits for employees. In fact, many employees embrace working outside the office, with 6 in 10 remote workers saying that they would like their job less if they had to visit the company every day to do the exact same job. Remote work also cuts down on the stress and time of commuting and boosts productivity. With workplace distraction on the rise according to our Udemy Workplace Distraction Report (think open seating offices), it’s not surprising that many employees are getting more done at their quieter home offices.

Yet remote work is not without its flaws. IT support, emotional support, time management and productivity hacks are all important aspects of enabling remote work. And companies rolling out company-wide remote work have a responsibility to put extra thought and care into the employee experience.

Employees who work remotely (especially if its the first time) will need increased attention and support from the learning & development team. According to the Remote Work Statistics Survey, 67% of remote workers say they need more work-related training.

As more employees work from home, consider how you can help these employees excel while working outside of a traditional office setting. In her course Best Practices for Working Remotely, Shelley Osborne, VP of Learning at Udemy, offers ways to help employees and managers navigate the new remote world. Her course includes ways to communicate and stay accountable (and social), best practices for running meetings virtually, and advice for managers leading remote teams.

How to master 4 key skills to work remote effectively

In addition, Udemy instructors offer tips on how to master four key skills to help remote employees be more efficient and effective.

1. Time management

According to Udemy’s Employee Experience Report, half of the survey respondents (and 53% of managers) said they could improve their time management skills. And while productivity tools have proliferated in recent years, 37% of survey respondents expressed some hesitation about the usefulness of these tools, indicating they can sometimes be more of a distraction than a help. For employees who work remotely, time management is especially important since their interactions with their manager will likely be more limited and productivity tools can become their lifeline to what’s going on at the rest of the company.

In the Udemy course Time Management Mastery: Do More, Stress Less, time management and productivity consultant Alexis Haselberger identifies common roadblocks to time management and provides concrete, easy-to-implement strategies and techniques for minimizing distractions and increasing focus. For example, Alexis recommends developing a customized task management system to capture, organize, prioritize, and document all that needs to get done. To learn more about Alexis’s approach and the content of her course, see How to Become a Master of Time Management at Work.

2. Organizational skills

Respondents to the Remote Work Statistics Survey ranked organizational skills as essential for remote workers. It makes sense—organizational skills and productivity go hand in hand. Remote workers need to develop systems for keeping track of their projects as well as communication with their manager and coworkers. This is especially true when they’re collaborating on a project with others and need to manage multiple versions and different rounds of feedback.

In Productivity 10x – The Secret Skill of Peak Performance, Udemy instructor Silviu Marisk introduces practical tips to help learners automate their routine to make productivity a habit, beat procrastination, and prioritize.

3. Communication

Communication was named one of the top 10 soft skills for the workplace in 2020. There are a number of reasons for this—according to Google’s extensive research as part of Project Oxygen, being a good communicator is one of the eight skills that define a good manager. On the flip side, poor communication is also linked to employee burnout. And communication is one of the uniquely human traits that high-performing organizations foster in their employees, according to the Udemy’s Humanizing Learning Research Report. For remote employees, clear communication is paramount since they don’t always have the luxury of tapping someone on their shoulder to ask a question or clarify a point.

In her Udemy course, Speak Like a Pro: Public Speaking for Professionals, executive public speaking coach Jennifer Hennings covers the essentials of storytelling so learners can better understand their audience, hone their stories, and pair data with narrative to make a lasting impression. To get an overview of the course and more practical tips from Jennifer, see 5 Tips to Become a Powerful Public Speaker.

The Complete Communication Skills Master Class for Life from TJ Walker helps learners improve their assertiveness, persuasion, and business communication skills. This course is designed to help learners feel comfortable and craft meaningful and memorable messages.

4. Self-discipline

Successful remote workers must be masters of self-discipline, both in order to get their work done efficiently and to make sure they stop working from time to time in order to preserve some work/life balance!

There are a number of Udemy courses that can help your employees who work remotely develop self-discipline. Productivity Machine: Time Management & Productivity hacks from sales coach and Udemy for Business instructor Patrick Dang introduces productivity-boosting mindsets, tools, and tactics. And How to Build Self-Discipline from best-selling personal development author Martin Meadows introduces scientifically proven tactics for developing self-discipline and resisting temptation.

As more employees work from home, ensure that you’re providing the support your remote workers need by helping them to develop the essential skills we’ve outlined here.

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