Julian Torres is the co-founder and COO of Ontop (YCW21) and a best-selling author for Penguin Random House.


As the world starts to adjust to life post-Covid, one thing is glaringly clear: Traditional office working environments will never be the same.

Tech legend Marc Andreessen recently stated that the acceleration of remote work might be more important than the internet, declaring the trend “a permanent civilizational shift.” While many businesses were forced to implement a remote and hybrid work schedule on employees at first, there is no clear sign of things going back to how they were. The way we work has shifted forever, and the new workforce will have to adapt. 

The physical space where people work isn’t the only thing that’s changing about the modern office job. Mckinsey stated in a recent study that as AI and robotics begin to transform the world of work, and certain jobs will start to be replaced by technology, the skills and competencies required by the workforce will be shifting dramatically in the upcoming years. It’s likely we will see a change in focus from more technical workplace abilities to a more nuanced approach, which the study refers to as distinct elements of talent, that encompass a mix of key skills and attitudes such as adaptability, coping with uncertainty, self-confidence, self-motivation and wellness.  

Skills Needed To Work Remotely

In a world where computers and automation can do tasks at a much higher speed and efficiency than humans, and where you can answer practically any question in seconds via the internet, the concept of intelligence — defined as memorizing and recalling concepts, facts and formulas — has lost its value. We all now possess an extension of our brain in our pockets that could very well make us be considered a genius in 1940. This rapid evolution of technology, now accompanied by a fundamental change in the way we work, redefined faster than ever before what it means to be a valuable worker for an organization and a brilliant professional.

There are some skills that people develop and nurture to be efficient, productive and successful in a flexible/remote work environment, especially with the shifts in work styles that new technology is bringing about. Hiring managers face the unprecedented challenge of identifying the most important skills candidates must have to fit correctly with a remote or hybrid organization.

Communication, written and spoken, is a key competency that involves becoming an effective communicator of ideas while also being able to absorb and synthesize information readily. This includes asking the right question and getting what you need from phone calls, emails and instant messages in an efficient manner, as well as being able to describe your own working scenarios clearly.

People have access to an endless flow of information that can be accessed in seconds. Being able to curate that information, understand it, analyze it and transmit it in simple straightforward ways is key to being successful. If you can’t communicate complex concepts in a few sentences that anyone can understand, you probably don’t understand it yourself.

Writing plays an important role here, too. Many companies are adopting text-based communication systems such as Slack that involve communicating with others in written form. Not being able to ink your ideas into well-written sentences can bring about many problems. 

Strong interpersonal skills, such as empathy, collaboration and conflict management, are of vital importance in today’s working world. Despite being in the office less or even not at all, fostering strong working relationships has never been more important. Working remotely can be isolating and it can be hard for employees to feel like part of a community, especially in a time where social issues hold such prevalence. Furthermore, not being face to face with coworkers makes it even more difficult to solve conflicts, give feedback with candor and solve disputes.

Flexibility and adaptability are similarly essential for the simple fact that everything is always changing, regarding roles as well as work environments. If you’re unable to keep moving with the forward motion of the modern landscape, then you stand to be left behind, no matter how good or talented you are at what you do. The workers who can adapt faster and cope with uncertainty better are the ones who will be well-suited to succeed.

Independence and self-motivation are key when workers are sitting at a flexible workspace all by themselves, with bosses or coworkers by their side. Workers must learn to cultivate internal drive and motivation and a good habit tool kit to be productive and achieve goals, especially when there is no one around to supervise them.

Strategies For Working Remotely

Building your internal skill set is important, but there are also plenty of simple things that we can do to become better remote/hybrid workers:

Get dressed properly: No PJs. This may be where you rest, but when it’s time to work, it’s time to work.

Use your calendar as the map for your day: Deviating from productivity is easy when there is no one around to monitor you. While you may have meetings scheduled, it is important to book space in your calendar for productivity hours and downtime.

• Make the most of office hours: If working in a hybrid setup, use your time in the office wisely. Face-to-face conversations can be very valuable.

• Get into a routine: You may realize that you can get work done getting up two hours later, but don’t encourage bad habits, and keep a steady routine. Procrastination is your most dangerous enemy.

Don’t lose face-to-face contact: Try to always have calls with video on to connect with people. It is tempting to have video off and space out to do other things to “feel more efficient,” but losing that eye-to-eye contact and missing out on nonverbal cues is highly detrimental for relationship building, empathy and conflict resolution.

• Create a designated workspace: Working consistently from the same spot helps to form your routine while also maintaining healthy associations with household locations.

The world is moving fast, so it’s important to stay ahead of the curve even when working away from a regular office.

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