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Honing soft skills in the age of remote work

By Soffos Team
October 28, 2021

When people are working remotely from managers and employees, effective communication becomes ever more essential. We are now living in a world where it is the norm for white collar workers to go about their daily business isolated from colleagues; staying organized and keeping up a clear and consistent dialogue with others is therefore crucial to ensuring that business runs smoothly and efficiently. In the hybrid workplace, staff should still be equipped with the skills and education they require to perform their roles effectively, beyond traditional training methods.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the findings of our research, conducted earlier this year was the fact that over a third of organizations said they experienced communication issues while working remotely, which resulted in wasted time and resources. This underscores the fact that training people for technical skills alone is not enough to run a successful business. While employees may be able to perform highly complex tasks like writing code, or building system architecture, these efforts mean very little without vital skills like communication, active listening, leadership and problem-solving.  

Up until now, the focus on transition to remote working has gravitated towards hard skills, which has caused some teething problems. As training leaders begin to iron out these issues, their attentions should now turn to developing soft skills, which are highly prized in the virtual community.  So, how can firms kickstart these initiatives?

Conducting a needs-based assessment 

Clearly, not everyone in any given organization needs to receive the same training. More experienced and more senior employees tend to be more adept at soft skills merely from life-gained wisdom but may lack the finesse required to use workplace technology to its greatest effect. 

Conversely, Gen Z and millennials might be technology whizz-kids but may need to give more attention to substance and detail when under pressure, especially go-getters who are keen to impress. Managers and employees alike might do well to heed the advice given to Romeo when announcing his intention to marry Juliet: "Go wisely and slowly, those who rush stumble and fall..."

For example, qualities like active listening, charisma and problem-solving will come naturally to some. For others, they made need more care and attention. We all have our own individual strengths and weaknesses, and that’s where businesses must invest in the right technology to identify these traits and develop personalized training initiatives. 

Accordingly, carrying out a skills and shortfalls audit of everyone in the workplace, then mapping the findings to role performance is a solid strategy to ensure that everyone receives the training they need the most. The hyper-personalized approach of Soffos’ suite of apps ensures that people, abilities, requirements and relevant subjects are closely matched. In short, our leading-edge technology has superseded the ‘one size fits all’ approach to training.

Programs powered by AI will have the ability to capture data on each employee – whether this is based on an initial questionnaire, or an individual’s interaction with different courses. If an employee is slightly lacking in self- confidence and struggles with delegating tasks or delivering presentations, then the system would pick up on this and develop a tailor-made curriculum to fill in any gaps. 

 

Lead by example – but with tech by your side

Rome wasn’t built in a day, just as business leaders should understand that cultivating soft skills is an ongoing process that cannot be achieved at the end of a two-week leadership course. Because these qualities can be more difficult to quantify, progress can be hard to measure – especially in virtual settings.

That said, training leaders should set aside the time to match up junior employees with more senior members of the team who demonstrate key soft skills, as an experienced team member will naturally advise subordinates on such matters as part of a day-to-day routine. For example, if an individual finds it difficult to keep a Zoom meeting running to schedule, a skilled leader may be able to offer some pointers.

Remote ‘shadowing’ schemes, where colleagues can attend meetings and virtual Q&A’s with senior managers, can be helpful in this regard, but so too can technology. At Soffos, we’re currently building microproduct apps whereby workers can ask vocational questions, which can then be acted upon and reverted from approved management sources who have the answers. 

We feel strongly that the importance of soft skills cannot be understated as teams continue to operate in a remote or hybrid capacity. Please feel free to contact a member of the team for more information on what the Soffos experience can do for your workforce.