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COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on the future of work. Though many have already implemented practices around remote work, virtually overnight, many organizations found themselves managing a remote workforce for the very first time. Bloomberg is calling it “the world’s largest work-from-home” experiment.

But working remotely has been a growing trend. And it does not necessarily mean that an employee works at home. They may work from a coffee shop, library, boat, hotel, RV, or anywhere. Working remotely can be defined as an employee who will not be working in-person under direct supervision (in physical proximity) with a supervisor or coworkers. And working remotely could reflect 1% to 100% of their work.

COVID-19 has completely accelerated the evolution of work. Workplaces were beginning to evolve as communications and technology allowed for more distributed teams. Co-working spaces and remote-based roles were on the rise due to labor shortages and other market forces. Some employers may have been prepared – offering employees the opportunity to work remotely a few times a week, so the transition, while sudden, was fairly simple. But for many organizations, the switch was a rapid and sudden shift.

And this is not going to stop anytime soon as the virus lingers.  We are facing a future where the health and safety of your organization’s employees are driving critical workforce decisions. 

So what key skills does an individual need when their role does not work under direct, in person supervision?

  • They should be dependable, self-motivated, and manage their time efficiently to meet deadlines. 
  • They also need to be good communicators and build and maintain relationships with supervisors and coworkers.

When assessing candidates for the soft skills they need to thrive, it’s important to evaluate their behavior based on their past performance in recent jobs.  So how can you do this? This brief video shares how SkillSurvey Reference can help:

The future of work is remote-based

A recent Gartner survey finds that 74% of CFOs polled expect to move previously onsite employees remote, even after the height of the COVID-19 crisis has passed.

Not only is leadership recognizing the need for a continued remote workforce – your employees are, too.

Citrix and OnePoll recently conducted a survey to check the pulse of the remote workforce. One third of respondents expected their employers to be “more open-minded” about remote work once the pandemic has begun to subside.   In fact, 28% of survey respondents indicated that they would likely seek out new employment if their current employer did not provide remote options. And the longer employees are forced to adapt to a remote environment, the more likely it is that they will seek out flexible employment options post-pandemic.

But while this change can be terrifying, it can also benefit your organization long-term. Enterprises who previously limited remote work are finding that their workforce can be just as productive and efficient when telecommuting.  Workplaces that otherwise would have needed to close their doors and halted business are able to continue to operate and generate revenue by reacting quickly and setting up remote work.

Kate Lister, President of Global Workplace Analytics, even indicated that “Work-at-home will save U.S. employers over $30 Billion a day in what would have otherwise been lost productivity during office closures due to COVID-19.” Business will want to continue to be ready for emergency telecommuting procedures, as epidemiologists continually warn that resurgences of COVID-19 are in our future.

But regardless of whether driven by shelter-in-place orders or not, organizations will increasingly provide more remote options for other reasons that may include work-life balance advantages, productivity increases, or simply increased access to great people that don’t have to be located in proximity to the office. Half of Facebook’s employees could work from home full-time within five to 10 years, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said recently on a Facebook Live stream. Zuckerberg thinks it could cut back on turnover and improve diversity by opening up opportunities for people who don’t live near a Facebook office.

Assessing your candidates for the ability to work remotely

How can you be sure that the candidates you hire have what it takes to successfully work remotely? By implementing an online reference checking solution into your hiring process, you can quickly and easily get data-driven insights on your candidate’s past performance to help make more informed hiring decisions.

SkillSurvey’s team of I/O psychologists have created hundreds of job-specific, competency-based surveys that map to the soft skills that are critical for success in each role. Feedback on these competencies are provided by the candidate’s references, who give you reliable insights from personal experiences –  having observed how candidates exhibited these traits in past roles.

We’re working on an enhancement to further shine a spotlight on these skills via a new “Ability to Work Remotely Cluster” that is coming this summer to feedback reports. Questions related to the ability to work remotely are already on many of our surveys, and now candidate reports can include the skills critical for remote work organized together in this cluster along with an average of the corresponding ratings. This will help recruiters to zero in on these important soft skills to make the best hiring decisions for remote-based roles.

To learn more about how SkillSurvey can help make hiring easier in your organization for the future of remote working, view our short coffee break video hosted by our Chief Product  Officer, Steve Heister.


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