It’s a new world of work out there. Understanding the 5 Job skills you’ll need in what is considered the ‘new norm’ post COVID.

One thing’s for sure, Australia is emerging from the pandemic with record debt and a high unemployment rate.

As we rebuild the economy, even with the stimulus packages in place, many businesses will not survive and many traditional jobs may never return as the way we shop, study and do business significantly changes.

And while many new job opportunities may be created, we may well face a skills shortage and a skills mismatch.

So just what are the new skills that are in demand?


  1. Flexibility

Working from home, many of us have adapted nicely to flexible working arrangements. Is there any coming back from this?

A blended in-office and remote workplace may well become the new norm.

Working from home, levels of productivity have been surprisingly high.

Interestingly employers are experiencing for themselves how productive home working can be and seeing that the technology exists – we actually don’t need to be in the office all the time.

There will be pressure from some workers to keep flexibility and this will come with its own benefits – savings on office space, travel costs and significant time and cost savings of webinar meetings.


  1. Digital Literacy

As we have become more comfortable working from home, learning, shopping and playing online, we’ve communicated, built relationships and managed to stay connected virtually via ZOOM meetings. Guess what? We’ve accepted it.

According to Forbes, the pandemic saw the fastest digital transformation of companies in history.

We are likely to see more subsidised training and upskilling programs as demand for technological skills increase. Specialist skills such as mobile app development, project management, AI, Blockchain, Cyber Security and responsive web application development.

However, what the pandemic showed is the vast majority of employees needed to demonstrate a certain digital aptitude. While the time was not right to embark on training mid-pandemic, those employees that struggled to embrace technology will now partake in much needed general digital skills development.

From a region’s perspective, we needed impetus in this area prior to the crisis. In late 2019 Harvest hosted The Regional Tech Talent Ticking Time-Bomb: Discussion and Debate  where discussions and trend data revealed in the Harvest HR Index, showed Technology IT & T / Business and Data Analysts was one of the ‘Top Discipline in Demand’ in the Geelong region last year. We were concerned about where the Geelong region’s tech experts and digitally literate employees would come from back then – what about now?


  1. Critical Thinking

Every organisation needs critical thinkers.  Deeper thinking and a disciplined process of conceptualising, analysing and applying information.

Critical thinking proved invaluable in adapting business strategy to accommodate government’s response and the restrictions imposed throughout the pandemic. For example, companies who have previously opted for offshore for supply of products and services were found struggling to meet customer needs as they scrambled to gain an alternative supply in a short amount of time.  These organisations are having to re-visit their business continuity plans with the possibility of moving them back to Australia or at least re-adjusting their model. Organisations that have planned, brainstormed, processed options with agility and pivoted to survive COVID-19 have been the winners. Think Gin distilleries making hand sanitiser.

2020 was certainly not the year Harvest was expecting, having to change business strategy from an extensive series of face to face HR Roundtables, Workshops, Masterclasses and the Geelong HR Conference which of course did not go ahead. However, we pivoted early, seeing the need to help organisations through COVID-19  by setting up resources such as webinars, articles, checklists and templates on working from home, and a series of Mental Health and Wellbeing Webinars – all in a matter of days.


  1. Innovation

Teams have stepped up, shown initiative and innovation in their roles – just to keep their jobs and the workplace operating.

Innovative and creative people have always been in demand, but now more than ever, every organisation will benefit from an innovative type.

And if one thing innovation is teaching us, it’s – don’t be afraid to fail.

Many times during the crisis it would have been easy to hide under a rock and say “this is all too hard”, rather than  “how can we do this differently?”

Geelong’s Piano bar had the right idea – if people can’t come to the gigs, bring the gigs to the people. The Piano Bar began live streaming their performances and have us hosting Facebook watch parties and dancing and bopping away through the pandemic – all for a small donation.


  1. Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence – the ability to understand, empathise and negotiate with others.

Uncertain times do not come with a rule book or instruction manual and we all react differently.

According to Harvest HR Partner, Kate Meadows, the pandemic has brought some life challenges that none of us have previously experienced. This experience may result in uncertainty, uncomfortable emotions or a change to life that you had not predicted.  It is more important than ever to be aware of your own mental health.

And it’s important for workplaces to have a Mental health and wellbeing program in place. According to the 2020 Geelong HR Index, 73% of employers are addressing health, safety and wellbeing.

Learn to recognise the signs of someone who’s struggling and do something about it. For team leaders and team members, tuning into their colleagues’ emotions required more intuition than in the normal work setting. Some did it well while others weren’t as responsive. Perhaps they had their own struggles they were facing?

Many HR Managers and leaders have now experienced their team’s response to the crisis. And there is still plenty more that executives and managers will need to address; be it the physical return to the workplace, addressing and appreciating the varying skill sets of team members that were demonstrated during the crisis and determining what skills they would like their team to have in the future.

Learning, retraining so as to adapt to new technology and to enhance your personal skillsets is all part of the changing nature of work but as of late – it’s all moved very quickly.


Where to from here?

For employees:

  • Ask your employer about flexibility.
  • Gain new skills. Ask about additional training.
  • Look after your mental health and wellbeing. Read 10 Powerful ways to cope, when you or those around you, aren’t.
  • Have a chat with the Harvest team about your current and future skillsets to land the job you really want.
  • Embrace the new world.


For employers:

  • There’s never been a more important time to ensure the health and safety of your staff, clients and visitors. Harvest has Work Health & Safety Consultants developing COVID Safe Return to Work plans, procedures and guidelines.
  • Have you got a handle on your future workforce needs? This can be daunting. Harvest has business analysts to inform organisational strategy and workforce planning experts to enable a strong resurgencepost crisis.
  • Are your staff going back to the office unwillingly?  Many employees may well be going back to the office kicking and screaming. Mental Health of your employees is vital moving forward. Harvest has HR Partners experienced in this field including Mental Health First Aid Officer Training for your organisation. Webinar or future face to face sessions.

It’s a new world of work out there and you don’t have to do it alone. No one has all the experience and skills required.  That’s why we have harnessed the region’s best to join the HR Nexus, providing you with the expertise required for your organisation to successfully move forward.

Workforce Planning Workshop. 17th March, 2021. Keep an eye out on our Events Page for more information.

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