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Which soft skills are the most important in the remote workplace

remote workplace

Employee soft skills are vital for workplace success, and this is especially true for the remote workplace. Read on to discover exactly what soft skillset your remote employees need to succeed.


The remote workplace has experienced a significant surge in popularity, transforming the way people work and communicate. As face-to-face work interactions have become less frequent or even non-existent due to the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of soft skills has skyrocketed. Soft skills, also known as interpersonal or non-technical skills, refer to personal attributes and abilities that enable individuals to interact effectively with others.

These skills play a pivotal role in fostering collaboration, building relationships, and maintaining productivity in a remote work setting. Soft skills in remote work are even more important because many of the standard unspoken “rules” and office procedures will be missing. As such, remote work success factors hinge on your employees’ ability to use their soft skills to their full potential.

The most important skills for virtual workplaces largely surround your employees’ adaptability in virtual environments and their ability to communicate well with team members. Other valuable skills include time management and their ability to self-motivate, as we will shortly discuss.

Communication Skills

Collaboration and effective teamwork are fostered by active listening, understanding, and responding to colleagues’ ideas and concerns. The ability to write clearly and concisely is crucial for conveying messages, instructions, and ideas without the aid of as many non-verbal signals. Effective communication in remote settings requires active listening and thoughtful responses to colleagues’ ideas and concerns.

Since remote professionals are often physically separated from their teammates, it is essential to actively engage in communication and demonstrate attentiveness to ensure effective collaboration. These skills promote a collaborative and inclusive work environment where everyone’s ideas are valued and considered.

Clear and concise writing is another crucial aspect of effective collaboration in the remote workplace. Unlike face-to-face interactions, remote communication heavily relies on written messages, whether through emails, chat platforms like Slack, or project management tools. Without the aid of non-verbal signals such as facial expressions or body language, the written word becomes the primary means of conveying messages, instructions, and ideas.

A subset of good virtual communication skills are presentation skills. Virtual presentations lack the ability to command attention via physical presence, so your employees need to know how to present well over Teams, Zoom, or whatever communication software your company employs. These skills include engaging delivery, knowledge of how to create and use good visual aids, and of course, understanding how to use technology effectively. Good presentation skills are essential for successful virtual presentations. Remember, your employees are competing with lots of external distractions when presenting online, so engaging presentation skills need to be cultivated and rewarded.

Flexibility and Adaptability

A remote work environment often involves shifting priorities, tools, and processes. This means that your employees must be adaptable and open to change. Remote work comes with a unique set of challenges, ranging from collaboration options to technology difficulties, and the ability to be flexible and take a creative approach to problem solving makes the challenges of remote work much easier to deal with. The ability to find innovative solutions to challenges that may arise due to geographical or technological barriers is essential for productivity in remote work. It is essential for productivity and success to be able to prioritize tasks,meet deadlines, and remain focused while working remotely.

Accountability and Self-Motivation

Self-discipline is essential for remote workers, as they need to stay motivated and focused on their tasks without constant supervision. Time management for remote professionals looks very different than time management in a traditional office setting, and your employees need to be able to keep up their own motivation in remote work. Setting clear goals and creating a structured work routine help maintain productivity and ensure timely assignment completion. Transparency and accountability are demonstrated through proactive communication with managers and colleagues.

This is a skill set that can be cultivated, too; your leadership team can help employees, especially employees who are new to remote work, work on their time management skills by sharing sample schedules, productivity apps and tips, and creating a work environment where employees feel comfortable talking about their time management strategies.  

Teamwork and Collaboration

Collaboration in remote teams and building relationships in virtual workplaces can be hard. In a typical office setting, there are lots of casual, non-work interactions; think snack breaks, water cooler talk, and similar interactions. These interactions develop rapport and bonds between your employees, but this is hard to simulate online.

However, the world– and your workforce– are becoming more accustomed to virtual interactions. Through regular virtual interactions, you can establish rapport and build trust with remote colleagues. Active listening, empathy, and effective communication are key to resolving conflicts in a virtual setting. Leadership and participation in remote teams require strong interpersonal skills, including delegation, coordination, and cultivating a positive team environment.

Emotional Intelligence

Finally, one of the most important soft skills for the remote workplace is emotional intelligence. Remote workers should be able to empathize and understand their colleagues’ experiences, challenges, and emotions, even if they are not physically present. A positive and supportive remote work environment is built on trust, respect and empathy with remote colleagues. Remote work can feel isolating, and your employees need to know that they can reach out to each other and to their management team to help deal with the stresses of remote work. The ability to recognize and manage one’s emotions, as well as support others in times of stress and isolation, is essential to one’s overall well-being and productivity.

Building a great remote workforce and hiring remote professionals is an exciting challenge for companies in the new era of remote work. More and more people are working from home– about a third of US workers who have the option to work remotely do so all the time, and even more have embraced hybrid schedules. Bolster your remote workplace by finding the best talent– contact AC Lion today to make that happen!

Alan Cutter

Alan Cutter founded New York City's premier digital recruiting agency, AC Lion International, and continues to lead the growing company as their fearless CEO. For over 20 years, AC Lion has been the trusted provider of revenue generating talent in the digital and technology landscape. Our reach spans from innovative venture-backed startups to enterprise level organizations. AC Lion is a proud member of the Lionseye Group, a collective of brands furthering talent acquisition through Venture Capital, HR Technology and Thought Leadership.