The COVID-19 pandemic has presented new challenges for IT professionals, from managing technology rollouts remotely to onboarding employees from home. As the pandemic continues, many companies are redefining their work from home policies for the long haul. Recently, Twitter declared its employees can work from home forever and Mark Zuckerberg predicted that Facebook’s employees will be 50% remote by 2030.
With technology serving as an essential infrastructure for connecting employees from their homes to the workplace, organizations are looking to their IT department for guidance on optimizing their workflows through technology. And in many cases, that means IT teams need to upskill to meet the current and future demands of the workforce.
What does this mean for IT?
IT professionals must be ready to play a larger centralized role in their organization. In addition to establishing the infrastructure required for an efficient and effective remote workforce, IT must also learn how to adapt that infrastructure to the specific needs for their organization’s success. In a matter of weeks, IT has shifted from functioning primarily as technology experts to technology process experts who are vital to their company’s progress in the COVID-19 economy.
Here’s how you can prepare for the evolution of IT’s role in the new workplace and improve as an individual professional in the process.
1. Understand your company’s operations
To better assist your organization as remote work continues, take the initiative to learn more about your company — both its industry and the key focus areas of specific departments. Given the more centralized role of IT in a fully remote environment, this knowledge is critical.
Additionally, you need to get acquainted with your company’s line of business (LoB) leaders to understand their day-to-day duties. Schedule a discussion with these leaders to ask how technology can elevate their departments and identify their pain points to help inform your recommendations.
It’s also key to dissect each department’s workflow so you can understand where technology could fill any potential gaps, whether it’s through robotic process automation (RPA), process mapping, or a different tool. By taking the initiative, you can equip your LoB leaders with technology that solves their specific problems and improve your organization’s business processes by making them more beneficial for each LoB.
2. Establish value
Once you’ve gained a deeper knowledge of your company’s frontline business needs, it’s important to establish how IT contributes to your organization’s long-term plans and goals.
Develop a clear line of communication with your executive leadership. Your C-suite has to understand how their organization’s technology works, why it’s important, and why it’s successful — both at home and in the office. With greater insight into your company’s operations, you can clearly articulate the value IT brings to the table.
For example, if you helped your sales and legal teams automate the contracting process from paper to digital in response to the pandemic, demonstrate how the digitized process saved time, cut costs, and helped your organization close more deals. Gathering anecdotal evidence like employee testimonials also establishes value. If a video conferencing tool improved remote meetings and helped boost team morale, document the employee feedback to show to your C-suite.
3. Use downtime to improve
In addition to helping your company operate at its best, you can improve as an IT professional while you work from home.
With the downtime you have during your workday, incorporate skill learning into your walk or podcast break. Take the extra time to improve on a skill you don’t normally pay attention to. If you’re a developer, learn more about machine learning technology and how it can improve your company’s workflow. As an administrator, study up on how you can more efficiently provide security assistance to employees in a remote work environment.
Improving your skillset will also make you more marketable for the future job market. While job titles may not change much as a result of the pandemic, skill requirements will dramatically shift to account for remote work capabilities.
Your ability to operate remotely as an IT professional in the months ahead is critical to your company’s success. Build the skills to function as an effective asset in a remote environment, including the soft skills of connecting with other employees to better understand the company’s operations and its future goals. The next wave of savvy IT professionals will be able to speak to these needs.
Working from home has forced IT professionals to push the limits on their capabilities, but it has also provided a silver lining for self-improvement. The new age of IT has arrived and you must be ready to live up to the challenge — both at home and in the office.
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