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Robots are coming to a workplace near you. There’s no doubt about it. The only question is, “When?”
Self-driving cars are now a thing, for goodness sake! Pretty soon, humans will only be needed to push a few buttons. At that point, the machinery will do all the work.
For some, this brave new world can feel downright terrifying, especially as it relates to our future career opportunities. Technology and automation have already destroyed countless jobs. But of course, they’ve also created many different and exciting opportunities as well. While some have been left behind, others have carved out a special place for themselves professionally.
If you want to protect yourself and your career from the hazards of technological advancement, you need to focus on developing and leveraging your uniquely human capabilities. After all, technology can do a great many things, but there are some skills that simply can’t be replicated by robots (at least for now).
In fact, the World Economic Forum came up with a complete list of core work skills people will need to be successful in the year 2020 and beyond. The list below represents a few of their findings and will help you “future-proof” your career.
Try as they might, computers simply aren’t capable of experiencing emotion the way humans do. People with emotional intelligence can identify what others are feeling and positively direct their interactions based on that awareness. They can demonstrate empathy, build rapport, give comfort, and genuinely care about others.
The skill of emotional intelligence is essential for many roles, including those with components of customer service, sales, and leadership. Doctors and nurses, for example, may utilize technology to enhance the work they do, but nothing will replace them personally. Their human patients need human contact—to be soothed and assured—and computers simply can’t offer that.
Our human emotions are often seen as a hindrance in the business world, but they are truly one of our greatest assets.
Also read: Leading With Emotional Intelligence
This skill might be a new one for you, but it’s virtually guaranteed that you already use it frequently. Cognitive flexibility is the ability to mentally switch from one perspective or one concept to another, or to consider multiple perspectives/concepts simultaneously.
In short, it’s all about fluidity of thought. As humans, we can think with webs of information, shifting from one idea to the next and back again seamlessly.
This is important in the workplace because we have to be able to quickly think on our feet, even when the situation is brand new or unexpected. This skill is the essence of creative thought.
Technology, at this point, is not able to truly think in such a sophisticated, multi-faceted way.
The advancement of technology has expanded our access to data more than ever before. Now we need our human decision-making skills to determine what to do with it. Organizations may rely on computers to gather the information, but they need people to give it meaning.
To stay competitive in the workplace of the future, you need the ability to manage and analyze large amounts of information, dissect the most important components, and apply advanced problem-solving skills to make well-reasoned conclusions.
Technology has the power to shape our economy and our career landscape. Indeed, it already has. But it shouldn’t be seen as a limitation; it should remind us that we have many important skills that can’t be automated or pre-programmed. Robots may well be our future co-workers, so we’ll have to learn to work collaboratively, leveraging our own unique talents to complement theirs.