Continuation of "2022 Outlook" by Laura Ubelhor as published in Eye on the i, December 2021.
COVID hit us hard and hit us fast. Business and day to day operations bobbled but we adapted quickly taking into consideration safety. Some organizations, by the nature of the business, require workers to be onsite. We found masks, sanitizer, safe distancing, testing and other precautions quickly implemented to adapt to the unknown. Other organizations were able to have many staff members work remotely. We found quick and busy activity to making space for a home office, setting up remote connections, equipping the office with proper equipment and supplies, making the office space quiet and private from regular household activities, implementing, and ramping up on virtual means of communicating. It is amazing to see how quickly everyone adapted. Focusing on IT some were able to easily shift to working remotely. Throughout the years we have seen trends that have made working remotely desirable. Some organizations have been moving toward and adapting a policy to look upon working remotely as a viable option. In IT it has not been uncommon for the need while on call, after hours support, special projects over holidays and weekends, projects requiring long hours or for other reasons to having staff work remotely. Our organization provides application development and software support for companies across the United States and in other countries. We had an office many staff members would come to daily. We have several team members that are spread out, in other states, not making it feasible for everyone to be onsite. We made the decision to have everyone work remotely early on when COVID hit. Because we had team members already working remotely it was easy to adapt. Our customers are from a variety of industries. It was very interesting to see how each approached remote work. Many were not set up to work remotely and needed to make adjustments and improvements to make up for losing the face-to-face interaction. I was very surprised how many did not already have secure VPN connections in place or not enough capacity with the connections in place and how many were still dependent on paper spit out by office printers. The implementation of paperless electronic solutions definitely increased. Some also struggled with resource having a proper space for working remotely and needed to focus on insuring workers had a space that was quiet and equipped to support optimum productivity while working remotely. Early on I recall many a virtual call with kids being kids, unusually household noises or other background noises, interesting and distracting backgrounds or interesting and distracting appearance and technical issues. Everyone is now quite experienced at working remotely and as a result it has become much more productive with distractions minimized. Some businesses have had their staff come back to work onsite and many are using still heavily using remote options. Working remotely has been embraced and accepted. During the 2008 economy downturn our services changed a lot because companies recognized there was a lot of extra cost to having people onsite. There is cost associated with travel and living expense, a space to house resource and having staff in place to meet and greet and administer having staff on site. It seems through COVID not only for IT consultants but also staff IT resource and other organization resource there is a recognition that being onsite does have extra expense. Allowing remote work also opens organizations up to having resource anywhere that you have an internet connection opening up the pool of available resource to fill positions. Some organizations have and will continue to operate with onsite resource or a hybrid of partial onsite and remote. I am very surprised when surfing to research satellite office spaces to provide a shared location to be used for meetings or workspace allowing resource to work side by side. My prediction is for the upcoming year and future that we will continue to see more resource work remotely.