Over the last few months work has changed dramatically. We are now starting to think further about the future of work, what do we need to do to be ready? What do our employees need to be learning now to help them in the future? What should leaders be planning to do differently, and how should we identify and fill gaps in our own skill sets?
In addition to the changes that were already coming at us, such as robotics, 3D printing, artificial intelligence, the 5G wireless network, and other technologies – we now need to incorporate the new necessity for remote working and the ability to navigate health and safety guidelines into the shifting paradigm of what going to work looks like in the future.
Bottom line, remote work will be here to stay. Now that more people have had a taste of it and proven their productivity, it will be hard for companies to roll back to the way it was before. Many companies will likely move toward more flexibility in allowing employees to work from home or in the office depending on the role and preference of the employee.
In addition to flexibility in where you work, there will likely also be more flexibility in when you work. For people working remotely, one of the benefits is that they get the work done at times when they are most productive—even if that’s early in the morning or late in the evening outside of traditional business hours.
Workplaces themselves will look different. Many will be redesigned to promote social distancing and reduced collaboration in shared spaces until there is a vaccine. Or the purpose of the office could change entirely; maybe it becomes a place where you only go if you need to collaborate or work with others while doing all of your individual work from home.
So, what are some skills to focus on and hone to be as ready as possible for the new world of work?
1. Technology competency
You need to understand how to use the changing tools of the trade, whatever your trade is. Understanding how to set up and manage automation, leverage AI appropriately and maximise remote working tools are now becoming essential for businesses.
2. Effective communication
You need to learn to communicate effectively across different channels. It’s not enough to be able to digest written communication and articulate your ideas clearly. There are many different channels for communication—chat, video conferencing, email, social media—and many ways to get your message out. You need skills to be an effective consumer of information from all these different inputs, ways to organise the information overflow productively, and skills to maximise the impact of your message by choosing the right medium and ensuring your message was received by its intended audience.
3. Critical thinking
The ability to examine the facts, understand data, and make sense out of it are key. Determining the significance of all the information coming at you in this data-rich world is an essential skill for decision making.
4. Emotional intelligence
With so many disruptions and changes happening in the world, the ability to relate effectively with others on a human to human level has never been so important to your work success. As a leader, you must anticipate and navigate through your team’s emotions, complexities, anxiety and grief. If social interactions are limited in the future, due to health and safety concerns, you need to find ways to build genuine relationships, demonstrate empathy and create a team spirit.
You will need to be able to come up with creative solutions and adapt to rapidly changing circumstances. You’ll have to think differently and not just do the same thing everyone else is doing to respond to disruptions. You need to cultivate curiosity and a “find a way” mentality in your team.
"Bottom line, remote work will be here to stay. Now that more people have had a taste of it and proven their productivity, it will be hard for companies to roll back to the way it was before."