The IT industry is full of challenges and opportunities, which is what makes it an interesting industry to work in! At the start of the pandemic, IT departments were presented with lots of challenges in getting hardware, systems & software to allow people to work from home. As the restrictions start to ease, individual companies are now making the decisions about how their employees will work in the future.
Though this is great for employees, it presents some complications for IT Managers, who now have to provide a robust & secure solution that works for those working permanently in the office, those working permanently from home & those choosing a hybrid way of working.
To get ahead of the problem, we have identified a number of things we believe you need to consider:
Top challenges to consider when bringing employees back to work
More than just the IT department, it is expected that most employees will struggle with transitioning back into the workplace, after such a long period of staying home and working remotely.
Managing a remote workforce
From the office to a home office, managing a remote workforce is tough. Even more so, if the IT department is also working from home!
There are many different opinions, but it is recognised that collaboration, help and guidance is significantly reduced in a workforce that permanently works remotely. There is also anecdotal evidence of daily productivity being lower – not because employees are slacking, but rather the volume of hours spent attending online meetings/calls for discussions that would usually be had in quick chat or simply calling across the office floor. Hence the reason that historically remote working was generally suitable for those working independently of a team or on projects.
Even if you have had remote workers before, you will need to ensure that you have solutions which will work for more people and more easily. And if you haven’t you will need to come up with a robust solution to address a permanent remote workforce – things to consider include VPN or browser based systems; enabling secure access to confidential data; the strength of the wifi at home; how phone calls can be answered/made; even how your employee is disposing of their notepaper, which may contain GDPR protected data, at the end of each day
Although more employees might prefer to stay at home, IT departments will be required to provide an equivalent solution to working from the office, in a home environment that you can’t control.
Managing a hybrid workforce
Working from home was a challenge that usually permanently office based workers relished. Buy now millions of professionals have adjusted to the office setup and staff surveys show that most people would prefer a 2-3 day in the office in the future.
Responsible businesses are listening to their staff & taking this as an opportunity to introduce hybrid working on a permanent basis – but this means that employees, managers, business leaders & IT departments are going to need to learn how to optimise the logistics of a hybrid setup, where employers are going back and forth between home and the office more than they are used to.
So how will IT professionals navigate the hybrid setup?
The answer is simple and complicated at the same time: employers need to manage and motivate their workforce to produce the same results.
Find out what works for each employee or even ask the group as a whole: what do they want to do? What setup are they comfortable with? Starting here will help you avoid the issues of coming back to work.
Now that your employees are coming back to work, your teams will need to re-learn their working pace, the office environment & even their commute. You will need to make sure you consider the impact of change in the workload you allocate & manage the pace of work to minimise the risk of burning out.
As a leader, your employees will need to be given time to readjust, get a feel of back-to-the-office work, managing the uniqueness of home & office working, before piling on the tasks.
Skill gaps & hiring
There has long been a skill shortage in the UK, with some industries affected more than others, and the effect of the pandemic, alongside Brexit, are yet unknown – though early reports are showing fewer candidates on the market, higher wages and quick turnaround on interview process/job offers, is making recruitment very tricky right now.
And when you do find new employees, the type of working set up will present new challenges to be overcome. New hires might have a difficult time catching up to the skills of long-time employees, to learn systems, and to understand the culture of the business, simply because they aren’t getting enough guidance, face to face, to help them adjust to a new company/working life.
And as an IT department you will not know what broadband or home set up your new employees will have – it is hard to ensure they are ready to go from their first day, if you don’t know what you need to work with. Consider adding these questions to your ‘new starter process’ and making sure your IT teams are given as much notice of new hires as possible.
Leaders need to step up even more as employees come back to the office. Do this by providing facetime for each employee, if possible, and be present when they need help.
Project management issues
Consider how your future projects to grow & develop your business will work moving forward – face to face set-up & hybrid working will present new and different challenges. That, and many projects have been shelved or put on hold, you will need to be clear on what you want, when & how it will be delivered, to make sure you pace the work to create effective project management delivery.
Can your in-house IT department cope
Now you can see IT professionals need to have a wide range of skills, the ability to adapt to change and implement major projects, whilst also ensuring the day to day running of your IT infrastructure, it might be worth asking if your team can handle the work, is effective in all areas needed in the next 12-18 months, or even, with the evidence that IT teams can also work from home, do you even need an in-house team?
Whatever the answer to those questions might be, Excalibur communications are able to offer a range of solutions to deliver the work in a cost-efficient manner?
Trust Excalibur Communications
Excalibur is a leading communication and IT company serving small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs) and schools. It has evolved from a high street mobile phone shop to a company that builds tailor-made technology solutions for clients to improve efficiency, enable growth and increase profitability.
Headquartered in Swindon and is privately owned, we employ over 65 colleagues who are customer-focused. Excalibur was recognised in the London Stock Exchange Group’s ‘1000 Companies to Inspire Britain’ report 2018 and a Sunday Times 100 Best Small Companies to Work For in 2017 and 2018, and 2020.
Are you interested in learning more about how we can provide you with the IT solutions you need? Give us a call to speak more about IT with Excalibur Communications.