08 October 2020

5 Important Skills in a Future Work Environment

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When the world was sent into a tailspin following the rapid spread of COVID-19, many were forced to adapt to a “new normal.” Businesses were quick to establish work-from-home setups, and many employees were expected to maintain business continuity from afar. As a result, new skills emerged as incredibly important as the world navigated a new way of doing business.

According to HSBC’s Navigator Resilience: Building back better report, nearly three quarters of Canadian businesses expect some form of flexible work arrangements to become standard. So, what does this mean for your company during a pandemic? It means that new desired skills have emerged as valuable currency because the nature of work has changed in so many ways.

Adaptability and problem solving

When an IT department isn’t a desk away or colleagues aren’t sitting in pods together, the ability to address everyday issues independently is a huge asset. Having employees who know how to adapt and find solutions to everyday problems on their own is something that can help keep people productive and your business operating smoothly. In fact, 56 per cent of businesses say that the agility to adapt to new realities is a top priority for business resilience. The pandemic demonstrated that business and workforce agility is vital to success. The traditional workday is blurred as all demands are under one roof and a laptop is at the ready. It’s not necessarily about the time each employee puts in each day, but rather what outputs are being achieved. With resourceful people on your team able to adapt, be flexible and manage time effectively, your company will be in good hands.

Desire to be digital

Being able to work on a computer seems like a standard skill these days, right? But it’s more than that. Research conducted by Deloitte in July 2020 found a number of key trends that will reimagine the way we do businessi. One key finding is to further capitalize on digital tools to maximize productivity and efficiency. The ability to work digitally means internet-based collaboration tools are our new best friends, emails are a frequent form of communication and software programs are plentiful. The ability to toggle between a document, group chat and email is necessary for success, and let’s not forget that traditional phone and video calls are more active than ever. Having team members who are tech-savvy is no longer optional.

Leading through influence

You don’t need a manager title to be a leader in your organization. Now more than ever, businesses need people who can step up and deliver for their teams and their customers. According to a recent article by Strategy and Businessii: “The best employees don’t need to be managed — they need guidance, because they’re already self-motivated and brimming with ideas.” This is especially true when people are working remotely and don’t always have access to their superiors or peers. Having a “can-do” attitude with the ability to demonstrate competency and leadership is no longer title-driven; it’s necessary in order to have a successful business. Empowering employees with clear mandates gives them ownership over their work and a sense of accomplishment when the company does well.

Communication is key

In Canada, communication skills have been ranked as the highest employability skill, according to a recent Conference Board of Canada reportiii. Email etiquette, customer service skills and the ability to have difficult conversations in a diplomatic way is everyday practice in any workplace, but especially when working remotely. Connecting with customers and colleagues has to be creative since the days of building relationships around the water cooler or over a cup of coffee are gone. Finding employees who can communicate with clarity and empathy will help you build trust and stronger relationships among your team while maintaining productivity from afar.

Serious about sustainability

Incorporating ways to be more environmentally responsible is no longer an option in business; in fact, customers, regulators, investors and employers alike are demanding serious sustainability efforts from the companies they support. Embedding sustainable practices into daily operations will resonate with your team members, who will feel they’re making a valuable difference in forging a path towards a carbon-free future. Employees on the front line who can help find ways to be more sustainable will ultimately shape the culture of your organization, and will demonstrate to customers that you care about more than just the bottom line.

As businesses continue to navigate a new normal in the midst of COVID-19, considerations must be given to what the future of work will look like post-pandemic. Employers must have a clear understanding of how they want their companies to run in the short- and long-term, and what they expect their employees to do now and into the future. Hiring decisions should take into account today’s business needs, but also what will be required in the future with the world in a state of flux.

Contact HSBC to find out more about how your business can thrive in the new normal.

iDeloitte, July 2020, The Future of the Mall
iiStrategy and Business, Is it time to retire the title of manager?
iiiConference Board of Canada, Employability Skills

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