A popular storyline in science fiction, the concept of technological singularity states, in a nutshell, is that there will eventually come a point in time when society will become so technologically advanced that machines will no longer need humans to “survive.
Luckily, we’re not quite there yet. However, it is true the pace of technology advancement is moving quickly, which means big changes—both positive and negative—for the way we live and interact with the world around us.
In business, the ability to stay ahead of the curve and respond to changing technological and social trends is a key differentiator. The difficult task of positioning yourself to stay competitive requires skills that will become even more in demand in the not too distant future.
Global Communication skills
With the ongoing evolution of communication technologies, the world is only becoming more connected—and it’s a trend that isn’t slowing down anytime soon. As the barriers to doing business on a global scale continue to come down, the ability to communicate with people from around the world and from all walks of life will be more important than ever.
Remote work discipline
The advancement of technology isn’t just changing the way we communicate; it’s redefining the way we work. Today, it’s easier than ever to work remotely. The traditional model of going to an office every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. is changing as many workers now have the freedom to work from anywhere they can connect to the internet. Of course, with this freedom comes great responsibility. The discipline to stay organized and on task away from the structure of an office setting will be an increasingly important soft skill.
Knowledge is already at our fingertips, and will only become more attainable in the future. To stay competitive, workers will need to be masters of multiple disciplines within their organizations. It’s not going to be enough to just know your job, at least some working knowledge of other roles will be necessary. With the growing recruitment war, those who develop a broader range of skills will be in a better position to help fill the gaps in the workforce that are becoming more difficult to fill.
Interpersonal communication skills
With all the promise social media brings, one of the major pitfalls can be seen in restaurants, sporting events, concerts, and even schools— everyone is staring at their phones instead of interacting with each other face to face. What effect this will have on interpersonal relationships and social skills is yet to be seen, but being able to connect with other people in real life may become one of the most important skills that job seekers can bring to a potential employer.
The classics will still reign supreme
Soft skills in many ways transcend advances in technology or changing work environments. In a 2016 survey, Express Employment Professionals asked business leaders what they believe the most important soft skills a job applicant should have. The results revealed that although the workplace is constantly evolving, some skills will always be in high-demand, including:
- Dependability/Reliability – 72%
- Motivation – 48%
- Verbal communication – 44%
- Teamwork – 39%
- Commitment – 39%
No matter how the workplace may change in the future, people will always be the heart and soul of the business world. Some of the most important qualities of great employees can’t be programed into a machine or easily expressed via a virtual meeting space. Investing in great people is the single best strategy for any business to prepare for the future.
Having done business around the world, I’ve found that Americans, often lacking foreign language skills, are at the same time at an advantage and disadvantage. English is often the 2nd language of choice in non-English speaking lands. I’ve rarely had to rely on phrase books or hasty Berlitz classes as my counterparts usually were more than capable with the necessary English skills. But I’ve hard to wonder, is relying on the universal embrace of English something we can count on for the long term. As Asian economies grow and maneuver into dominance, will our inability to learn Chinese, Japanese or Hindi limit our position as a nation or even our own personal prosperity?