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The impact of technology on soft skills

Technology has long been considered damaging to our social skills. And with no sign of the rise of chatbots and emojis abating anytime soon, it seems obvious we’re getting out of practice when it comes to real-life conversations. It isn’t too late to close the gap, though. In fact, technology can – surprisingly – play a key role. Let’s take a look at the problem and some potential solutions…

 

Mike Laskey
Has technology really affected soft skills?

OK, not everyone is so glued to their phone that they bounce from lamppost to lamppost while walking down the street. The impact of technology on soft skills is likely still significant, though – and businesses are feeling the effects.

A survey of more than 650 employers last year highlighted just how difficult it can be to recruit valued social skills. 64 per cent reported it was difficult to source candidates with critical thinking skills, 55 per cent struggled to acquire applicants with communication skills, and the same number found hiring people with interpersonal skills a grind.

 

So we should ditch all things digital and return to the analogue age, right?

Not so fast. The prevalence of technology has obviously had many benefits to business; for one, it’s created a workforce more digitally literate than ever before and well accustomed to learning how to use industry-specific or new systems quickly. This is one reason why there are often recruitment debates over the comparative merits of technical employees and employees with good soft skills.

And by using technology in the right way, it’s actually possible to improve your employees’ soft skills and empower them to use their existing strengths more effectively. Encouraging staff to sit on Twitter all day or only talk to each other over email is obviously not going to help, but harnessing the power of appropriate devices, apps and tools can totally transform your corporate culture for the better.

Broadly speaking, we can break down the benefits technology can have on your business’s soft skills into three categories.
 

Automation

It’s something humans have done for centuries: let the machines pick up the slack while we take care of the more important (or fun) things in life. Until said machines rise up against us to reap their robotic revenge, there’s no reason to break this habit in a business context.

Programs, software and cloud solutions can simplify manual processes that would traditionally take your workforce much longer to complete. That may come as no surprise to anyone who has used a spreadsheet formula in place of an abacus, but the sheer breadth of automation options currently on the market might just catch your eye.

Take Apple Business Manager. Working with a mobile device management system, it can make the enrolment and management of Apple devices across your entire organisation a doddle by automating the entire process. Zero touch deployment means there’s no need for anyone to physically prepare a Mac or iPhone before they’re given to users – potentially freeing up hours upon hours of time for your IT team.

With tasks like these handled by lines of code instead of your frontline teams, your workers will have newfound freedom to concentrate on the human aspects of business that computers will never be able to handle, such as improving relationships with key stakeholders or reaching out to key accounts they don’t normally get round to calling.


Collaboration

As if technology wasn’t enough, there are other factors influencing the soft skills ‘crisis’ faced by businesses. As many as two in five British employees now work from home at least once per week, posing an extra soft skills challenge for companies whose staff no longer interact with others as regularly.

Collaboration tools are one answer. Office 365 lets colleagues work on, annotate and edit documents, spreadsheets and presentations at the same time, no matter where they are nor whether they’re on Mac, iPad, iPhone or PC.

This kind of software means everyone can contribute and communication is encouraged – perfect for honing soft skills and getting work done more quickly, too.


Standardisation

Technology can also be used as part of a wider effort to enhance the soft skills within your business.

Rolling out organisation-wide training programmes is easier than ever thanks to apps like Skype, join.me and Slack, which allow you to bring everyone together at once with a simple conference call, video session or group channel. Taking advantage of more flexible meeting opportunities can open up new ways to promote company policies and encourage relationship development.

There’s no end of products available on the App Store designed to facilitate this kind of internal training and inspire communication between teams so everyone’s on the same page.


The best fit for improving soft skills 

We’ve referenced Apple products throughout this article, and not by accident. Apple has a crucial, massive advantage over other platforms in that all its devices work together in the same ecosystem. Every iMac, MacBook, iPhone and iPad in your organisation can seamlessly connect to other macOS and iOS devices – and that brings with it obvious benefits to your employees’ soft skills.

When colleagues in different departments are able to talk to each other on the same system right out of the box, they’re naturally more likely to do so. Built-in productivity tools make more mundane tasks quicker, meaning more time to restore personal connections with colleagues and customers, and the zero touch deployment benefit of Apple Business Manager seals the deal in making Apple the best fit for improving soft skills.

 

Want to focus less on IT and more on growing your business? Our device management service (DMS24) can save you time and stress. Get in touch with the team by calling 03332 409 214 or emailing business@Jigsaw24.com. For the latest news, follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

 

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