A lot has been written about what the business world could look like as we start to come out of the pandemic. Most experts agree that we will be spending a lot less time in the office. Many companies have already committed to letting their employees work from home indefinitely. SalesForce recently revealed that it will significantly scale down its office presence. Those won’t be the only changes. So what skills are becoming more important in this new post-pandemic economy?
In September we hosted a webinar with two leading experts in the Talent and Acquisition industries; Eva Sage-Gavin, Senior Managing Director of Accenture's Global Talent & Organization/Human Potential Practice, and Kaye Foster Senior Advisor & Executive Coach at The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) on what skills we will need as we move forward to this new era. In our interview, they revealed important skills and ways you can transition your career forward post-pandemic.
You have probably heard it more than once, but resiliency is a trait we all need. But what does that actually mean? Resiliency can be demonstrated in multiple ways.
For instance, Eva Sage-Gavin talks about the growing need for goods and services to be delivered electronically. A new category is emerging in “essential retail.” So if you were a sales associate in a brick-and-mortar store how do you translate those sales and store operations skills to a technology-driven environment?
These jobs have not exactly vanished, rather they have been moved to our computer and phone screens. It may mean looking at businesses such as “Stitch Fix” or “Nordstroms Trunk Club” or “Like it to Know it,” where you can become a style associate or a social media influencer. Stocking, warehouse, and distribution and delivery of goods are all soaring jobs right now. Being able to transcribe your skills in a new way can demonstrate your resilience and help you navigate your career path in this new era.
It may seem daunting to step out of what you know to move into a new way of doing things, but that is exactly what needs to happen.
“Don’t keep yourself wedded to a specific sector,” says Kaye Foster.
When you look at a job description the ability to craft your identity in terms of the skill or experience is extremely important, and don’t think you have to build your profile out chronologically.
Kaye Foster strongly advises to tell a story---your story, on how your skills, whether from a previous job or life event, make you qualified for this position. When she works with people emerging from homelessness or women reemerging into the workforce, she tells them to hone in on their translatable skills that can relate back to the positions they are applying to.
Soft Skills are the New Hard Skills:
Kaye Foster tells us she doesn’t like the term “soft skills” because she feels that it diminishes their importance, but those skills should definitely be included in your job profile. In the COVID era of remote work skills like communication, the ability to connect and build relationships is increasingly important.
Bill Gates, who predicted the pandemic, is also predicting that remote meetings are here to stay. He says business travel will significantly decrease and ultimately we will be able to ask the question, “Do I have to be there physically?” That goes from doctor appointments to conferences.
So with Zoom here to stay, public speaking is going to be incredibly important. Learn ways to communicate effectively over video conferencing. This will include where to look to make sure you are making eye contact and directing your information to the audience. When you are presenting make sure you have one idea per slide and play around with what your lighting and backgrounds look like. If you are distracted by the way you look, you are not going to effectively communicate your ideas to the audience.
New Leadership Skills
How do leaders effectively manage all these remote employees?
Eva Sage-Gavin says leaders are going to have to “care to do better.” There are five dimensions to leadership that go beyond the traditional analytics and measurements leaders have focused on up until now. They focus on relational qualities like mental wellness, or how do you keep your employees employable by increasing their skill sets. What leaders are now going to have to focus on is the concept of “The Whole Mind Leader.”
These are the skills leaders need to build a company culture that inspires and retains your human workforce.
Leaders will also need to understand the flexibility their employees need as they transition back into a post-pandemic world. For instance, being able to provide a safe and secure environment for their employees, but also understand what are the crucial meetings that people need to attend face-to-face.
Kaye says, “Leaders can now say anything from a staffing perspective, is now possible. So what is optimal?”
What’s required, by whom, and by when. AI can assist in scheduling if you run a factory or a lab where people need to be on-site, but for the typical office worker, leaders can now offer “Think Space.” This is a place where workers can book an uninterrupted space for a 4-5 hour block 7-days a week to meet the needs of your workforce. Not implying that they must come into the office, but if someone is craving some quiet time on a Sunday morning, it is a safe place they can go to be productive. You can have health safety apps that insure health protocols are followed, or even offer testing if needed. This is a unique time that leaders can use to change how their employees can be productive and offer flexibility was impossible pre-COVID.
For more advice on how we move forward and what the workplace future looks like, we encourage you to watch the full webinar. Eva and Kaye offer practical advice you can apply now as both a job seeker and a leader. And don’t forget to catch more leadership advice to help up your career game from our list of renowned leaders on GMN.net.