What is the future of work, from the perspective of an employee? Well, it's likely to be a little - or a lot - different than today. The world’s workforce will have to adapt. New roles will be created while other roles become redundant.
We know that AI will take over some of the more repetitive jobs, but humans have unique skills - such as emotional intelligence and creativity - and any talk of the robots taking over is nonsense.
As such I thought I'd compile a list of future skills that you can learn, develop and nurture.
Most of the skills outlined in that report began with ‘c’, so it didn’t help me too much with this A-Z format, but here goes...
A is for Adaptability
This one is not a surprise. Organisations will continue to make the most of new technologies as they are rolled out. It will be down to the rest of us to develop our skills to such a level that we can use them without problem. The employees of the future need to be adaptable and agile.
B is for Business sense
Some degree of business knowledge will help increase your employability. Many of the world's fastest growing companies are startups, which look for entrepreneurialism and commercial acumen. A side project can be a good way of learning some business smarts.
C is for Creativity
The art of being creative is a unique human quality. It allows us to write books, compose music and draw art. These are all things that other species are incapable of, and artificial intelligence would have to come a long, long way to compete with us on that score. AI may well take over some mechanical work in the future, but humans will always be needed for their creative input.
D is for Dynamism
Quick reactions will likely be key to staying on top of the future job market. This could apply to those displaced by AI or similar technology in the future - it will likely be on their shoulders to demonstrate the ability to shift with the times.
E is for Emotional intelligence
This is all about being able to identify and regulate your own emotions, and also show empathy towards those of others. The former can help reduce procrastination and increase effectiveness in the workplace, and the latter will help you to forge stronger bonds with your teammates. Surveys have shown that 71% of hiring managers say that they valued emotional intelligence over IQ.
Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, stated in 2014 that 90% of the top performers at work are high in emotional intelligence, and only 20% of the bottom performers are this way.
There is a new breed of 'EngageTech' business tools that focus on "engagement, emotional connection, and nurturing very human emotions like trust, reciprocity, belonging and good will", which will help bring these unique skills to the fore.
F is for Flexibility
Cognitive flexibility, to be more exact. Nobody wants to see your plié move in the office.
This is a psychological state of being able to refocus attention and adapt behaviours when external stimuli change. This pretty much describes the future of work. Technologies and methods of work are going to change, and it’s going to be important to have the capacity to keep on top of it.
G is for Globally connected
Links to various parts of the world will serve to help people more and more into the future. As transport becomes faster and messaging becomes easier, organisations readily have contact to places a fair distance away. Offices in multiple continents will become even more the norm.
Can you speak Spanish? Have professional contacts in Asia? All of these global skills and links will help you to progress your career in the future.
H is for Helping others
This is a rather underrated skill. Being able to share your knowledge with someone in a way that they can understand it is a talent, and it also allows companies to grow and relationships to flourish.
In fact, we think it’s so important at Guild that we wrote about some best knowledge-sharing practices.
Of course, this is a skill which has always been around and always will be, but its importance certainly won’t decline.
I is for Interdisciplinary knowledge
It’s going to be a must to have some specialist knowledge from multiple fields in the future. Coming up with solutions to new issues will require workers to pull in knowledge from more than one field, and the ones who can do this best will be amongst the most employable.
Practice doing some daily research about topics you are interested in, and slowly broaden your horizons!
J is for Judgement
A skill which serves you well in all of life, and is certainly not something new going into the future. However, being able to make the right decision from a set of data is something that will make you instantly more employable.
K is for Kindness
In tomorrow’s ever-stressed out world, a little kindness and empathy towards those around you will be a valued quality. It’ll also help you demonstrate social skills and emotional intelligence in the workplace, and ensure that you are considered a much-needed member of the team for years to come.
L is for Learning
Implementing effective forms of learning will always put you one step ahead when it comes to increasing your skill-set. It is usually helpful to figure out what type of learner you are, and then execute the behaviours that will help you learn the most.
For example, an auditory learner would make the most progress tackling an issue by listening intensely to some instructions. Making the most out of your learning style can help keep you on top of all other skills which will be required in the future.
Lifelong learning is central to career - and personal - development, and companies that support learning programmes will be among the best places to work.
M is for Malleability
According to Nick van Dam, global chief learning officer at McKinsey & Co., “lifetime employment doesn’t exist anymore”. This means that companies dissolve more often, so employees will have to hold down a few positions over their lifetime.
A rigid desire for one type of job or a lack of diverse skills could really be detrimental for workers of the near future.
N is for New-media literacy
It’s no longer “cool” to be ignorant about the latest technology. Some people pride themselves on the fact that they stay simple, and don’t dabble in any technology. However, for the jobs in the near future, being able to comprehend new forms of technology and media is going to be vital.
O is for Organisation
In a past time of fewer distractions, it may have been easier to work more effectively. Nowadays with the repetitive buzz from our mobile phones, and hundreds of daily emails to sift through, organisational skills are becoming a priority.
You can increase your productivity at work in four key ways: focus, learn, collaborate and socialise. Make the most of your time by becoming better organised. Your boss will thank you for it.
P is for People-management
This one makes an appearance on the World Economic Forum report of the 10 most important skills for 2020. Although technologies and job titles will be changing, there is always going to be the need for strong leaders and managers who can motivate a team of workers.
Q is for Quantitative skills
Handling data, understanding statistics and feeling comfortable around numbers. These are all highly sought-after qualities in the current job market, and this will probably just continue to be the case into the future.
With automation anticipated to rapidly increase, coding and number-crunching will be central players.
R is for Research skills
With a considerable amount of new information coming to light, and the inevitable implementation of new working techniques, it is going to be important to have the skill to conduct your own research. Having the gumption to work things out for yourself will save you lots of time.
Nesta lists research and quantitative research skills as one of the most promising skills to have on your side by 2030.
S is for Social intelligence
With the impending increase in automation, humans will likely be pushed into roles which require strong communication and the need to be creative with each other. This is according to the Institute for the Future, which places social intelligence as one of its key skills to develop going into the future.
T is for Transferable skills
Not just a hot phrase for university graduates explaining what they learned during their studies, transferable skills are also key in the workplace. Nail your communication skills, problem solving skills and learning skills and you will be able to give a good go at any sort of job.
U is for Understanding other nationalities
The global nature of work will keep rising, and international colleagues will become commonplace. To help keep communication polite and respectful, it will be important to understand and respect some basic values of other cultures and countries.
V is for Visualisation skills
A nice mixture of creativity, imagination and problem-solving, visualising your path to completing the task at hand is often a good way to get things done. Efficiency will always be a valued trait, so anything you can do to increase that will help you in the future.
W is for Written communication
Even if your future job doesn’t specifically involve writing, it will always remain a key part of the way organisations communicate. Being clear when sending messages to colleagues is very important for the smooth progression of tasks.
X is for X-cultural competencies
Cross-cultural communication is going to be crucial with the ease of global messaging. Impactfactory.com provides some tips to help you perfect your cross-cultural conversations, including avoiding slang and etiquette tips.
Y is for Your network
Building and maintaining your professional relationships is a crucial part of developing your career. People who bring a black book of connections are always sought after, as they can help to open doors and recruit proven talent.
It goes without saying that helping people to stay connected to the right people is one of the reasons why we launched Guild.
Z is for Zealous
Not a noun, I know. But cut me some slack with the ‘z’. Being zealous simply means to be full of passion for a task. Showing enthusiasm and being someone who is uplifting to work with will likely win over any workplace even hundreds of years from now.
The Future of Work community on Guild is the perfect place to discuss questions around the skills of the future. The community shares expertise, experience and thoughts on how we design the future of work together and what technologies and practices we can use to foster a more equitable, sustainable future. Find out more and join (free) on guild.co/groups/2731/future-of-work-reimagining-business
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