Enhancing Digital Literacy: A Crucial Aspect of Remote Work and the Future of Workforce
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The Need To Improve Digital Literacy For The Future Of Work Is Only Compounded By Remote Working

While the pandemic has changed how employers think about work from home, there is still a gap in digital literacy for workers to do their jobs effectively.

An article by the UK’s Northern Council for Further Education published this month argues that digital literacy is “crucial to the success of the fourth industrial revolution”. It made us ponder whether a shortage of digital literacy in the work- force is one of the major contributors to the growing skills gap.

Even as far back as 2016, policy makers were identifying digital literacy as a developing issue.

The report ‘Digital Skills for the UK Economy’ published in the same year by Ecory’s for the department of business and skills defined digital skills for the workforce as “the skills linked to the use of applications in the workplace.” The report concluded that “72% of large companies and 49% of SMEs are suffering tech skill gaps”.

The transition towards remote working we’ve seen happen this year means that shortfalls in digital literacy are now compounded by the need to operate a remote workforce, and for individuals to develop their competencies in a distributed environment. One of the easiest ways to learn how to use apps is to have someone sit next to you that already knows the ropes. And, when you hit a snag, a quick side-ask to a work colleague can save oodles of time, cutting out many minutes of trial and error.  I’ve often encountered a problem only to have someone looking over my shoulder offer a helpful suggestion as to how to deal with the issue.  You get none of that ‘social support’ when remote working.

And, if the trend to remote working persists, it’s not just core skills like using apps that employers will have to deal with: With no workplace culture to glue the workforce together, familiar constructs of workplace behavior – like water-cooler moments for instance – will be thrown out of the window. When working in an office, it’s remarkable how much ‘on the job learning’ comes from casual office inter- actions as people pass between meetings, grab a coffee, or take lunch. All of those social interactions are also the moments individuals develop their experiences of interaction with other people doing similar or diverse roles, creating a more rounded understanding of how a business works, who does what, and how to navigate workplace politics to get things done.

How do businesses train workers to excel in a remote environment? We’d like to hear your perspectives. And, for those looking for a VMS solution to manage hiring and retain the best talent, sign up for a demo of SimplifyVMS.