The last six months have profoundly shifted how and where we work– and these changes are having a signficant impact on IT teams.Some companies plan to remain fully remote through the end of the year, or even longer. Other companies are experimenting with hybrid models, rotating teams depending on days of the week, or giving employees the choice between at-home and in-office work. These different scenarios create technical challenges, ranging from network infrastructure maintenance to KPI reporting issues.
Hiring has also changed, and while some companies hit pause on hiringearlier this year, the need for excellent IT professionals continues. Identifying organizational talent gaps now and assessing hiring options – including contract placements – will give your company a key hiring advantage.
From assessing security threats to preparing a smart hiring strategy,here’s where to start:
1. Cybersecurity and Network Infrastructure: Protecting Your Business for the Long Haul
With everyone in one location, network infrastructure is relatively straightforward. Your centralized IT team can monitor network activity and quickly pop over to an employee’s desk should any security issues arise. In a remote work environment, however, cybersecurity protection becomes fractured.
The first step to hardening your security is identifying and eliminating your single point of failure (SPOF). This is hardware or software that, if it becomes unusable or stops working, could potentially break down the entire system.This could be a router, software that runs on the cloud, or a VoIP service for messaging with colleagues. If those fail, do you have a backup? Is there another router you can use for redundancy or alternative messaging options so employees can still communicate? If not, your security could be compromised.
Technology isn’t the only potential SPOF – humans are also a risk. Grant permissions on an as-needed basis, and remove privileges promptly if an employee leaves or their access requirements change. If one person is responsible for several systems, consider shifting control so everything doesn’t fall on their shoulders.
2. Data Analytics: Benchmarking Performance in a Remote Work World
Data analytics is always an important tool, especially during times of uncertainty. By having strong data – and using it properly – you’ll be ahead of the curve. Set up dashboards and reports to understand productivity measurements. Consider the challenge you’re trying to solve, set a goal, and develop key performance indicators (KPIs), so you know what success looks like.
At Lucas Group, we’ve shifted our KPIs to reflect remote work realities. For example, rather than targeting a certain number of in-person meetings, we focus on virtual points of contact, like a video conference. By adjustingperformance metrics to reflect our current business climate, your team will be better able to identify team members who need additional support before a key milestoneis missed, keeping everyone on track for success.
3. Mission-Critical Positions and High-Priority Hires:Sourcing Top Contract Talent
While some organizations have reduced their human capital costs, as the economy stabilizes, the competition to hire top IT talent will intensify. Next year is predicted to be the biggest year in contract staffing history. Many companies are more comfortable hiring IT talent on a short-term or project basis, rather than jumping head-first into a permanent hire. Lay the groundwork now to land the most sought-after contractor hires.
Start by considering your team’s current bench strength: are there essential skills or experience sets missing? In addition to ensuring all mission-critical roles are filled, keep these high-priority positions in mind:
IT procurement specialists. Organizations may havereduced employee counts, but the number of software seats often remains unchanged. Having a procurement specialist who can re–negotiate contracts or find acceptable replacements could save your company tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in unneeded software expenses.
Project managers. If your team halted PM hiring when projects were paused, keep hiring lead time in mind as you prepare to scale up project efforts. Hiring before you exceed current PM capacity ensures your new hire will be fully trained and ready to help your team scale up, rather than playing catch up.
Business analysts. Mid-career professionals with a strong background in security, hardware and data analytics will continue to be in high demand. Consider bringing stakeholders together now to refine your “must-have” and “nice-to-have” skills and experience requirements. This way, your organization will be ready to hit “go” on the job search when the time is right, making it easier to bring the right contract talent on board.
If your company has been working remotely, what have been the biggest IT challenges your team has faced, and how have you addressed them? I invite you to share your experience in the comments below.