4 Essential Soft Skills You Need for the Hybrid Workplace

By Mel Sim

Workplace rules are changing and you want to be on top of them…

You’ve read plenty about the hybrid workplace and even the companies right here in Malaysia doing it but what you should also know that to be successful in this unique flexible work arrangements, you need to have some special skills to thrive. We’re not talking about the technical stuff because whether it is hybrid or traditional, that remains.

We’re talking about the soft skills you’ll need to succeed both in the home and corporate office, ie being adaptable to navigate two different work settings. Not being able to work face-to-face with your boss and colleagues as per normal has brought upon a lot of changes in terms of interaction. For example, there could be more misunderstanding when communicating via messages and emails because you can’t read body languages as you would if having a face-to-face discussion. Or being able to brainstorm while in different places can cause the typical energy you used to have with your team to lack simply because you’re not able to physically feed of positivity from one another. Managing expectations and conflicts can be a whole lot tougher when you’re not both at the same space to stop it from escalating or to really understand one another.

Sure, the hybrid workplace has its pros… but also its cons. That doesn’t mean you can’t be accomplished or have a great working relationship with your colleagues! It just means you need to improvise and pick up on these four essential soft skills to work at your best potential in a hybrid workplace.

#1 Invest in your EQ
And we mean Emotional Intelligence. There’s never been a more important time where your EQ comes in handy. Essentially, it is about taking note how your actions might affect others and to also be in tune with another person’s emotions so you can better handle any situation. Having good EQ means you can avoid unnecessary misunderstanding because you don’t make the wrong assumptions and you’re focused on making sure you’re clear in your communication while also paying attention to listening better.

How do you build on your EQ? Be aware of your actions first. Think twice before you pass a comment or make a judgment. Doing this will make you more competent in reading another person’s actions and emotions, even if they are not in the same room as you. It’s all about having empathy to better manage other people’s emotional state so they feel comfortable and are willing to work with you better, making whatever work environment you’re in more productive!

#2 Take Initiative
No boss, no colleagues, no clients to be there and pressure you to do your work and go the extra mile. You can just remain status quo but if you really want to succeed in a hybrid work environment, it’s important you start taking the initiative to innovate and think like a leader.

Some experts call it “intrapreneurship”, where employees employ the rules of entrepreneurship – taking responsibility as if it is their own company, making decisions that will benefit the entire organisation, coming up with ideas and products that will drive the organisation forward. In order words, acting like the boss would! It’s not easy to hone this skill overnight but if you keep reminding yourself you’re a piece of the puzzle in this organisation that will make it whole, you’re likely to take it upon yourself to be initiative. After all, when the company wins, you win too!

#3 Communicate Better
Even more so now in a hybrid workplace! With more workplace communication taking place digitally, it’s important for you to think twice about how you communicate. And we’re not talking just about using your words but also your non-verbal communication that can tell a lot about you as a person. You are relying on more digital tools to communicate and believe it or not, people pay more attention to you on your screen than they do offscreen. So if you look bored, it’s going to be obvious. Or if you are distracted, your boss will know. You want to be able to communicate effectively even if you’re not face-to-face so that your message is loud and clear. Don’t forget too how you communicate with words, whether it is via email or instant messaging.

#4 Show Assertiveness
Yes, confidence is a soft skill you should always develop, especially now so in a hybrid workplace. The new work environment can make it challenging for you to stand out and if you don’t work at it, you can easily fall behind your other colleagues who are more assertive and enthusiastic, even if you are the more competent employee. It can be easy to just stay in the background and keep your head low in the digital sphere but you will find opportunities being given to others who show more willingness to contribute.

Even if you are an introvert, it doesn’t take much to show assertiveness. The first thing you can do is to share ideas and feedback. Or to give more details on the work you’re doing so you show your enthusiasm about it. This will help set the scene for you to contribute more as a key player in your team.

Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

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