Giving new meaning to the word tumultuous, the year 2020 radically shifted the way people live and work. Yet despite COVID-19’s impact, one thing remained constant: The importance of building and maintaining strong relationships.

A Workforce Transformed

The global pandemic blurred the lines between home and work—with some surprising results. Across industries, companies that resisted flexible work structures in the past suddenly found that employees could be as productive (or more) while working remotely. As for employees? Many were surprised at just how much they missed in-person socializing and collaborating with their colleagues.

To learn more about COVID-19’s impact on workers, ManpowerGroup conducted a survey of 8,000 workers in eight different countries (download the Future for Workers study here). Highlights include:

  • 43% of those surveyed agree that the crisis marks the end of full-time work in the office
  • Eight out of 10 workers want more remote work to better balance family life
  • Workers everywhere want more virtual learning opportunities

The study also notes that “there is rising demand for human or power skills—in times of rapid transformation and uncertainty these so-called soft skills are more important than ever in workers and in leaders.”

Key among those critical skills? Relationship Building.

(The importance of relationship building in business is nothing new, of course. In 1918, the Carnegie Foundation published A Study of Engineering Education by Charles Riborg Mann which concluded that soft skills were much more important to career success than hard skills. Read more in this blog post.)

Demand for Online Learning

It is hard to predict exactly what things will look like post-pandemic. But already, COVID-19’s impact is evident at companies that are creating new positions with titles like “Head of Remote Work,” “Remote Work Director,” and “Director of Home Working.” Among their key job responsibilities? Providing personal and professional development opportunities for hundreds of thousands of employees who will never go back to a “normal” 9-to-5 workday.

The good news is that it can be done—the pandemic proved to employers that “soft skills,” like relationship building, can be learned, improved, and measured online. Moreover, transparency and accountability go up when learning goes online.

We have seen it firsthand in our small-group Cohort Coaching Program and in our online learning courses focused on relationship building. Participants come with an open mindset, ready to learn and eager to develop the professional skills that will keep them employable and help them stay ahead in an uncertain world.

The bottom line? Online or offline, strong relationships are key to personal and professional success. The companies that invest in relationship building skills development for their workforce will be those that are most attractive to high performers—and the most prepared to thrive in the “next normal.”


The Galvanizing Group offers a systematic and measurable approach to business relationship building taught through innovative coaching, training, and online learning programs. For more information, please contact