I overheard a conversation which began with “When life returns to normal…” and I wondered, why? Rolling back time, returning to the good ol’ days, would we forget the amazing breakthroughs we made? The COVID-19 crisis changed our way of thinking, forcing us to focus on survival and solutions. Instead of falling prey to mass hysteria, normal people, not superheroes are stepping up, taking chances and creating order out of chaos.
The pandemic removed obstacles that long shackled companies to the traditional way of doing business. In the past, because of the fear of change, technological advances outpace business adoption. However, in the past few months, businesses changed rapidly (without fearing the consequences) and the results have been overwhelmingly positive. Shelter in place policies created vibrant virtual communities with measurable goals that focused on results. Many companies went virtual in days without missing a deliverable or disappointing a client. The future of technology is exciting, with increased demand for innovation and managers who are willing to change.
This may be the golden age for technology!
Tech jobs are on a high growth trajectory. In 2019, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that by 2020 we would see a 12% growth in high-paying and growth-potential tech jobs. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the demand for technology jobs is increasing at a faster rate than in 2019. This suggests businesses are ready, willing, and able to utilize technology, collaboration, automation and AI.
The technology push is an indication of improved results.
A virtual workforce increases the pool of available talent and fuels the gig economy. This is because businesses can hire on a per-project basis, while employees maintain flexibility making technology a cottage industry. Some companies are discussing adopting a four-day workweek because employees working from home are working longer hours and producing results.
Inclusion and community
In rewriting the rules of engagement to avoid isolation, companies created vibrant virtual communities. Some teams have virtual coffee-breaks, happy hours, and scheduled meditation or exercise sessions. They are using collaboration tools to effectively generate ideas. Previously ideation was associated with random conversations by the watercooler. This led to cliques, perceived exclusion, and gender bias. In a virtual workforce, collaboration can become more inclusive and purposeful.
Technology becomes an equalizer, measuring results without consideration to age, gender, or ethnicity
The pandemic accelerated technology time to market. This is especially visible in telehealth services and virtual doctor visits. Social distancing created a need for virtual reality to provide information-on-demand, and robotics/drones to handle deliveries. Technologists who can think outside-of-the-box will be inventing applications to keep businesses viable.
How will technology jobs of the future change?
- Remain virtual. Since companies have invested in the infrastructure, security, and collaboration tools and are delivering results. Virtual is here to stay!
- Differentiated career paths between managers and technologists. Professionals who enjoy independent work have demonstrated their abilities to produce results. And they may not be the same workers who prefer to manage.
- Growth of the “new collar” technical jobslike cloud computing and cybersecurity allows businesses to benefit from employees with required skillsets and where degrees may not be necessary.
- Focus on fitting existing technology to business needs. While occupations change slowly, tasks can be reorganized rapidly. Technologists can rapidly redesign business processes to improve client interactions and workflow.
- Make room for the bots to take on repetitive tasks that previously required processing of information.
In addition to the change in jobs, we are beginning to see small shifts in the workforce, with news media changing the perception of technology.
Society has become hooked on analytics
People who previously had little appetite for math, consume projections, understand the curve, and spout numbers which have become the staple of the news.
Scientists and researchers are making headlines
…creating an image of technologists who are not geeks and nerds working in the background; they are men and women of all backgrounds fighting together to find a cure. Our perception of who can be a technologist is changing and becoming more inclusive.
In just a few months technology transformed businesses by optimizing operations and building ways to connect virtually. Businesses are recognizing the upside of remote work – performance is increasing, creating happy clients and staff. Businesses will plan their road to recovery powered by technology. As people reenter the workforce, we may see an increase in entrepreneurship, gig workers and technologists.
But no matter what happens next, the digital mindset will persist. Welcome to the NEW AGE of technology!