Identifying the Right Skills for Remote Workers amidst COVID-19

HR Tech Outlook | Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Ray Bixler, CEO

Businesses have had to resort to work from home and have also become highly reliant on remote workers. For companies that are in the habit of practicing work from home conditions, the change was minimal, while for the others, it was drastic

FREMONT, CA: The outbreak of coronavirus has transformed life as we know it, and it may be a long time before normalcy is restored. However, the one positive prospect of this outbreak is the opportunity it presents for everyone to dive into new opportunities, innovations and approaches. COVID-19 has forced several employees to adapt to new ways of life to stay abreast. Businesses have had to resort to work from home and have also become highly reliant on remote workers. For companies that are in the habit of practicing work from home conditions, the change was minimal, while for the others, it was drastic.

In many ways, the pandemic has imposed a forceful worldwide work from home experiment. Companies have been forced to make the required changes to their staff and ensure that they can excel under these circumstances as well. In some cases, organizations may notice that the workers are more productive, efficient, and focused when they do not have to commute for long hours and are allowed to work at the comfort of their homes. Regardless of the results, every organization needs to play its part to flatten the curve and bring the economy back to its feet.

While the world adapts to the new normal amidst these challenging times, a new set of challenges around hiring and retention will undoubtedly emerge. How do recruiters and hiring managers ensure that candidates, who will spend at least a percentage of their time working remotely, have the soft skills necessary to excel in this environment? On what set of criteria should candidates be evaluated to ensure they have the behaviors and skillsets necessary to thrive? A framework must be established that provides clarity into the soft skills required for remote employees to be successful for each specific job role.

SkillSurvey’s team of I/O Psychologists focuses on these kinds of questions as they research the behaviors essential to work successfully in various job roles. They’ve created hundreds of job-specific, competency-based surveys that map to thousands of different jobs that focus on the heart of the soft skills critical for success in each role, including behaviors essential for working remotely.

Here are a few examples of competencies that can help organizations gain a better sense of a candidate’s ability to perform while working remotely.


Without onsite supervision and with potential for at-home distraction, has the candidate shown that they will have the discipline to plan and manage their workload? Will they have a strong work ethic and the dependability to stay focused? You'll also want to know whether they display proficiency using the tools and software that are required to and take the initiative to learn about new technologies they may need that will help them get their work done effectively.

Interpersonal skills

Do candidates communicate in a clear and organized manner? This is critical when communications are conducted through various channels such as email, text or phone exchanges and with the growing use of video interviews and calls. Does your candidate take time to listen and make sure that they understand others? Increasingly, customer or patient exchanges are being conducted through web chats or other technologies, so you’ll want to know that your candidates are not just “presenters,” but also take the time to understand the person behind the screen. And, does your candidate work well with a team by building relationships with their manager, peers and co-workers and collaborate with them to achieve common goals?

Problem solving and adaptability

Does the candidate remain flexible and open to changes or variations on the job? Do they show good judgment and focus their time and attention on the right activities? You'll want to know that your candidate adapts to stressful conditions or emergencies.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the success of your remote workforce does not stop with selection. Your management team needs to be sure that they understand the effectiveness of their onboarding and hiring processes, reasons for turnover, and what will keep employees engaged, especially at the most-critical early tenure point in their careers. This is incredibly challenging if you don't see your new team members every day, to observe body language and behaviors without face to face interaction. A strong post-hire retention and engagement process that complements your pre-hire selection solution ensures that you find, hire and keep top performers that will align to your company's success while identifying areas of improvement when engaging your remote workforce.

SkillSurvey was listed as one of the Top Cloud Solution Providers by HR Tech Outlook Magazine for 2020. As we overcome COVID-19, we will all find ourselves faced with a "new normal" that presents challenges and opportunities. Those organizations that embrace the options and find solutions to hiring and retention challenges will find themselves ahead of their competition.

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