Soft skills “critical” to remote working success

New research conducted by recruitment firm Drake International reveals that soft skills such as communication and a strong work ethic are in high demand among Australian employers as they implement long-term plans to continue working remotely.

Of more than 100 respondents from a wide range of industries and roles, nearly 60 per cent said they prefer to work from home for one to three days, with only 20 per cent preferring a return to working full-time hours in the workplace.

“This suggests a huge portion of workers prefer a flexible, hybrid work environment and will likely continue to be the case even when COVID is a thing of the past,” Tanya Anderson, Recruitment Manager at Drake International, said.

The survey found that organisations that have been working remotely consider the following soft skills to be the most critical to productivity:

  1. Communication (84.5 per cent).
  2. Work ethic (47.6 per cent).
  3. Adaptability (38.8 per cent).
  4. Time management (38.8 per cent).

Other desired skills include dependability (31.1 per cent) and collaboration (30.1 per cent), while skills deemed less important in a prospective employee include problem solving (14.6 per cent), emotional intelligence (13.6 per cent), critical thinking (3.9 per cent) and creativity just 1.9 per cent of respondents regard this as a “critical” skill.

“In Australia’s shift to remote work, some employers were all of a sudden witnessing some employees finding the remote work environment challenging for a number of reasons,” Anderson said

“Technical skills and abilities that allow some team members to thrive in a physical workplace quickly became less important as we saw some ‘soft skills’ became invaluable in this new autonomous environment.”

An overwhelming 93.3 per cent of respondents said they would continue to prioritise the aforementioned skills in future recruitment.

“Technical skills will remain important and continue to evolve, however, with a significant shift toward hybrid working models, some soft skills have become nothing short of absolutely essential, such as communication and work ethic,” Anderson stressed, adding that the best way recruiters can identify such soft skills in potential candidates is through psychometric testing.

“Psychometric assessments are necessary in recruitment today as they provide valuable insights into certain behaviours and attributes of a candidate,” Anderson said. “Employers need to understand the decision-making style, communicative qualities, energy levels and the motivation levels of candidates, as well as the ability to self-monitor.

“These are all important traits to consider when recruiting for more autonomous roles which are becoming more common as so many companies move toward a flexible hybrid working arrangement between the workplace and home,” Anderson added.