New ways of working: five important soft skills to know about

In light of the current pandemic, governments, people and businesses have had 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 growth in demand for 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, social intelligence and communication skills are key for team leaders and management to be aware of and display.

Social intelligence is essentially the ability to build relationships. 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. These skills are important for both 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, chats 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 clearly.

Time Management

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, individuals are accountable for their own time. It is important to incorporate different aspects of our new ways of working into a 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’’, 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. If you get a grip of it early on then it could end up being a positive thing in the long run, as it will serve you well when working 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 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. Brushing up on this soft skill is 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 you learn new digital literacy skills to make you more employable, or they can 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 engaged in remote working.

The ability to collaborate with a team online 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 and effectively, using channels such as Microsoft Teams.

Getting the time right and paying attention to detail are also important factors when it comes to collaboration. 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 look for in the future.

Negotiation

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 missing with new hires, therefore it is a skill which must be built on and honed.

Just now you’ll be communicating with people, albeit virtually, while working remotely, and maybe even more so than ever before. Everybody is faced with the transition to this new way of working, and so may be facing 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.

Whether you are a professional or a business seeking employees/contractors, it's always a good idea to be thinking deeper than the just technical skills you have or require, as soft skills play a very important role in how people effectively carry out their work. Check out our latest roles or get in touch with us to discuss your requirements further.

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