1. Virtual or remote work is persistently becoming the norm all across the world. My definition of virtual or remote working is the practice of working from anywhere other than the traditional workplace or office. The reason why I prefer this definition is because it captures the truest essence. Most people only think of working from home when they hear virtual or remote work. Virtual or remote work can also be done from an internet café, a park, coffee shop, or even co-working spaces. I wish to see this trend growing in Zimbabwe. Anyways, my subject today is essential skills for virtual or remote workers.

Digital Literacy

Digital product or services or digital tools become your daily bread in virtual or remote working. Thus you will need to appreciate more the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs). You will need to grasp how to use personal computers and the associated software e.g. Microsoft Office. You will need to grasp how to use the internet and social media platforms.

You will need to also learn how to use digital communication platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and the like. Other digital tools to learn will be cloud-based document management systems, workflow or collaboration software and so on. These are just examples I gave otherwise there is an infinite list of digital tools out there. What you will be required to use will all depend on what is being used in a particular context. When you put all of this together, you can see there are lot of skills you will need to become digitally literate.

Digital Communication Skills

The subject of communication skills always takes me back to varsity. I am reminded of how most students trivialized that module; many did not like that. It was even interesting that as much as it seemed simple, most students would have borderline passes. Yet the subject of communication skills is probably the most important subject one has to ever learn. Most of our endeavours and literally everything we do revolves around communication.

That is why you find communication skills repeatedly being taught at almost all levels. In high school, it is there, in varsity it is there, and even postgrad, you will still come across. In virtual or remote working, there is a level of complexity that is added to communication becoming digital. Communication becomes mostly via voice calls, messages, video calls, emails, and so forth. You need to become knowledgeable in navigating digital communication.

Writing Skills

Virtual or remote work entails lots of writing. You will have to write things like reports, emails, memos, and even press releases, articles, plus more. Most of your communication will be anchored on written communication. Thus you will need to sharpen your writing skills. I am highly active in remote or virtual work. I am also a writer as you can see. I can tell with certainty that having top notch writing skills is must for any remote worker.

One of the secrets to becoming a good writer is both reading and writing. Take time to study writing techniques and things you must pay attention to. Writing is an art and a science. You can take advantage of books, podcasts, YouTube videos, and the like on how to effectively write. There are principles to follow for virtually every piece of writing e.g. reports, emails, memos, and even press releases, articles. Take time to study them and internalize them.

Data Analytics

In remote or virtual work you will no doubt work with lots of data. It depends on the nature of your core focuses, but it will most likely be inevitable. Data Analytics is the analysis of raw data in order to make sense of it or draw conclusions from it. There is no question about how data has become the greatest asset in the world. Acquiring Data Analytics skills will better position in delivering your roles as a remote or virtual worker. There are countless online courses for Data Analytics across the world.

The 3 most common Data Analytics software or platforms you must study are Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Power BI, and Tableau. Last year I studied and got a certificate in Data Analytics from a Nigerian learning institution. The study focus was on Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Power BI. Afterwards I attained a certificate in Data Visualization with Tableau from elsewhere. I highly encourage you to acquire Data Analytics expertise in Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Power BI, and Tableau.

Project Management

Project Management is the body of knowledge concerned with principles, techniques, and tools used in planning, control, monitoring, and review of projects. An alternative focus here, which is a subset of project management, is Project Monitoring and Evaluation (PM&E). Monitoring and evaluation defined as the combination of data collection and analysis and assessing to what extent a program has (or not), met its objectives.

So you can choose to do the former or the latter though the former is more demanding. The knowledge and skills you will acquire from these study areas will equip you for remote or virtual work. This is because remote work is basically a series of projects assigned to you that you have to complete. Personally I studied Project Monitoring and Evaluation with Project Management Zimbabwe, so can you.

The essentials skills I covered in this article are the technical or specialized ones. There is another set of essential skills which are basically soft skills. These are collaboration, self-motivation, adaptability, prioritization, time management, and the so on. These are mostly skills that you can cultivate without necessary having to undergo training. As for the 5 I discussed earlier, you will have to undergo some training due to their technical nature. The great thing is that you can find online courses or learning events for such skills. Now is the time to start tapping into virtual or remote working. There is lots of money to be made from that.