Soft skills to practice in the ‘new normal’ workplace

Companies worldwide are rethinking their strategies for employee engagement and management, as countries ease lockdown rules. Many predict that remote working will become the norm post-COVID-19 and Twitter, Facebook, and Square – among others – have already announced the implementation of work-from-home policies. There are numerous benefits to flexible working, but it also requires a change in interpersonal skills in the workplace. No matter your status in your company, here are three soft skills to focus on:

Practice trust

One of the main difficulties of working remotely for managers and leaders is the lack of face-to-face supervision that generally ensures that employees get the job done while in the office. In the past months, managers and leaders have had to instead trust that their teams are productive. Micro-managing could be an alternative, but it’s one that often leads to a decrease in employee wellbeing due to increased stress levels and, ultimately, lower productivity. In countries such as the Netherlands, where the majority of people had already been working from home pre-pandemic, workers say that trust is a key element that enables a system that promotes flexible working.

Trusting their colleagues is not something only leaders or managers need to practice, it is something everyone working in a company should practice. Teams become stronger when employees trust that their co-workers are also getting their jobs done. Making trust a default of your workplace culture is crucial in the process of rethinking what the best way forward is for your organisation.

Practice empathy

Just like trust, empathy needs to become the status quo in companies, something that can only be achieved from the top down. Leaders and managers need to be seen practising empathy towards each other and towards employees in this tumultuous year. Showing empathy leads to better employee engagement and a healthier workforce as employees feel less lonely. The boundaries between work and personal life have become more and more blurred, so it is important for managers and leaders to ask how their employees are feeling and how they can help them to better cope with the stresses caused by the pandemic.

Practice authentic communication

Practising trust and empathy can only be achieved through authentic communication. Being transparent and communicating regularly with employees, about the difficulties the company might be facing in a letter from the CEO, for example, creates trust. Making sure to regularly check-in with everyone before starting a meeting and taking the time to listen to people’s frustrations and worries shows empathy. Authentic communication is essential for creating a healthy work culture and is the only way to navigate a crisis.

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