Upskilling & Reskilling for Remote Careers: The Future Is Now

Working Remotely

Our tips highlight why upskilling and reskilling for remote careers is the best way for employers & employees to adapt to the future of work.

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Investing in upskilling and reskilling for remote careers is always a good idea. 

Upskilling and reskilling are where continuous learning and innovation meet the demands created by the future of work

They help remote employees gain a competitive edge in the job markets of today and tomorrow. They also empower remote employers to develop the skilled, agile virtual workforces they need to reach their short- and long-term business goals.

According to research:

  • 375 million workers worldwide will need to learn new skills when AI and automation take over more roles [*].

  • 58% of employees will need “significant” upskilling and reskilling to contribute meaningfully in the future job market [*].

  • 73% of business and HR leaders believe that organizations are responsible for developing their workforce, followed by individuals themselves (54%) [*].

  • 65% of workers believe employer-provided upskilling is very important when evaluating a potential new job [*].

  • 48% of American workers would switch to a new job if offered skills training opportunities [*].

So in this ultimate guide to upskilling and reskilling for remote career development, we’ll highlight why these initiatives are such an unstoppable force and share our favorite tips and best practices to transform your team into a dynamically skilled powerhouse.

But first, let’s discuss:

Why Upskilling & Reskilling are Essential in 2023 & Beyond

Upskilling and reskilling are both vital to professional growth in remote work, but there’s a difference between these two often interchangeable terms.

What is Upskilling?

Upskilling is the practice of enhancing, improving, or deepening one’s existing skills. Workers can expand their knowledge to take on additional responsibilities and advance into higher-level positions on their remote career paths

For example, upskilling may turn a beginner-level coder into a wizard-level developer who knows multiple programming languages.

What is Reskilling?

Reskilling is the practice of acquiring a new set of skills. This new skill set may build on an employee’s hard, soft, and transferable skills to help them change careers and transition into different roles. 

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Workers in low-demand or soon-to-be-obsolete roles get to pick up skills for high-demand jobs through reskilling. For example, a remote data entry professional may learn how to become a remote support specialist.

The Benefits of Upskilling & Reskilling for the Future of Remote Work

The perks of upskilling and reskilling for remote workers are easy to see: new skills prime you to thrive in your current position or land one of the highest-paying remote jobs

You’ll be an attractive candidate any company will want to snatch up and keep on their virtual team, which boosts your remote career progression.

On the other hand, companies that invest in upskilling and reskilling initiatives gain:

An agile, adaptable workforce. Your business will be able to close future skills gaps and tackle challenges in the market head-on. Remote employees will become experts in the latest tools, techniques, and trends, allowing them to adapt, thrive, and remain competitive in rapidly changing environments.

Greater employee engagement, productivity, and job satisfaction. Employees who learn new skills feel more loyal and engaged to their employer. Skilled employees also complete their work faster and more accurately. 

Lower turnover and higher retention. Employees who feel valued and supported are more likely to envision their future with your organization. By developing an internal talent pipeline for future roles, you’ll also lower recruiting expenses since it’s more cost-effective to upskill/reskill an existing employee than hire a new one.

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A more creative, innovative workforce. Continuous learning encourages employees to think outside the box and explore new ideas. An innovative remote workforce brings fresh perspectives and creative solutions to the table, driving business growth and success.

More diversity and inclusion. Every employee can develop their skills and access higher-paying positions, regardless of their background, education, or prior career experience.

Remote Upskilling & Reskilling Best Practices & Tips

They say the key to success lies in knowing where you stand, where you want to go, and how to get there. So follow this game plan to support career growth for your remote employees:

1. Define Current & Future Goals (for Your Company & Employees) 🌟

Gather your team to clarify the strategic objectives of your organization. Take future industry trends and demands into account. 

Then brainstorm all the skills and competencies your employees need to achieve these goals. This will provide a clear direction for your skill gap analysis and upskilling/reskilling initiatives. 

Similarly, you’ll also want to speak with your employees about their career goals and aspirations. 

2. Identify Key Roles & Competencies 🔎

Identify the specific competencies employees need for each role within your organization. Speak with department heads and team leaders to gain insights into the skills these positions demand — now and in the future.

Don’t forget to consider emerging roles and skills. Think about industry trends and how technology may impact your future workforce. Assess the skills required for these new roles and anticipate whether your team has the goods to succeed in them.

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Compile a comprehensive list of skills and competencies needed for each role, including hard/technical skills, soft skills, industry-specific knowledge, certifications, etc.

3. Perform a Skill Gap Analysis 📝

A skill gap analysis identifies the disparity between the skills employees currently possess and the skills required for them to perform effectively to meet your organization’s goals. The difference between the two represents your company’s skill gaps. 

A skill gap analysis will help your team:

  • Determine whether your workforce is capable of meeting your industry’s future needs

  • Identify potentially redundant, soon-to-be-obsolete, or mismatched roles

  • Align company growth with employee career advancement

  • Tailor personalized upskilling and reskilling initiatives with your employees’ career aspirations

To gauge your employees’ skills: Consider sending your crew skills assessments and surveys. You can also consider performance evaluations, self-assessments, and reviews from supervisors and peers.

4. Analyze & Prioritize Skill Gap Areas 💡

When you analyze the results of your skill gap analysis and employee skill assessments, you must prioritize the gaps that need immediate attention.

Rank the skill gaps based on their impact on business goals and criticality for organizational success. Focus on high-priority gaps that may hinder business growth or jeopardize project outcomes.

5. Develop an Upskilling & Reskilling Game Plan 🤓

Use your identified skill gaps to create a comprehensive training and development plan. Design learning programs that not only address each gap, but align with individual employee career aspirations.

Employees should have a personalized roadmap to their unique upskilling/reskilling adventure. This multi-prong approach should be inclusive and accessible to remote employees in different time zones and tailored to how they like to learn. 

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Consider adding these methods to your plan:

Online courses and video tutorials. Online learning platforms encourage self-directed upskilling and reskilling. Employees can choose topics relevant to their roles and interests and learn on their time.

Gamified learning techniques. Gamification transforms learning into an engaging, fun experience. Elements like quizzes, challenges, leaderboards, and rewards make the upskilling/reskilling process more like a game than a chore to enhance employee motivation and participation.

Virtual workshops, webinars, Q&As, panel discussions, etc. Invite experts and industry leaders for specialized internal training sessions or lunch-and-learns. These subject matter experts from within your organization or industry should focus on specific skills, industry trends, best practices, new perspectives, and more.

On-the-job training and job rotation opportunities. These allow employees to work in different roles or departments temporarily. They can help your crew deepen or gain skills, equipping them to take on more diverse responsibilities. Employees can shadow each other virtually via video meeting platforms and learn from real-life scenarios.

Cross-functional project teams. Form cross-functional project teams for employees to work on new initiatives or business challenges. Collaborating on diverse projects exposes employees to different skills and encourages learning from one another.

Mentoring programs. Pair your experienced employees with those looking to develop specific skills. This one-on-one support helps transfer knowledge and provides valuable guidance for remote career growth.

Peer coaching. Establish meetings or virtual spaces where remote employees can share their expertise and learn from one another. You’ll foster a collaborative learning environment and encourage team-building simultaneously.

Your organization can create its own learning hub or outsource upskilling/reskilling to reputable external partners that allow you to customize your programs. Just be sure to have access to training data so your stakeholders have a clear idea of how your employees are using each service and progressing.

6. Make Time for Learning Opportunities ⏰

Expecting your crew to complete a full course load of work on top of their regular job duties is a recipe for unhealthy work-life balances and all the red flags of burnout.

So always provide a dedicated time for upskilling/reskilling opportunities at work. Many remote companies:

  • Implement a four-day work week, reserving one weekday just for learning or mental health support.

  • Opt for microlearning. Consider offering short, focused learning modules your employees can complete in small increments during the workday. This approach is ideal for busy remote teams with limited time between projects.

7. Monitor Progress, Evaluate Impact, & Watch Your ROI 📊

Keep an eye on your employees’ participation and progress in your skill development programs. Measure the impact of your training initiatives on individual performance and overall organizational success.

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For example, if more employees sign up for VR training in the metaverse than download eBooks, you’ll know where to double your investment to gain the biggest returns.

8. Encourage Feedback & Continually Improve 💫

Ask employees for feedback on the effectiveness of your upskilling and reskilling training programs. Send surveys each month or quarter for suggestions, comments, and any additional areas they believe need improvement.

As your organizational needs evolve and new skills become essential, revisit and update your skill gap analysis and training plan to ensure continuous alignment with your company's objectives and your employees’ goals.

9. Recognize & Reward Employee Achievements 🏆

When remote companies cultivate a strong culture that values continuous learning and celebrates skill development, each employee who actively participates and progresses in upskilling/reskilling activities should be recognized, celebrated, and rewarded.

Upskilling & Reskilling for Remote Careers: Challenges Become Opportunities For Growth

Upskilling and reskilling initiatives create a skilled and capable remote workforce that’s well-prepared to tackle present and future challenges. Organizations can nurture a competitive advantage and embrace the growth mindset necessary for thriving in the AI-powered era on the horizon.

With your help, remote employees should feel excited to conquer new challenges, embrace change, and achieve their career goals.

🚀 We Work Remotely is here for the future of remote work! As the world’s largest remote work community, you can find, list, and learn how to grow in the best remote jobs all in one place. 

Build your future-proof remote team or find a remote employer committed to your career growth today! 

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