The power of the pandemic – digitisation of our workspaces.
An interview with Nadine Botha, Registrar Academic of Boston City Campus.
- How has the pandemic changed the workplace in terms of fast tracking digitisation? Imagine shifting a physical office into cyberspace. That’s what we had to do virtually overnight. Hold meetings at a digital table, share documents digitally, communicate efficiently with email and WhatsApp, and ensure products were digitised. In the case of a tertiary institute, it means lectures online, and lecturers available online too. Whatever your business, you had to make sure to continue to service your customer needs seamlessly. We had to learn apps like Teams and Zoom. Let’s take an example of travel agents who were simply shut down, long term. Pivoting their business was not even an option, they had to develop new businesses from the bottom up. Many have gone into sales of either their own produced goods or they have sourced goods to sell. Either way, they had to immediately become digital sales people. They had to market themselves and their product (marketing) create an online presence (branding, web design, knowing your market and how to reach them) and find a way for safe payment and delivery.
- What new digital skills are employees going to need in order to be able to add value in the digitised work environment? We no longer have the luxury of putting a digital skills course such as social media, web design or digital communications on our bucket list or to do list, we were thrown in the deep end and needed these skills immediately!
Digital skills are essential skills for everyone, and also lifelong skills that need to be updated. All employees need to be computer literate, they need to be able to promote business, service and products. They need to function on LinkedIn, and all social media. They will need a combination of new skills such as social media, search engine optimisation, presentation skills and project management, together with ‘older’ skills such as marketing, brand management and reporting.
Team leader and management skills have to be learned and adapted to remote working environments, and a way of ‘socialising’ digitally as this is an important aspect of productivity in the workplace.
- What is the significance of upskilling employees rather than letting them go and how can businesses go about doing that? Do what is best for your business. That is increased revenue and increased productivity. How do you achieve that?
- Decide how you can pivot your business, based on what you have available to you, and include employees in this discussion. They have been on this pandemic journey too and they will have excellent ideas of market place demands as consumers.
- Decide what skills will be needed to put the new business plan in action.
- Assign roles to people,
- Upskill the personnel.
The advantage of upskilling existing employees is that they know your business and your product, and they are already a team who know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. They will be able to work together, assign tasks, and work towards the overall success of the company rather than individual success.
- What are some of the new jobs demanding digital skills? Social media, online sales, web design, project management, presentation skills, communication, supply chain management and logistics, graphics, IT security, networking, A+ and N+, CCNA (cisco certified network associate) , mobile app development
- How can people future proof their job or career? We used to say that IT was a career of lifelong learning, and that if you didn’t want to always be learning, that you shouldn’t do that career. We have now realised that EVERY career is lifelong learning. To future proof your career you should always be doing a new skill and a new qualification. The fourth industrial revolution skills and traits that were already in demand before Covid19, (as seen in the skills in the Bachelor of Social Science), are more in demand than ever. These include flexibility adaptability; critical thinking, creative problem solving and people management.
See short courses including mobile app development on www.boston.ac.za