By Jared Weitz, founder & CEO of United Capital Source Inc.
Workforce culture seems to be on track for a dramatic change in 2020. The growing prevalence of advanced technology and flexible hours could make the average worker's day-to-day routine very different. This begs the question: How will workers react to these changes?
As a veteran entrepreneur, I believe that many people will adapt by improving a number of increasingly essential abilities. They'll realize which skills have become more relevant as a result of this new culture and its impact on consumer demand. In my opinion, businesses and consumers will place more value on the skills that reflect a business's humanity.
Here are three workplace skills that will gain relevance and utility as we move into 2020:
This is one of the few skills that will stay relevant no matter what the workforce of the future looks like. A considerable number of jobs will likely be replaced by artificial intelligence in the coming years. Most of these jobs, however, involve fairly monotonous responsibilities. The worker does not regularly encounter new, unfamiliar challenges with no clear solution.
These are the kind of problems that only a human being is capable of solving. As artificial intelligence is integrated into more and more businesses in 2020, workers will become more aware of what separates man from machine. They will hone their abilities to think creatively and solve new problems, since robots probably won't be able to do this anytime soon.
At my business financing company, job candidates often recall previous instances where they've persevered over adversity. They prove their worth by emphasizing that they don't get discouraged when their first attempt at a new task doesn't work. I wouldn't be surprised if this became the norm for job applications and interviews in general. Candidates will feel the need to show potential employers that in an AI-driven world, they know the real value of a human being.
I believe that the dominance of technology is causing people to develop a newfound appreciation for displays of humanity. Consumers are becoming less tolerant of generic, blatantly scripted emails and other marketing materials. They want to see real heart. Think about the last marketing email you received that sounded like it was written personally for you, and the sender actually cared about earning your trust. You might not have responded, but it stands out in your memory.
I've met a lot of people who specialize in this type of marketing, and they prefer to be called "storytellers" instead of "marketers." This is mainly because they focus on telling the "stories" of what will happen if the potential customer chooses their product or service.
In 2020, I predict that storytelling will become the new standard for various forms of outreach marketing. Conventional sales talk might convince someone to buy from you once. But in my experience, heart is what creates loyalty and referrals, both of which have only become more valuable as of late.
You may think that the shift toward flexible hours and remote work would discourage collaboration among team members. I admit that I was initially skeptical about giving my employees more flexibility. But to my surprise, most of my employees are actually communicating to one another more frequently when they're working from home.
Some have told me that since they prefer working from home, they want to prove that it won't inhibit the team's productivity. This includes my creative team, which must communicate constantly to develop strategies, interpret data and provide feedback on one another's work.
To me, this shows that if you truly thrive on collaboration, working in different locations than your colleagues won't stop you from harnessing the power of teamwork. I believe that as remote work options become more common in 2020, workers will adapt to be even more collaborative than if they were in an office. Think of how effective salespeople can be over the phone. The fact that they aren't face to face with potential clients doesn't stop them from exuding their talents.
We Have Efficiency, Now We Need Quality
Problem-solving, storytelling and teamwork will be in high demand in 2020. Many workers will likely need these skills to keep their jobs as businesses raise their expectations for performance.
I'm hopeful that once businesses make the necessary moves to maximize efficiency, they will turn their attention to the other piece of the puzzle: the components of quality work.
Jared Weitz is founder & CEO of United Capital Source Inc.