Remember 2019? When working from home used to be a practice reserved for trendy start-ups and freelancers? We barely remember it either. As soon as COVID entered our lives, all businesses had to adjust to the ‘new normal’ where working remotely was suddenly commonplace. However, the pandemic did not only change our way of working, but also the priorities of many businesses. It highlighted how important adaptability and communication are, and made technology more relevant than ever. In light of this shift, it’s time to assess which skills are going to last and become more vital than ever for you as a post-pandemic worker.
1. Digital skills and software competence
Perhaps the most obvious skill to hone is tech. Less than 30% of businesses, small and large, believe they have the digital talent needed in the 21st century. Yet the pandemic has shown just how important technology is. Companies now know that a 9-5 office day isn’t required for productivity when there are so many tools that exist to aid communication and collaboration. There is also software that can complete repetitive tasks, freeing up more time for the workforce. You don’t need to learn how to use every single app, but it’s safe to say that demonstrating data literacy is the minimum requirement for the modern worker.
What’s more, companies are keen to modernize their existing work structures, so understanding the most common productivity and management tools will be useful. For example, resource management tools have become a big hit in recent years, helping businesses to “stay ahead of customer demand by forward planning based on real-time availability and utilization reporting,” according to the experts at Precursive resource management software. You could consider familiarizing yourself with Salesforce — the biggest CRM company in the world — but learning how to digitize your project management, in general, is essential for any modern worker.
2. Critical thinking
The days of the Fordian production line are over. Workers are no longer expected to stand in place, mindlessly completing tasks without feeling part of the process. A modern-day business looks for employees who take pride in their work, embrace innovation, and question the reasons behind processes to better them. In order to make great decisions, critical thinking is essential. This involves looking at situations objectively and rationally, reflecting on previous judgments, and engaging with complex problems.
According to the World Economic Forum, critical thinking is one of the top skills of tomorrow for job candidates and is expected to become even more crucial over the next few years. The importance of critical thinking has really been emphasized by the pandemic, as businesses have seen that when they need to quickly adapt, it’s the critical thinkers who are going to be ahead of the curve, questioning what works and using data to make informed decisions.
Communication isn’t just about being able to say what’s on your mind — it’s about how you say it. The pandemic has proven just how fundamental workplace empathy is while coworkers faced uncertainty, anxiety and emotional turmoil. An employee that lacks the emotional intelligence to approach their colleagues sensitively at times like these may not be able to communicate effectively in their work either.
However, it’s more than just emotional intelligence — it’s also about the basics of communication. Many workplaces will not go back to the office on a permanent basis, with only 9% of employees wanting to do this. As a result, there will be continued reliance on digital methods of communication which may be devoid of the same non-verbal signs used in face-to-face interactions. That makes the ability to clearly and concisely convey ideas and thoughts more important than ever. Without this skill, teams will soon grow confused and irritated by monstrous email threads and never-ending instant messages.
One of the most elusive skills, creativity, is a cornerstone of modern business. Now that more tasks are being automated, the main USP of a human worker is their brains, innovation and ability to think outside the box. Recent turbulence shows how vital it is to adapt to unexpected changes, and hiring creative people gives businesses the best chance of doing so successfully. We’re not talking about traditionally ‘creative roles’. You can exercise creativity no matter what your job is.
Surveys have found that 60% of CEOs cited creativity as the most important leadership quality, while it has also been deemed the number one factor for future business success. By utilizing your imagination and taking calculated risks to test novel concepts, you’ll not only have better decision-making skills but also be the first to try something new that could spell success.