How to prepare for the digital world-of-work?

June 2018

Recently I’ve been working on an insightful project about what the world-of-work looks like in the future.  

We’ve been exploring different concepts about the role digital will play and what it means for organisations, their workforce but also the next generation workforce too.

In this article I wanted to share my perspective on how the future workforce can prepare for a digital world.


As an analogue enthusiast I am content to acknowledge that digital is here to stay.

Don’t get me wrong it still has its moments; who hasn’t walked away from a self-service checkout with more avocados than on the receipt.

Needless to say, across all industries, digital is very much going to be a fundamental part of our future of work.


65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist.

McLeod, Scott and Karl Fisch, “Shift Happens”


So, if we can’t teach the next generation the technical skills required to work in the future workplace what else can we do?

There are 2 options that I can see here;

1)  Wait for someone in the future to invent a time machine to come back and tell us that we should start doing bachelor degrees in Robot Counselling and Memory Augmentation or

2)  We find an innovative new way to prepare us to becoming a ‘Senior Time Broker’, ‘Waste-Data Manager’ or ‘Weather Modification Officer’

Good news! That ‘innovative new way’exists and it has been around for some time now.

I’m quietly smug to profess that to prepare for the world of digital requires us to be more analogue. Yep, I’ve managed to bring it back to analogue again!

Of course what I’m talking about is soft skills. 


“Soft skill-intensive occupations will account for two-thirds of all jobs by 2030.”

Deloitte Access Economics


So why are soft skills important to develop now?

Regardless of it being the digital age we are still going to have to solve problems, we are going to be working with people and we will want to deliver a solution efficiently. There’s also an argument to suggest that as our digital engagement increases our person-to-person experience decreases.


Soft skills are transferrable, hard skills can become extinct. 


So what are the top 6 soft skills for the digital age? Well the guys over at Experis surveyed 20,000 employees in 42 countries and this is what they found.

1. Communication –both written and verbal. In the IT world, this is particularly important as it will help you to better communicate the business value of technical projects to key non-technical stakeholders, making it easier to get buy-in and support from them.


2. Organisation – In today’s fast changing world of work, knowing how to manage your time and prioritise your workload is key to working productively and ensuring deadlines are met. 


3. Customer Service – Regardless of whether you’re customer-facing or dealing with colleagues internally, good ‘customer service’ enhances the reputation of both your business and your own personal brand. Most importantly, it’s a way to build trust with those you’re dealing with. 


4. Problem solving – The need for solving problems can vary and depend on the type of issue, as some problems are bigger or more complicated than others. However, IT professionals are faced with new problems on a daily basis – whether it’s related to the business systems, data or processes. Being able to identify an issue, find a possible solution and then implement it is a necessity. 


5. Collaboration – Having the ability to collaborate with individuals within your team, other non-technical business functions and external stakeholders is essential in today’s connected world. Not only can it ensure a piece of work or project is carried out efficiently and completed successfully, but it helps to achieve long-term success overall. Work gets done quicker; vital knowledge is shared; multiple solutions are identified; and, most importantly, new relationships are built.


6. Leadership – Strong leadership skills aren’t just about ensuring your organisation meets its financial objectives. It’s about being proactive with finding new and better ways of working. It’s also about taking control and making decisions when it matters the most – particularly when faced with a cyberattack. It’s not just those at the top of the organisation who need strong leadership skills, either. With the constant changes that are happening in the world of work, being able to evolve, motivate and adapt your team to ensure it remains aligned with business goals is vital, no matter your level of seniority.


Ultimately, if you’re equipped with a mix of these soft skills in addition to your technical skills, you’ll stand out from the crowd. It’s also worth remembering that learning never stops. The key to long-term success is to continuously develop your soft and technical skills – to continually adapt to the changing requirements of your job, and ensure you remain employable in the long-term.