Important Workplace Skills Required for Jobs in 21st Century


Last Updated: September 19, 2022
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Our world is changing dynamically thanks to technology and automation, and these changes can even be seen in the modern workplace. This new professional world needs a new kind of employee – one who can leave the process-oriented and routine tasks to machines and bring in a more human aspect to their role.

It may not be an easy switch, but it’s definitely one that will help you improve. Yes, automation will take up quite a few tasks you’ve been doing, but the essence of your job remains the same. In fact, you can now focus your energy on doing your job better and more efficiently. Wondering how? Here are six ways to ensure you are constantly evolving and bringing value to your organisation:

1. Critical Thinking

Woman thinking & working

Machines are trained to follow set formulae and patterns, but not all problems can be solved by a structure. Some problems require you to go over and above the usual methods to come up with the ideal solution. Strong critical thinking abilities will help you achieve that. Critical thinking involves looking at a problem from every aspect and finding the best solution. Here’s how you can hone these skills:

1. Question your assumptions: We make a lot of assumptions throughout our day – it’s how our brain processes information. Make it a habit to question all your assumptions. This will help you question the root of problems and arrive at the right solution.

2. Maintain a journal: Keep a track of everything you do and observe through journal entries to be more observant, and reduce your chances of missing out on important details.

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2. Creativity

Being creative

Machines are brimming with facts, figures and other relevant information. What they lack is the ability to use it in innovative ways. You, on the other hand, have a brain that can come up with new ideas and ways to use existing information. Here’s how you can hone your mind to be more creative:

1. Associate with creative people: The more time you spend with them, the more you start looking at things differently and coming up with new ways to do things.

2. Exercise your mind: Solve puzzles or play games that require you to put your mind to work. Games like Chess, Sudoku, etc., help flex your creative muscles.

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3. Collaboration

Hands stacked on one another

All of us recognise the importance of working in a team towards a collective goal. It is no different when it comes to machines. You can’t wash your hands off and refuse to work with machines because you’re not “tech-savvy” or you “don’t like it”. If you can work with team members you don’t always agree with, you should learn to work with machines as well. Here’s how you can work on adapting machines into your work:

1. Experimentation: Tinker with various machines and look for new ways to use your devices. This will help you become comfortable using machines in your everyday life. For example, you can use your phone to control your television and other remote-controlled devices.

2. Recognise your strengths: It helps if you’re aware of your own strengths and weaknesses. This way, you know exactly what you contribute and what you would need help with.

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4. Constant Learning

Learn blocks in scrabble game

Say you were interested in digital marketing. You would spend roughly two to three years studying the basics, only to graduate and find out that the strategies you learned are now redundant because something completely new is now trending in your industry. Information and trends are evolving so rapidly that our education system is struggling to keep up with the pace. The only way to stay relevant is to keep learning. Find out how your industry works, what’s new in it, what skills you’d need to tackle the challenges that come your way. Here’s how you can keep up:

1. Ask questions: Be curious about the new processes introduced at your workspace, and spend some time trying to understand them. Ask the right people to help you learn how these new processes work and how they will affect/help with your tasks.

2. Take a course: Sign up for certificate courses to learn any relevant skills required for your job. You can also try various online courses on sites like

5. Resilience

Woman ready to run

The dynamically evolving workplace isn’t easy to keep up with; you’ll often find it tiring or too hard. Even if you’re working at your dream job, too much change could affect your morale. However, your ability to adapt to these changes quickly and willingly will set you apart from the rest. Organisations prefer employees who can survive and overcome challenges because accepting pitfalls and rising from them is what success is truly about. Here’s how can work on being resilient:

1. Embrace change: Even in the smaller aspects of life, try to break away from routine. It could be as simple as taking a different route home from work or trying to learn a different language.

2. Focus on your end goal: When the going gets tough, you may lose sight of why you began in the first place. Always keep your end goal in mind. For example, “I love this job”. When you know exactly why you’re here, it becomes easier for you to handle change.

6. Empathy

Two people holding hands

While machines are efficient and great at their jobs, they lack the ability to motivate and understand others in the workplace. A good and well-functioning workplace needs empathy to thrive. Companies need people to feel motivated and happy in the workplace. Your empathy towards your job and coworkers will make you an important asset. While most people are inherently empathetic, here’s how you can cultivate this trait:

1. Put yourself in another’s shoes: Whenever you’re dealing with a situation, look at it from the other person’s perspective as well. This will help you understand where they’re coming from and help them accordingly.

2. Listen: Invest at least an hour every day in another person’s life. You can do this either through a book, movie or simply by talking to a friend. This will help you understand others better.

While the future is uncertain, developing these skills will help you keep up with your job (or keep your job). Instead of being bogged down by the mysterious “automation revolution”, look at it as an adventurous journey of change. Embrace it and strive to keep up. After all, change can only help us learn, grow and evolve!

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