With lockdown slowly easing, we are wondering what the post-coronavirus world might look like. There are a lot of unknowns but it’s extremely unlikely that things will just go back to the way they were before. Our workplace has and will continue to change and with this, the staff skill sets your business requires will too.
As the COVID-19 pandemic forced the majority of businesses to adapt to remote working, it also fast-tracked the ’Fourth Industrial Revolution’ – the adoption of smarter technology and automation fueled by data and machine learning.
Business leaders are now looking to make their companies more resilient to future disruptions and focusing on developing their workforce and hiring people with an appetite for continuous learning.
‘Companies are starting to understand that if they want to succeed in Industry 4.0, they must create agile work environments and modernised workplace cultures where employees can continuously acquire new skills to keep up with the changing nature of work,’ says Michele Parmelee, Deloitte Global Chief People and Purpose Officer.
What are the skills of the future?
The COVID-19 pandemic has boosted the digital transformations of companies as they are trying to become more resilient to future disruptions. Technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data, virtual and augmented reality, and robotics will make businesses more adaptable and anyone that can help companies use them effectively will be in a great position.
Having the right data enable businesses to see trends and predict shifting customer needs in order to provide the right products and services are the right time. To utilise their data effectively, however, companies need employees who have the right skills to analyse it, extract insights and make better decisions based on them.
While technical proficiency is an obvious and evolving need, it’s important that people also develop so-called ‘human skill,’ which will have an even greater value in a more automated workplace and will make them more adaptable as jobs are restructured.
While many soft skills are often considered to be innate traits, they can actually be taught and developed with the right resources, environment and incentives. These social-emotional, non-cognitive skills are often linked to improved performance and workplace happiness.
One of the top skills for future success is contextualised intelligence – a nuanced understanding of society, business, culture, and people – and an entrepreneurial mindset.
Adaptability & Flexibility
The ways companies operate and work were already changing rapidly but the pandemic accelerated the process. To succeed in a post-coronavirus-world, employees will need to be able to adapt to ever-evolving workplaces and have to continuously update and refresh their skills.
One of the changes in a world where social distancing and home working might continue for the foreseeable future is that more people at all levels of an organisation will be in a position where they lead others. The gig economy is only going to grow and teams are going to become more fluid with different people taking lead at different times. Professionals with strong leadership skills who are able to inspire and bring the best out of teams as well as encourage collaboration will be in high demand.
Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
Universities and companies were already starting to develop their own ‘emotional intelligence’ programs before COVID-19. Stanford University, for example, offers a Compassion Cultivation Training course to help people develop compassion and empathy for others, while one of the courses on Deloitte’s internal leadership program is ‘The Art of Empathy’, which helps leaders learn how to walk in the shoes of others. EQ is closely linked to leadership and is even more important in uncertain and challenging times. The ability to be aware of, express and control our emotions and to understand those of others is key when people might feel worried about their jobs and the future of their businesses.
Commit to a Lifetime of Learning
According to the World Economic Forum, in just five years, 35% of the skills deemed essential today will change. There’s only one way to remain relevant in Industry 4.0 post coronavirus: commit to a lifetime of learning.
‘I think the best way we can serve our organizations and our people is to create a company culture that actually trains and equips people to be flexible, self-reliant, and empowered’, says Pierre Naudé, CEO of nCino, a software company that provides cloud solutions to financial institutions. ‘And they should feel that they can use their own brain power and experience to actually mould their jobs as we go forward, to adapt at the pace of change.’