The tech skills you need for a remote role are no different than for a co-located office role, since business of all kinds is increasingly reliant on tech tools, systems and stacks across all functions.
Whether it’s a cleaning company with a distributed customer service team or a digital marketing company that’s 100% remote, it’s likely they use similar types of tech to get similar things done.
That said, I’ve put together this episode to talk you through the 6 types of tech used by remote companies, — and explain terms like ‘tech stack’ and ‘workflows’ — so that you can delete the confusion and stop feeling intimidated, and focus on letting your unique characteristics and personality shine through the application process. In this episode we cover:
- Need to know lingo like ‘tech stack’ and ‘workflow’
- The 6 types of tech used by remote companies, 5 of which you can learn on the job
- How to demonstrate your tech agility during the application & hiring process.
Get the Podcast Study Pack 3 and receive a worksheet, guide or checklist workbook for every episode, so you can make your remote career & transition a reality ASAP.
Every business has a ‘tech stack’
Business is increasingly reliant on technology. Whether you work in an office or from your kitchen table with a team located around the world, each function is said to have it’s own ‘tech stack’, which means the collection of tech tools & systems that are used to get their work done.
For marketing it’s called a ‘Martech Stack’. So don’t let that term confuse you. Tech stack is just the collections of software, tools or systems used by certain teams or functions within the business.
The # of tech tools each company and team uses will depend on their business structure, model and size. There’s no one-size fits all tech skill set for the remote workforce. Which is why it might feel confusing and intimidating at first.
We’re going to talk through the different types of tech typically used by remote companies. You might be surprised that it’s not that different from your previous office jobs.
You won’t have experience in all the tech tools a company uses. That’s perfectly alright. It’s likely you’ll learn new tools in each role, and companies are prepared to onboard you knowing that you might not have experience in that tool. They often have their own protocol that they’ll train you on.
The job spec will specify what tech experience is required — which is usually referring to your area of expertise or profession, like a designer who needs 5+ years experience Adobe Creative Suite — and those which are ‘nice to have’ like the more generic project management or communication tools, like Slack or Monday.
So let’s go through the 5 tech skill types you need for a remote role.
The 5 tech skill types you need
Tech Type 1: The tech tools of YOUR trade
You’ll already be familiar with the tech tools of your trade because you’re already using them! Every business function, remote or co-located, uses the tools of the trade to operate.
For example if you’re in UX you’re likely to use one of: Invision, Figma, Sketch , Origami studio. You may have used Figma, so if a company uses Sketch you’ll have to learn that tool, but it does the same thing. And since you’re a smart cookie you can totally do that.
Or maybe you’re a designer and the company requires 5+ years experience of creative suite, well that just indicates they’re looking for a mid-level professional and you can decide if you fit the bill or not.
Tech Type 2: Tech tools of your team workflow
Each team within the company — marketing, design, development etc — have their own unique set of tools that they use to get their work done. This is called a ‘workflow’.
I like the definition by process.st:
“Workflows are the way people get work done, and can be illustrated as a series of steps that need to be completed sequentially in a diagram or checklist.”
So each team across a business all have their own unique workflows and the collection of tools & systems that they use to get their work done.
Within each team you’ll have specialised workflows — or series of steps — required to publish a blog post, or a podcast episode, or a social media campaign. And that’s just creating the content!
Within marketing we create content, distribute it, and analyse the results, all with different workflows. Which means a lot of different tech. And that’s just for the marketing team!
But again, all these tools, as am experienced professional will be familiar to you, if not in practice, at least by name — unless you’ve been out of the loop for the last decade, which is also possible — but either way, here’s the good news. You can train yourself on these tools, do a course, OR some remote companies offer in-house training. So again, don’t let that intimidate you. YOU are smart!
Tech Type 3: Tech for organisation
In the information age organisation is key! Companies use many different tools & systems to organise themselves. And these are the tools you can totally learn on the job, with no previous experience required. If they’re specified in the job posting it’s because it’s a ‘nice to have’ or for informational purposes only.
Trello, Asana, or Basecamp, and sometimes simply Google Drive or Dropbox. Sometimes these are the same as their project management tools, sometimes not.
Each company should have a formal protocol for using these tools that align with their values and culture. But you can learn them more quickly by paying attention to how your colleagues are using it, and of course each of these tools have blogs, tips and training for best practice and basic usage.
Tech Type 4: Tech for communication & collaboration
For communication: think email, online chat, video meetings, and maybe phone and text messages, and in terms of software and hardware.
On the hardware side, you’ll need to have a good quality camera and microphone and KNOW how to use them! You’ll have to get used to selecting the right input and output in the systems preferences of whatever tool you’re using. Google it o ask a friend, not your company!
This is something you’ll need to figure out yourself and TEST before you need to use them. And often you’ll be able to do this for the interview – and YES! They’ll be paying attention to your ability to show up for the interview on time and with everything working, including your camera, mic and internet connection!
On the software side they might use anything from Slack, Flock, Fleep, Workspaces…. These are tools you can learn on the job, again with company protocol in place hopefully!
Side note: not a tech skill, but we mentioned in ep 60: “Hire people who can write,” says Wade Foster of Zapier:
“In a co-located office, a lot of information is shared in person. In a remote situation, almost everything is shared via written communication. Communication is one of the most important parts of remote team. Therefore, good writers are critical to a team’s success.”
Tech Type 5: Tech for Project Management
Same as with organisation & communication tools, different companies and teams use different platforms, some are communication, collaboration and project management tools rolled into one. Again you can learn them on the job, each company should have a formal protocol for using these tools that align with their values and culture. But you can learn them more quickly by paying attention to how your colleagues are using it, and of course each of these tools have blogs, tips and training for best practice and basic usage.
Tech Type 6: Tech for [Miscellaneous]
There may be other tech types, too, like time tracking apps, or industry specific tech tools. Ditto. You can learn them on the job and the company will have protocol for using it.
You can demonstrate your tech agility during the application & hiring process by uploading a video cover letter you’ve uploaded to Vimeo or youtube, showing an online portfolio or CV on a web page you’ve created or coded, and just by sending a PDF so apple users don’t have to convert a word doc to view it. It’s these little touches that go unnoticed when they’re done, blow people’s minds when they’re done well, and leave hiring managers underwhelmed when omitted.
Conclusion: You’re already tech savvy
So there you go, not too confusing at all right? There are 6 tech types, and only the tools of your trade or profession are the non-negotiables. All the others you can teach yourself, learn on the job and follow company protocol for.
Head over to worksheet 10 in the podcast pack to get the cheat sheet so you have a handy reference for the different tech types, and so you can drop them onto your CV or pepper them in your cover letter and interview in the form of questions about how companies do things! Just asking the right questions shows you are tech savvy. Because asking what project management tool the company uses alone will help you stand out from the crowd.
If you don’t have the worksheet yet don’t worry, head over here to get your copy there.
Subscribe to the podcast on Apple, or anywhere else you listen to podcasts.
If you haven’t already, please rate and review the podcast on Apple Podcasts!