Upskill Cross-Functionally to Get Ready for a Post-Pandemic World

It won’t be business as usual once this is over. Mapping the trends the employment market is likely to chart.

Photo by Bongkarn Thanyakij/ Pexels
Photo by Bongkarn Thanyakij/ Pexels

According to a recent study, 135 Million people could potentially find themselves unemployed in India because of the pandemic. As the future of the economy grows increasingly uncertain, the way we work is also shifting. 

Companies are having to pivot quickly in order to keep up with the drastically changed conditions. From a wine tasting company that has started offering wine tastings to people in the comfort of their homes to fitness companies offering workouts over videos, the word on the street, (apart from ‘go home’), is ‘Pivot or Perish’.

With companies having to shift tracks, adapt to the new changes and make significantly different decisions, what are the implications for individuals? 

Companies are hiring differently, and individuals need to respond to that. 

Take my case, for example. I am a young entrepreneur and I run a digital platform that helps women to build careers they love. Because of the lockdown, I was forced to take a new approach. I pivoted our strategy to prioritise setting up a marketplace for independent women professionals to find work. With that shift arose a need to change the way we hire. Now we need people who have multiple skill sets, so that they can execute and deliver independently when needed. 

The post-pandemic world will need more people who can be agile, adaptive and multi-skilled. With the demand for freelancers likely to rise post-pandemic, as companies decide it is better to hire temp workers rather than full time staff, people who can execute end-to-end on projects and tasks will be in high demand. 

Upskilling cross-functionally is necessary whether you go back to work or not.

For those who might head back to work, roles, responsibilities and work in general will look incredibly different than what we’re used to now. Returning back to work might mean that employees will be subjected to a higher demand of being able to perform multiple roles and pick up on the leftover slack too. Therefore, survival in both of these scenarios will be heavily dependent on the ability to learn and upskill. 

So if you find yourselves at crossroads, unsure of which way to go, try your hand at developing different skills. It is highly likely that you will be called upon to demonstrate many of them in the post-pandemic world. 

In a nutshell, cross-functionality is the ability to do and engage with more than just your area of expertise. So try to develop a basic working knowledge of all areas of business—the roles, goals and demands of different verticals, while having an in-depth expertise in one of those areas. 

Here are some ways to upskill:

1. Prioritise a career driven approach

Train yourself on in-demand industry skills through remote learning methods available to you right now. This approach will most certainly set you up for a sustainable career in the long run. 

2. Digital competency is key for remote work

Every vertical has moved much of their previous face to face work to online platforms. Count digital competency as a definite fundamental skill, see what areas you lack in, and train in those.  

3. Upskilling looks different for self employed professionals

Diving into solopreneurship means that you need to pick up a lot more work that you usually would either delegate or have another team member do for you. Right from cash flow management to project management, you will need to be a jack of all trades, master of some.

4. Give soft skills a chance

Creativity, innovation, the ability to communicate effectively and work in a team—all these are soft skills which are even more important given that remote working seems to be a certain possibility. Don’t overlook them! 

There may be a lot of uncertainty right now. But if there’s one thing that’s certain is that the face of work and business will change. And all we can do about it, is to learn to adapt and grow with it.

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