Some say the world of work has changed forever. For many employees, there is still the possibility of working 100% on-site. But for others, there are new opportunities to be part of hybrid and remote, cross-border, cross-functional teams. As this global workplace becomes the norm increasingly, organisations need global skills to succeed.
According to a Gallup study, hybrid working is actually increasing post-pandemic. It is now a significant factor in job searches. In fact, it’s anticipated that 23% of employees will be fully on-site post-2022, and only 9% say they prefer in-person work.
The study also found links between flexible working and job satisfaction. As well as engagement, well-being and the ability to avoid burnout. And another significant factor for employers: employee retention. It’s clear that flexible working policies will be essential to attract and retain top talent.
Hybrid and remote working have greatly contributed to ‘boundaryless’ workplaces. In a recent remote work survey, 74% of employees reported that their immediate team members are in multiple time zones. And most work with colleagues in two to five different time zones.
However, operating in different regions isn’t enough to become a truly global organisation. There is much more to it. According to Anna Schlegel, “being global is more than a word or a title, it’s learning how to operate for worldwide success .”
One thing is for certain. Employees need a variety of global skills for businesses to be competitive on a global level. To close this skills gap, L&D teams must review existing competency matrices and conduct a thorough training needs analysis. But which are the most critical skills for a global workplace?
Read on to find out.
Key skills for effective global working
Identifying the skills needed by organisations now and in the future is an important part of the British Council’s work.
In our “Culture at work ” research, we identified a range of global skills employers most value and look for when recruiting talent. Based on interviews with HR managers in 367 large organisations across the globe, these 11 skills ranked the highest:
- Continuous learning
- Analytical skills
- Intercultural skills
- Job-related qualifications and expertise
- Interpersonal communication
- Time management
- Collaboration and teamwork
- IT skills
Prioritise the skills that add value to your organisation
Trying to upskill your teams in all these skills at once would be ineffective. So, what’s the best approach? Prioritise the key global skills that can immediately impact your organisation. Ensure these are embedded in the working methods before moving on to other skill areas.
In the study, we also asked HR Managers to rank the skills identified according to their value to their organisations. More than 50% of the micro-skills that ranked high relate to three essential areas critical for success in global organisations.
We’ll now unravel these three skills and their value to your organisation.
1. Intercultural skills
One of the biggest challenges in a global workplace is collaborating with people whose preferences and behaviours differ from ours. Particularly if we haven’t previously experienced different cultural contexts.
Developing intercultural skills, especially for a hybrid and global remote work environment, is essential. Without them, teams can experience miscommunication, lack of collaboration and problems with engagement and retention.
Intercultural competence training can be valuable for developing skills in the following areas:
Awareness of own cultural influences and preferences: Having a clear perception of one’s self enables team members to understand how others may view their behaviour and preferences. It can also make them more aware of their own biases and likely responses in intercultural situations.
- Understanding of different cultural contexts and viewpoints: By learning about other cultural influences, team members gain a broader perspective in new or different situations.
- Open-mindedness and empathy: A willingness to listen and accept different ideas can help team members change their thinking patterns. This is essential to avoid over-generalisations and stereotyping those who are different. Developing empathy will make them feel more comfortable in complex situations and put others at ease.
- Resilience and stress management: Working across cultures can be stressful. Especially in the early days when there are a lot of unknowns. Building tolerance for ambiguity, along with resilience, will help them remain positive and continue learning from experiences.
2. Interpersonal communication skills
Hybrid and remote working can make communication more challenging, especially in intercultural situations. And when we primarily use online communication, interactions tend to be more transactional – reducing opportunities for deep connections.
The result? Poor communication that leads to wasted time, slower progress, and not achieving key business goals and KPIs. This can seriously impact your organisation’s reputation, image and performance.
To overcome these communication challenges, your teams need to develop these three useful global skills:
- Mindful listening: By practising being fully in the moment and listening attentively, team members will be able to better understand, take in messages and respond appropriately.
- Effective questioning: Asking the right questions can greatly improve productivity and performance. Developing clarifying, checking and confirming understanding skills will help teams take suitable action.
- Adapting verbal and non-verbal communication: Developing the ability to adjust body language, words and tone to different contexts is an invaluable skill. Team members that master this ability will more likely build rapport with those who are different from them. And better engage with them, resulting in improved collaboration and outcomes.
3. Collaboration and teamwork
How do teams effectively collaborate in globally dispersed, hybrid and global remote work situations?
The fewer informal interactions, the less spontaneity there is. And this can have negative impacts on camaraderie, leading to disengaged team members. Another challenge is fostering creative thinking and problem-solving. As some remote teams tend to focus more on core tasks, relying mainly on emailing and video meetings. This approach may boost short-term productivity but decreases longer-term performance.
However, there are ways to encourage better collaboration and teamwork if your teams develop these essential global skills:
- Building strong rapport: Team members who are more self-aware, show interest in others and sensitivity to others’ communication preferences will develop better connections. This enables deeper relationships, trust and improved engagement.
- Adapting to different working styles: When teams take the time to understand team members’ work preferences and adapt to them, it improves collaboration and produces better outcomes.
- Making room for creativity: Introducing improv activities such as brainstorming tools in meetings and events creates opportunities for focused creativity. This can improve problem-solving and innovative thinking – increasing longer-term performance.
You now have a good overview of the most critical skills for global success. No matter where your teams are in the world, these skills will help them work effectively. With hybrid and remote working here to stay, we can benefit from all the opportunities they offer. Like helping organisations create ‘boundaryless’ workplaces, so they can succeed in an ever-changing world of work
The article is published in association with British Council. It was originally published here.