How remote working has shaken up the IT sector
Even before the national lockdowns of 2020, the IT sector’s contribution to business could never be understated. Many businesses rely on IT infrastructure to remain organised, secure and, of course, efficient.
The importance of the IT sector has come into its own even more since the spread of COVID-19. Restrictions placed on workers have shaken up our working patterns and our reliance on IT experts.
With those who were based in office spaces at the beginning of 2020 now working almost exclusively from home, IT professionals now face more pressure in supporting their clients and co-workers. Their main roles have gone from fixing everyday technological issues to ensuring everyone can work as efficiently online as they had before the pandemic.
From providing remote workers with the right equipment to transferring employees onto cloud-based servers, IT professionals must adapt to remain efficient in ways that could potentially become the new norm going forward.
Hardware in short supply
Since the first UK lockdown in March 2020, almost half of British professionals have worked from home – some for at least part of the year and others for its entirety. IT departments and agencies have faced the difficulties of getting office equipment out to employees working from home so organisations can continue working as smoothly as possible.
For some, this could be a simple task of getting items from A to B, whether via post or, for those who can, delivering items by hand directly to employees’ doors. For other IT professionals, it could involve overseeing the purchase of new equipment, which is an unwanted expense during an uncertain period.
Reliance on servers has also hugely increased this past year, and suppliers have caught on. Some server parts have seen an increase in price from 5% to 20%.
Skills in demand
No one could have foreseen just how long the pandemic would affect our working lives.
For many IT experts, whether internally for their own organisation or consulting for others, full adherence to working from home policy was a priority. Long hours, increased running costs and more than a little stress was part and parcel of the role last year.
A year on, the constant demands on IT experts that began in March 2019 have cooled off somewhat. However, managing company cloud services and remaining connected to clients while working completely online remains an exhaustive task for those overseeing working from home.
While it’s been a gruelling task, the good news is there are now more opportunities for remote working IT professionals. More developers in particular were needed across the nation, as more organisations looked to embrace in-house systems and apps to keep their business working.
Thanks to the various vaccines now being rolled out across the nation, the pandemic won’t go on forever. However, something that is likely to stay is the number of people working from home.
The past year has proven to many organisations that their employees can work efficiently from their at-home desks. In fact, of those currently working remotely, a huge 72% would prefer a hybrid of remote and office working going forward when it is safe to do so. This could create opportunities for IT workers as the new ways of working potentially become more permanent.
Acceleration of companies’ digital transformation
Historically, employers have been cautious on their flexibility around working from home, with concerns around productivity and engagement. In 2016, only 8% of professionals based in Germany worked from home, despite 42% of respondents having a job that allowed for it. Since the pandemic swept the continent, 61% of workers were home-based.
Before the pandemic, some companies had been making gradual steps to building a digital infrastructure so employees could efficiently work from home for at least part of the working week. For some organisations, the idea was to move headquarters to a smaller building that saves the company money. For others, it was for the wellbeing of the employees and to reduce the company’s carbon footprint by reducing the number of people travelling into work every day.
However, the first sudden UK lockdown in March 2020, caused these forward-thinking companies to accelerate their long-term plans to keep the business going remotely.
These changes have, of course, put IT workers under a lot of pressure. Whether in-house or an external provider, support staff now have a limited number of resources they would usually utilise to provide their clients with the services they have paid for. While some positions can continue their role with a simple laptop, companies now toned to find new ways and make more investments to properly deliver their services.
Safeguarding your work as an IT professional
All these company and client-wide pressures the IT sector is now under could have a negative result. With added stress, an experienced IT contractor or consultant could potentially make a mistake they most probably wouldn’t have done under normal circumstances.
Now the world relies so heavily on IT professionals to keep on top of an ever-changing technology-driven way of living and working, it’s more important than ever for professionals to protect themselves.
On the chance that you make a mistake while carrying out your duties, you should ensure you are appropriately covered with the right level of insurance. If you are an IT consultant or IT contractor, find out which level of cover best applies to you and protect yourself against the unexpected.
COVID-19 has certainly re-shaped all our lives, including how the IT sector functions on a daily basis. To find out more about how you can protect yourself as a professional in these unprecedented times, visit our blog on the Markel website.
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