To Succeed In A Virtual Workforce Era, Effective Digital Leadership Skills Are A Must

As working from home becomes part of the new norm, our reliance on a virtual workforce raises the question: how do we cultivate a harmonious relationship with technology?

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

The past year has seen a revolutionary change in the way we work, challenging us to adapt to a new digital workplace. As working from home becomes part of the new norm, our reliance on a virtual workforce raises the question: how do we cultivate a harmonious relationship with technology?


The UAE government is at the forefront of navigating this challenge. In line with the UAE Centennial Vision 2071, its new National Digital Wellbeing Policy aims to ensure the digital world is ethical, sustainable, inclusive and responsible. Creating a safe and positive digital environment is paramount as we enter a virtual age, and equally important are the skills and knowledge to handle increasingly sophisticated technologies.

So, what digital leadership skills are needed for the future workplace? Knowledge of digital and data literacy is, of course, essential- the constant cycle of digital innovation means that leaders and employees alike must adopt continuous learning and upskilling to remain competitive. Business leaders who understand the application of technologies in the workplace will create new drivers for success, including streamlining operational systems, mindful connection of their employees and improved agility in the workplace. But what's even more crucial are human-centric skills. It is the soft skills such as communication, resilience, emotional intelligence, and entrepreneurial thinking that are pivotal in our new digital world.

Despite the demand for future skillsets, we're currently facing the biggest skills shortage of our lifetime. Prior to the pandemic, the World Economic Forum set an ambitious target to upskill one billion people by 2030. This was initiated to tackle the 75 million jobs expected to be displaced by automation and artificial intelligence by 2022. Since COVID-19, the window of opportunity to reskill has become shorter in the newly constrained labor market- availability of key skills remains one of the top five threats affecting the growth prospects for CEOs in the Middle East, according to PwC's 24th Middle East CEO Survey.

In many organizations and economies, the pandemic has highlighted the discrepancy between the skills people have, and those needed for jobs in the digital world. Part of our drive at PwC's Academy Middle East in leading the upskilling revolution in the region is to facilitate lasting change. We deliver innovative and practical training, that includes both digital and soft skills components for individuals and organizations across industries to create a truly future-ready workforce in the Middle East.

Leadership has always required a specialized set of skills, such as curiosity, empathy, and decisive action– but in today's world, there is an urgent need for a new type of leader. This leader needs to adapt to a hybrid workforce that combines human labor with augmented technology. In this new environment, human-centric skills will be key to developing a balanced, healthy and productive workplace that puts digital wellbeing at its heart. Companies that embrace these future skillsets will drive transformation and cultivate a harmonious relationship with the virtual world.

Related: Hybrid Workplaces: A Win-Win Solution For Businesses And Their Employees In The New Normal