With the rise of remote work and the perpetual evolution of technologies, the skills and knowledge you need to succeed at work are continually changing. Professionals who are navigating and building careers in flexible work situations must equip themselves to adapt to rapidly evolving environments, technology, methodologies, industry developments, and expectations. Here’s how to do it: by upskilling to meet the new world of work.
Upskilling means investing in yourself to acquire the new skills and knowledge that are in demand in your industry or field. Opportunities for professional education and growth are available through online courses, workshops, on-the-job training, or autonomously. Whether you’re embarking on a new position or evolving within your current role, upskilling is essential in this age of workplace flexibility.
In this post, we will talk about growing your capacities for virtual collaboration, async communication, and digital tools, as well as increasing your visibility and building relationships at work. These are the building blocks for continued success. But before you launch your journey of professional growth, consider the mindsets you need in place to make it all happen.
Mindsets Needed for Workplace Flexibility
A learning mindset is characterized by an openness to new ideas and a willingness to continuously learn and improve. It is about being curious, asking questions, and seeking new information and experiences. This mindset is particularly important in the age of workplace flexibility, since the skills and knowledge required for many jobs are moving targets. With a learning mindset, you will be better positioned to adapt to new technologies and work environments and to take advantage of new opportunities for growth and advancement.
Adopting a learning mindset also means being comfortable with failure and uncertainty. It’s about being willing to take risks and try new things, even if you might not be entirely sure of the outcome. In today’s fast-paced and constantly changing job market, being able to learn from your mistakes and quickly adapt to new situations are crucial for success.
A learning mindset also helps to foster creativity and innovation. When you are open to new ideas and willing to try new things, you are more likely to innovate and come up with fresh solutions to problems. This is particularly important in digital-first workplaces, where new technologies and remote work are driving changes in the way we work, and organizations are seeking new and innovative ways to operate.
You can adopt a learning mindset by seeing challenges as opportunities, asking for feedback, and regularly reflecting on failures and learnings.
A Placeless Mindset is a keen understanding that our lives and work require flexibility in location and communication in order to balance multiple goals and priorities. It requires:
- Embracing location independence over physical presence
- Empowering autonomous work with flexible schedules
- Impacting productivity with asynchronous communication and collaboration
- Being open and transparent
- Trusting your colleagues and employees
You can develop a Placeless Mindset by reflecting on how consistently you practice the requirements above, and challenging yourself to integrate these tenets more regularly in your day to day work.
Which Skills Are Essential?
Now you’re ready to take stock of the areas to focus on when upskilling.
Virtual collaboration is key to flexible work because it allows individuals to work together effectively, even when they are not in the same physical location. With the rise of remote and flexible working arrangements, the ability to collaborate virtually is becoming increasingly important for businesses and organizations.
Successful virtual collaboration is only possible when you are communicating effectively. In addition to being able to express yourself clearly and concisely in writing (see Async Communication), it is important to be able to use video conferencing tools and instant messaging platforms to stay in touch with colleagues and clients. Effective communication also includes taking into account the cultural and language differences among team members and adapting the communication accordingly.
Another important aspect of virtual collaboration is being able to use technology effectively. Are you proficient in using the project management tools, file-sharing platforms, and other digital tools that enable remote collaboration? Do you know how to troubleshoot technical issues and find solutions quickly? (See Digital Tool Fluency).
Virtual collaboration also requires a high level of organization and self-motivation. Team members need to manage their own time and tasks effectively and be able to work independently. They must be able to prioritize work, meet deadlines, and manage their own schedules.
Asynchronous, or async, communication is an essential skill in flexible work, as it allows team members to communicate effectively even when they are not working at the same time or in the same location.
In a flexible work environment, team members may work from different time zones, follow different schedules, or work at different paces. Async communication tools like email, messaging apps, project management software, and collaboration tools allow individuals to communicate and collaborate effectively with no real-time interactions.
One of the major benefits of async communication is that it allows team members to communicate and collaborate on their own schedule, rather than having to coordinate their availability in real time. This can lead to increased productivity, with less time spent on coordination and scheduling. Team members have more control over their work schedules, which can improve work-life balance and lead to better employee engagement and retention.
Async communication also allows team members to document their work and progress, which can be helpful for tracking progress, providing feedback, and facilitating knowledge sharing. Clear documentation ensures that everyone is on the same page, and that work is moving forward smoothly, even when team members are not working together in real time.
Finally, async communication also allows for better decision-making, because team members can take the time to consider and evaluate options, rather than feeling pressure to make quick decisions in real time.
Upskilling in async communication will enable you to work autonomously in diverse work situations.
Digital Tool Fluency
In today’s digital age, digital tools are an essential part of many workplaces and industries, and being able to use them efficiently and effectively is crucial for success.
Having digital tool fluency means being able to navigate and use a wide range of digital tools, including software, apps, and platforms. This can include things like word processors, project management tools, cloud storage solutions, and communication platforms. Fluency also includes being able to use these tools in a way that is efficient and effective and understanding how to troubleshoot and solve problems when they arise.
Being digitally fluent means not only mastering the technical skills needed to use a digital tool but also understanding the tool’s features and capabilities; how it supports business processes, workflows, and objectives; and how to apply it to different situations and contexts.
In addition, as digital tools and technologies are constantly evolving, digital fluency also means being able to adapt to new tools and technologies quickly and effectively. You need to be able to learn new tools, evaluate their usefulness and effectiveness, and integrate them into your workflow.
Visibility is critical to career growth. Your knowledge, skills, abilities, vision, and goals need to be recognized within your organization to access promotions or other opportunities within your organization. They need to be recognized externally to gain access to new resources and relationships.
When you work remotely, you can’t rely on physical proximity to make you visible to your coworkers, managers, and network. Develop other ways to increase your brand visibility, like sharing ideas and establishing channels and messages to highlight your successes.
Developing a personal brand is essential in the age of workplace flexibility because it helps individuals stand out and showcase their unique skills and talents. When working remotely and in different locations, it can be challenging for employees to make their presence known and be recognized for their contributions. A strong personal brand can help overcome these challenges and increase visibility and opportunities.
Having a personal brand is also essential for career advancement. A strong personal brand can help you be recognized for your work, stand out from the competition, and open doors for new opportunities. This can be especially important in a flexible workplace, where it can be harder to be visible to the management and decision-makers.
Internally, individuals can take part in skillshares and cross-training. Externally, remote workers can share their expertise at conferences, in publications, or on social media. If you have not yet begun thinking about developing your personal brand, consider creating branding goals and updating personal brand elements to manage the impressions they leave on others.
Building relationships is an important skill in digital workplaces because it contributes to a sense of connection and collaboration among team members, even when they are working remotely or in different locations. Strong relationships between colleagues and managers can lead to better communication, increased trust, and improved teamwork, all of which are crucial for achieving business goals and delivering results. Solid relationships are cultivated through good rapport and mutual exchange. Upskilling in relationship building requires shifting your mindset toward one of helping, teaching, and sharing with people beyond yourself.
In a flexible work environment, building relationships is even more critical because it can help to overcome challenges that come with remote work and lack of face-to-face interactions, such as isolation. Strong relationships can help to maintain a sense of cohesion and community among team members, even when they are not physically together. They also help to create a positive work environment, where people feel valued and supported.
Relationship building is also an essential part of effective leadership, especially in remote and hybrid work environments. Strong leaders can connect with their team members, build trust, and communicate effectively, which is essential to leading a successful and productive team. By developing strong relationships with their team members, managers and leaders can create a work environment where people feel supported, motivated, and engaged.
Relationship building is also the foundation for building social capital, the product of interpersonal interactions on a societal scale, involving connections between groups of people. Whether within a company, an industry, or larger societal groups, individuals collaborate to achieve common goals. You can leverage your relationships to achieve positive outcomes for yourself and also your company, industry, community, and society.
Set Your Upskilling Goals
To set your goals, the first step is to assess your current mindset, skills, and knowledge, and identify areas where you would like to improve or develop new abilities. Once you have a clear idea of what skills you want to develop, you can set specific, measurable, and achievable goals for yourself, using frameworks such as WOOP or SMART goals.
Then, seek support and resources. Many companies offer stipends or other funding for professional development opportunities that can be used for learning experiences like Growplaceless, which guides you through four key aspects of remote career development: goal-setting, upskilling, branding, and relationship building.
It’s also important to establish a plan and schedule to achieve your upskilling goals. Break down your goals into manageable steps and set deadlines for yourself. Consider dedicating specific time slots every week or month to focus on learning and make sure you are held accountable for your progress.
By following these steps, you will be well on your way to setting and achieving your upskilling goals—and positioning yourself for success in the age of workplace flexibility.