The digital skills employees and company leaders need in the age of remote work

Even though employees would like a hybrid of remote and office work, they'll still need these tech skills to be successful.                                          

Carter Liebscher|
July 2, 2020

Employers expect robust digital skillsets from employees. Employees expect the same from their managers.

Even as remote work becomes more comfortable and the challenges from implementing the proper tools have become more manageable, both employees and employers are wondering how long they will have to keep the impromptu kitchen or bedroom office set up.

Others who are looking for a new role as a result of the COVID-19 crisis may be updating, revising, and beefing up their resume, bringing up an important employment question in the process: What digital skills do I need to not only land a new position, but be able to do it remotely?

Some employers might overstate the technological ability new hires need; others might undersell it, creating a steep learning curve as a result.

The flipside to current and potential employees’ pains in being hired under our current circumstances is, naturally, employers’ own technological shortcomings. Whether stemming from a low-impact IT plan or simply lack of exposure, the tech skill gap among managers and executives—70% of whom say current employees lack tech and other computer skills—may be great and growing.

What, then, are the digital skills current and prospective employees and managers need to thrive in the age of remote work—and the age of tech-based knowledge work?

Employees won’t need a computer science degree or any CompTIA certifications to WFH successfully, but they should have basic knowledge in computer safety to ensure no work-related materials are comprised on their home network.

So far, it seems as though many companies’ IT departments have stepped up to the challenges remote work has introduced, with 89% of home-working employees having no criticisms of their employer’s IT department. However, among that same group of surveyed employees, 34% would like to work from both home and the office in the future.

If employees are to be transitioning frequently between working at their office and working at home, they will have to round out their cyber awareness.

Technical knowledge doesn’t just mean hard technical skills. True technical knowledge is having a combination of soft and hard skills, including which pieces of software to use for specific tasks and being able to switch between different platforms as needed.

Technical agility, as defined by Computerworld, refers to both the individual and organizational ability to integrate existing tech, like software, with newer (or simply other) tech. When hearing this definition, company leaders may think in terms of infrastructure—how much it will cost in terms of hardware and technical expertise. Employees, on the other hand, may think of their ability to share their work with peers whose home computers may not be compatible with theirs.

For example, your in-house graphic designer will likely need to share their work with marketing. Despite the overlap in responsibilities, not every marketing team member will be proficient in, or even have, the designer’s preferred design program. The two groups, then, must use compatible formats in order to successfully collaborate, requiring a sense of software empathy.

In order to boost employee engagement, employees will need to know how to share their work—and leaders will need to know how to tap into that knowledge and experience to make rapid decisions.

We are huge proponents of active employee collaboration—between disparate departments, between employees and their managers, between everyone.

Communication platforms are simply tools. Being online on Slack, for example, isn’t the same as being active on it. Communicating frequently on role-appropriate channels—and even not-so-relevant channels for manager—is a soft technical skill necessary across your organization’s hierarchy.

Plus, you’re going to be more tuned into your employees’ innovative ideas when a remote communications protocol is set in place.

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