Avi Snir, Elevation CEO
The last few months have forced us all to change our daily routines. While we all hope the COVID-19 crisis will pass as soon as possible, it’s hard to avoid seeing the processes and changes some of us have undergone. Some, not all of us, because anyone living with the gadgets and technology of 2020 at their disposal has some chance of having navigated through the crisis unharmed. Those of us who still live in the analog world, however, have had to make a big leap into the digital world. Today, we all understand the role technology plays in all aspects of our lives. Here are some of the changes we are all going to experience in the era following the COVID-19 crisis, when we transition from the coronavirus world to the digital world:
- Technology is Transforming from Enabling Factor to Necessity
Let’s start with the obvious: there are many more people using technology today than there were a month ago. Even people in more traditional areas, such as farming, have realized that they need to have an online presence in order to survive. They have realized that this is the X factor they need to make an honest living.
Over the past few days, my WhatsApp has blown up with messages containing landing pages and campaigns with links to Google Sheets, along with payment instructions on how to use online payment apps instead of paying in cash. In addition, many self-employed workers took on a D2C (Direct to Consumer) brand – a model that belonged to innovative brands in the commerce world until the crisis hit. Once seen as a luxury, maintaining an internet presence and knowing how to use technological tools is how businesses survive today.
- Hundreds of Thousands of Workers Will Have to Reinvent Themselves
When looking at employees, we can identify two opposing trends. In the high-tech industry, which is typically accustomed to using technological solutions for remote work, most companies have not laid off employees and have not had to put tech R&D workers on unpaid leave. On the other hand, in less technologically-developed fields, such as manufacturing, sales, marketing, administration and operations, hundreds of thousands of employees have been put on unpaid leave.
These “non-essential” employees will now have to reassess their value in the job market, think about their existing set of skills and understand what sorts of tools they must equip themselves with in order to be more relevant when the next crisis comes around.
- More Skills, Less Professions
It appears the changes and uncertainty will bring about a shift in certain professions, as well. In general, we have noticed a recent discourse that focuses more on skills and less on profession than it previously had. Because the content and very definition of professions is changing thanks to the incorporation of additional technological skills, they have become more flexible. The toolbox for every profession today is only a starting point.
Another factor worth figuring into this equation is that universities mainly provide a theoretical basis without giving students practical tools, in addition to the fact that studies indicate that 60% of 2030’s best jobs have not yet been created. These two elements lead us to conclude that each of us must invest in understanding the market and developing our skills so that we manage to utilize them in a way that can earn us a living both now and in the future. Employees and companies alike ought to plan and analyze their respective career maps as we begin to think about the era following the crisis. Incidentally, younger generations (Z and millennials) expect their employer to help them accomplish that.
- Employers Will Expect Employees to Have New Basic Skills
The need to accelerate digital processes due to the coronavirus has also brought about a change in the skills pyramid employers expect every potential employee to have. The base has not changed: employers will still look for creative, effective and productive employees with a good work ethic and more. But on top of that, employees will be expected to have greater independence, fast learning skills, and adaptivity. The technological demand will also increase, with the base requirement being what may be considered as rather advanced in today’s world. Talent relevancy will, therefore, have a whole new meaning moving forward, as will employers’ talent management efforts. Some examples of the new basic skills traditional workplaces will require:
Ability to work remotely: Understanding how the internet works, ability to manage an email and calendar, working with Google Drive (cloud), working on shared files (such as Google Docs), having Excel knowhow.
Informatics: Effective search abilities on various search engines, advanced research skills.
Remote teamwork: Using communication platforms like Monday.com, Slack or other platforms that enable tracking and synchronization of staff work.
- Fewer External Suppliers, More Expectations of Workers
The first thing most businesses did in the face of uncertainty was reduce their expenses. Many opted to either partially or fully give up on external suppliers and rely on existing in-house staff instead. This can be likened to an autarky farm, which survives solely on what it produces: vegetables grown in the field, eggs laid by chickens living in the coop, and milk that was milked from a cow that very morning. In other words, turning employees into talents and building those talents has become more important than ever during this crisis.
Currently, the next step is to optimise each talent’s skillset; broadening each employee’s responsibilities and equipping them with new skills that will increase their independence quickly. ROI-driven training during this crisis will make talents last and increase business-wide success even once the ramifications of COVID-19 subside.
- More Independent Workers
The State of Israel has been unable to produce a safety net for self-employed workers yet. In analyzing the risks which are due to follow the crisis, social benefits and relative job security will encourage many self-employed people to return to work as employees, at least partially. On the other hand, after experiencing an almost apocalyptic experience, for many employees, the sense of “doing what I love” will increase, and more people may seek the thrill and activity that can be found in independent work.
The result will be the expansion of the hybrid work model, which will be a combination of independent and employee work. The combinations will not necessarily include roles from the same professional world, but rather combinations that complement who everyone is as a person and the type of content world he or she wishes to create around themselves. As such, you’ll find software developers who will also build careers as photographers, DJs, or bakers on the one hand, while on the other hand, self-employed workers in various fields will try to also hold a part-time job in a safer place.
The long-term effects of the COVID-19 crisis cannot be accurately predicted. One thing that is certain is just how many processes have accelerated after having occurred slowly until now. There’s no doubt that we will see a fundamental change in what the term ‘basic skills’ means for both employees and independent workers, and that our relationship with the workplace will change forever.