Business managers continue to feel the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in their personal and professional lives, with the shift to remote work ranking among the most significant. With many businesses preparing to allow some form of work-from-home indefinitely, expect continuing changes in the skills employers look for in managers.

Traditional business skills remain important to qualify for the best jobs in management. But in the post-COVID environment, managers will need to adapt these skills to oversee day-to-day tasks remotely, provide leadership, and meet project deadlines. Given the recent string of announcements by businesses on remote work, developing these skills is critical.

Businesses Pivot to Remote Work

Many major companies have announced a commitment to remote work from now on. Google extended its work-at-home policy through September 2021. The search engine giant also supports remote work for some indefinitely, including a plan allowing some employees to work from home half the week, according to Business Insider.

Microsoft has offered employees the chance to work less than 50% of the time from home without the need for manager approval. Other companies extending work-from-home policies include American Express, Uber, Airbnb, Apple, and Indeed.

In one noteworthy decision, retailer REI put its new, unused eight-acre corporate campus up for sale in Bellevue, Washington. REI’s CEO told Business Insider that the company plans to “lean into remote working as an engrained, supported, and normalized model.”

Skills Employers Look for Post-COVID-19

The business landscape has changed for managers and employees alike. While the dangers of the coronavirus first made remote work necessary, many companies found that productivity did not lag – and in some cases, improved – with remote work. And the potential cost savings of not needing a large corporate office suddenly came into view as well.

However, business success for companies in a post-COVID-19 environment depends on employees developing specific skills. The skills employers look for in managers include the following, according to experts interviewed by Forbes, as well as information from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

  • Time management. Working from home requires discipline and self-motivation. Managers will need to merge tech with leadership in finding the best ways to keep employees on schedule.
  • Communication. This is especially important when communication is done 100% through digital channels. Communicating via text or Slack messages is different than communicating face-to-face.
  • Leadership. Managers need to find ways to properly motivate and lead employees, including openness, empathy, and resilience.
  • Collaboration. It takes extra effort to remain in contact with peers and collaborate in meaningful ways when working remotely.
  • Some tech knowledge. Working knowledge of what is possible with current technology is necessary, especially tech platforms to manage workflow, project collaboration, and effective communication.
  • Problem-solving. As always, those with critical thinking and problem-solving skills will excel. It’s essential in a post-COVID-19 environment. Forbes warns of a tendency for “VUCA” situations arising in remote work. An acronym standing for volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous.

Those who aspire to management positions can develop these skills in an online Master of Science in Management program. The program’s design helps professionals develop the tools needed to manage remote workers and excel in their own tasks and projects.

What Students Learn in an MS in Management Program

The online MS in Management degree program from Merrimack College addresses the skills managers and employees need to go forward. The program’s online nature gives professionals firsthand knowledge on how best to lead, collaborate, and communicate in a remote working environment.

In addition to learning remote work skills, students can also learn business skills related to specific concentrations in critical business areas.

Organizational Leadership

Students learn a management approach that benefits individual employees as well as the organization. Elements of leadership are covered, including ethics, motivation, creativity, vision, teamwork, managing teams, leading organizations through change, and understanding and managing stakeholders.

Business Analytics

Business analytics are key to developing data-driven strategies. Students learn to extract useful and actionable information from data and synthesize those insights with related theoretical and experiential knowledge.

Marketing Management

Students develop an understanding of digital and social media marketing, marketing analytics and strategy, and how marketing contributes to management practices.

Quantitative & Digital Finance

Students develop an understanding of the language of finance and business performance, including quant and factor investing, corporate finance, and other innovative finance industry trends.

Strategic Human Resource Management

Students examine the critical role of human capital in the achievement of an organization’s strategic objectives. Topics covered include negotiations, conflict resolution, organizational performance, and analytics to make informed decisions in a diverse workplace.

Students can concentrate in one of these areas as they also develop the skills necessary to succeed in an online environment. With remote work becoming the “new normal” at many companies, knowledge proves critical for future success.