Widespread telecommuting has long been the dream of many workers and urban planners alike. But tradition and the lack of familiarity with work-from-home solutions kept the number of employees working from home in the Philippines relatively low. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, virtually all local businesses had to explore the possibility of work from home options for at least some of their employees.
While some of us are likely to start going back to their offices eventually, many will also continue to work from home indefinitely. Thanks to the forced experiment in telecommuting, many businesses have realized that there are advantages in efficiency and cost-savings to be had by adopting a rational work from home policy.
This new normal will change job hiring standards in the Philippines forever. Here are just some of the job skills fresh graduates and veteran employees alike will need to have in their tool belt.
1.) Tech literacy
Not all employees will be able to rely on the technical know-how of onsite IT and SysAd experts. Those who will be working from home will be expected by employers to be somewhat more competent in IT troubleshooting than an office-based employee would be. Even office-based employees will need to improve on their tech literacy, as they will have to use more collaborative tools to work with home-based coworkers as well as people from all over the world.
2.) Deck presentation skills
Delivering effective presentations can be challenging enough when done in person. Serious remote presentations are uncharted territory for many Filipinos in the workforce. While you might lose a bit of stage fright, delivering your points in a remote presentation be even more challenging due to the lack of a human factor. In most cases, it’s harder to keep the attention of your audience in a remote conference than it is to do the same thing in person.
While video presentations can help restore a bit of the human factor, there is still often a gap that makes it harder to express abstract ideas in this way. This makes it important that job applicants and current employees alike hone their skills in delivering presentation decks over video. Their diction, slide composition, data presentation, storytelling skills, and technical aptitude in using presentation apps are now going to be more important now than it used to be pre-COVID-19.
3.) Remote management
Interacting remotely with others is one thing, learning how to manage them effectively is another. Anyone interested in a leadership or supervisory role will need to have skills related to the effective management of remote teams. While this is similar to managing teams in person, there are some important subtleties to take note of.
Some of the skills you will have to learn may involve the use and mastery of collaborative and workflow management software, effective email writing skills, as well as all of the soft skills needed to become an effective leader in person. Of course, it pays to understand the psychology of employees in work-from-home situations as well.
4.) A commitment to learning
Skills development is not necessarily impossible in a work-from-home setup. However, unlike skills development in the office, most of it will have to be on the employee’s initiative. Likewise, mentorship, which is widely acknowledged to be an important part of an employee’s development, can be a greater challenge to practice effectively as well.
For skills development, there are now thankfully a number of widely-recognized solutions for learning at your own pace, including Coursera, Udemy, iversity, Skillshare, and many more. As for mentoring others and being mentored yourself, both will involve having to not only master your available communications tools but also understanding how to tailor your approach depending on who you are communicating with.
5.) Analytical and pragmatic thinking
The autonomy that work-from-home employees are given can be disastrous to a business if they do not know how to use their freedom. This means that more critical thinking and pragmatism is going to be required of employees in a post-COVID-19 workplace.
In other words, we might see the beginning of the end of the stereotypical Filipino work situation where employees just have to blindly follow what they are told. It can be impossible to prosper in a work-from-home situation – or att the office — if an employee is not self-motivated and able to think for themselves.
The pandemic, while a serious threat to the lives of workers everywhere, has spurred businesses all over the world into allowing working arrangements that are not only safer for employees but also theoretically more beneficial for their productivity as well. Even employees that still need to be physically present at a worksite will feel the benefits in terms of less-stressful commutes and workplaces that are less likely to make them sick.
Even as applicants and employees alike experience these unexpected benefits, there will be skill changes required to make the most of the new job market. In any case, the old way of doing business is not going to be here for much longer.