Talking Business with Tina Hamilton: Developing skills for the remote workforce – The Morning Call

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Talking Business with Tina Hamilton: Developing skills for the remote workforce – The Morning Call

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A few weeks ago, many of you witnessed a viral video of a lawyer who got stuck on a Zoom kitten filter during a virtual court case. He is attempting to talk to a judge while his face is a kitten looking side to side.

While it was entertaining, the reality is that technology is a struggle for remote workers who are not accustomed to managing technology independently from home. The people who struggle range from managers and hourly workers who aren’t technologically adept to executives who no longer have an assistant sitting nearby to fix their technology mishaps. Even digital natives who can operate the technology often grapple with how to communicate effectively across them.

Workplace technology has been changing rapidly since the 1980s. That has led to changes in the workplace in general — how we communicate, the pace at which work happens, how we collaborate with others and the use of outsourced services and talent. The pandemic has only amplified the changes by removing the one holdover: going to a central workplace. The workplace is likely never to go back to what it once was.

Tina Hamilton

Tina Hamilton (THE MORNING CALL)

Without the proper remote working skills, normally productive and effective workers are being negatively affected. They risk being able to keep up in their current jobs. They may struggle to find opportunities that do not require the skills to work remotely.

There are solutions for those willing to make a change and upgrade their skills. One of the best kept secrets in the Lehigh Valley is The Literacy Center. Many know of the not-for-profit The Literacy Center is offering English as a Second Language classes and GED instruction, classes it has provided for decades.

It also offers training to advance the skills of anyone in the local workforce.

Its “Work From Home (WFH) Certification” is especially relevant. The rigorous 20-hour class includes a large variety of subjects to prepare adult students to either improve their work-from-home skills or prepare to find a job working from home.

The class is free to those who reside locally and is taught remotely and are offered at different times to accommodate varying work schedules — mornings, afternoons, evenings, and Saturdays. Perfect! (Did you see the word “free” in there?) They have received funding specifically for this program from funders like the Dexter F. and Dorothy H. Baker Foundation, Trexler Trust, and United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley.

Some of the subject areas include:

  • Using technology: How to navigate everything from video conferencing to collaboration platforms and making sure everything stays secure.
  • Communication skills: Improving your ability to communicate clearly and succinctly across digital platforms, for example, how to run a teleconferenced meeting effectively.
  • Managing distractions: How to balance work and home responsibilities, establish boundaries, and structure your workday.
  • Managing stress: Proactive strategies and skills for keeping stress levels reasonable without the physical separation between work and home.
  • Ergonomics: Creating an in-home workplace that’s friendly to your body and improves your productivity.

The class has a capstone project where several people are teamed and assigned a problem. Using the technology tools and skills they learned during the course, the group members work remotely and present a solution.

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The Literacy Center will customize a remote working training solution for businesses and organizations that are seeking to improve skills across the entire workforce. There is a very small fee to create a custom solution to cover their out-of-pocket costs.

As noted, they also offer a companion course: how to find work-from-home jobs for those who are looking for a new position and have limited experience in a remote environment.

Thanks to organizations like The Literacy Center, there are solutions out there for everyone who desires to keep their skills updated and current.

Distributed workplaces will persist beyond the pandemic. According to Global Workplace Analytics, “a typical employer can save about $11,000 year for every person who works remotely half of the time.” And workers can bank between $2,500 and $4,000 a year working remotely half time as they save on commuting, lunches and other expenses. These numbers are going to be weighed seriously by employers as they consider what a return to the office looks like.

Be ready. Keep your skills updated. And embrace the change.

Tina Hamilton is president and CEO of myHR Partner Inc., a Lehigh Valley human resources outsourcing firm that manages HR for clients in 34 states. She can be reached at tina@myhrpartnerinc.com.

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