In light of the current pandemic, governments around the world have advised people not to gather in large groups, and for companies to work from home if possible. This has led to many organisations having to adjust to new ways of working, implementing new aspects to their business such as remote interviewing and virtual onboarding. This new way of working has led to a demand in certain soft skills, which break away from the more traditional skills we see as being ‘’highly sought after’’. In the following piece, we highlight five such skills and outline why they have risen in demand due to the new nature of work.
- Social Intelligence and Communication
Now that remote working is the new norm, team leaders and management should all display a reasonable degree of social intelligence and communication skills. Social intelligence is essentially the ability to build relationships and is a soft skill. It’s directly linked to communication and also to emotional intelligence, which allows you to be aware of your own emotions and also to be empathetic to those of others. Social intelligence combines both positive psychology and neuroscience to allow us to become more unbiased and rational in our thinking. While the pandemic is a stressful and sometimes overwhelming situation, maintaining and improving on our social intelligence and communication skills is more important than ever in getting through it and staying connected as a business. They are both important for employers when communicating with staff, to help them feel reassured, informed and motivated, and for employees and new starters, to be able to communicate efficiently and connect with the rest of the team remotely. The majority of communication is going to be written or over the phone (video app, etc) and so this calls for a different level and variety of skill to avoid the phrase ‘’lost in translation’’ coming to life. Things can be perceived differently virtually than they would be in person, so it is important to communicate both effectively and empathetically in order to get your message across.
Most of us are used to the schedule of our office routine. We have a set start time, finish time and allocated breaks throughout the day which we must follow regularly. However, when a workforce starts to work remotely, it is up to the individuals to be accountable for their own time. It is important to incorporate different aspects of our new ways of working into our time management plan, for example, the number of virtual meetings is bound to increase as there is less face-to-face time in the office – therefore, you need to plan these into your day and allow extra time for you to complete other tasks. Setting clear working hours and having a dedicated workspace can also help you to get the most use out of your time. You do not want to end up working around the clock, nor do you want to end up with that dreaded ‘’work from home guilt’’ that comes with abusing the system, so sticking to some sort of home schedule and organising your calendar for the week is key. Individuals need to learn to rely on themselves for time management, now that they have been taken outside of their comfort zone and outside the security of the office. It could end up being a positive thing to get a grip of in the long run, as it will serve you well in working more independently and adhering to deadlines in the future.
- Digital Literacy
Digital Literacy refers to one’s ability to find, evaluate and create information via writing and other mediums on online platforms. With more people working remotely and therefore online than ever before, the need for digital literacy and the ability to make digital connections is crucial. The key to businesses surviving now lies with technology, and with companies now relying on various technologies and software to keep operations running, it is important that employees and management alike have strong digital literacy skills. It’s a commonly held belief that most young people are champions of this digital literacy, however, this may not always be the case. Even young people’s levels of digital literacy may vary, depending on their schooling, family environment and if they went to university, training received, etc. Brushing up on this soft skill can be quite easy, as platforms such as LinkedIn Learning and Skills Share host a variety of online courses on simple skills such as Microsoft Word and Excel. Courses and online tutorials like these can help people learn new digital literacy skills to make them more employable or act as a refresher course for anyone struggling to keep up.
- Collaboration and Agility
Collaboration and agility are the secrets to improving productivity and efficiency when it comes to working in general, but especially so now we are engagied in remote working. The ability to collaborate as and with a team and to do this online and via the medium of apps and programmes is a skill in itself. Workplace agility has become a buzzword of sorts in recent years, with more and more workplaces attempting to offer balance and options to their employees, and more employees demanding it. Contributing to positive company culture can result in teams being able to collaborate more closely, as can the use of channels such as Microsoft Teams. Getting the time right and attention to detail are important factors when it comes to collaboration also that must come into play. Agility goes hand and hand with adaptability and is a lifelong soft skill which is undeniably necessary during the pandemic. We are learning to adapt to a vast range of things and a whole new way of working. If one can manage to do so easily and quickly, then this is a skill which all employers will desire.
The art of negotiation is one of the most important soft skills to possess. It involves a mixture of intelligence, knowledge, confidence, communication and social intelligence to carry out. It is also something which can be found lacking in new hires, therefore it is a skill which must be built on and honed. You will be communicating with people, albeit virtually while working remotely, and as mentioned above maybe even more so than ever before. Everybody is also faced with the transition to this new way of working, and so may be coming across challenges and obstacles which are new to them. It is therefore important to be able to negotiate effectively, whether that be to close a deal over the phone or to settle on a project deadline. It may take some back and forth, and above all else compromise, but negotiation is something which will always be an integral part of business, even when we go back to the office environment. For something like this, which can be difficult to learn from a single resource, selecting a mentor and asking he/she for advice in developing your negotiation skills can be a good way to self-develop. While it may not be possible to watch them in action due to the current climate, you could always ask to sit in on a virtual conference or call and make notes/gather tips that way for the time being.
Interested in learning more about in-demand soft skills? Want to discuss how we can help you with your hiring needs or career progression? Please don’t hesitate to get in touch to discuss anything in the article above and more.