Should They Stay (at Home) or Go (Back to the Office)?

The COVID-19 outbreak has required organizations to embrace remote work at a rapid pace. As a result, many HR and corporate leaders are now considering making the virtual work arrangement permanent in a post-pandemic world. In fact, new data from the research firm the Institute for Corporate Productivity found that more than half of employers surveyed plan to expand or increase flexible work arrangements on a more permanent basis after the coronavirus outbreak is contained. Just 15% said they did not plan to revisit remote work options in the wake of COVID-19:

As employers consider where their workers will be commuting to in the future – the cubicle or the home office – it will be critical to determine which employees have the competencies and mindset to thrive in a remote environment and which ones may not. As an industry-leading talent assessment company, XBInsight has identified several key competencies that can make employees better-suited to remote work. 

  • Demonstrates Flexibility/Resilience. The world of work is changing rapidly and continuously so being ready and able to adjust to new conditions is critical. Successful remote workers need to be skilled in adapting to changing situations and modify plans without compromising the integrity of their work. This includes the ability to work effectively with a variety of individuals or groups and interact well even under stressful situations. 
  • Manages Work. Remote work offers employees more freedom and independence, however with that workers must be responsible for meeting deadlines, fulfilling commitments, and perform at high levels. Successful remote workers will need to be competent in translating goals into tactics and specific steps, establishing appropriate timelines and setting clear priorities. This includes using tools to plan schedules and workflow, communicate effectively, and follow up to stay on time and on budget. Should they stay at home or go back to the office?
  • Builds Collaboration. As HR leaders look to build virtual teams today, and in the future, identifying employees with strong competency in collaborating is key to keeping virtual teams motivated and maintaining performance levels. Remote workers must be adept at establishing, communicating, and reinforcing shared values and norms. This includes inviting and building upon the ideas and contributions of others, promoting teamwork, ensuring others are well-informed of progress towards goals, and celebrating accomplishments.
  • Maintains Endurance. The COVID-19 pandemic has led many employees to work virtually for the first time. As HR and business leaders weigh decisions about who should remain virtual for the future, the ability of employees to overcome obstacles and demonstrate persistence towards their goals when faced with difficult situations will be paramount. This includes staying focused on goals despite setbacks, working in a fast-paced environment, and handling multiple  and competing priorities. 
  • Seizes Opportunities. With no manager or supervisor looking over their shoulder, successful remote workers need to have strengths in being proactive, taking initiative and the ability to work independently for extended periods with minimal support and approval. This includes anticipating potential obstacles, accomplishing tasks independently, pushing personal performance, and taking personal responsibility for self-development. 

Assess for Remote Fit.

Many companies are turning to talent assessments to measure employees’ competencies that are needed to successfully perform and flourish while working from home. Talent assessments can provide valuable insight into how workers’ competencies are aligned, or not, to successfully work remote. Armed with this knowledge, HR leaders can identify those workers who are well-equipped for remote work, determine development needs for employees tagged for virtual work, or create effective behavioral questions to determine whether a potential hire will thrive in a remote environment.