More Americans than ever before are working from home, and it’s having a drastic impact on the American workplace. Of course, this means that fewer people are showing up to the office every day – and some businesses have adopted a “fully remote” model where there is no central office. So how are traditionally in-person roles still functioning in a business that isn’t fully remote?
Take, for example, the IT department. Though IT is a broad term that covers many possible roles, a good chunk of their time is spent maintaining tech equipment that’s used and relied on by other people within the office. How are their roles changing now that there are fewer people (and fewer pieces of onsite equipment) to manage?
Remote Desktop Access
First, there’s the emergence of secure remote desktop support apps, which allow IT workers to remotely view what’s happening on their counterpart’s screens. If a remote worker is experiencing an issue with a device or a software platform, there aren’t many options for an IT worker to help; those working remotely could be miles away, and phone calls or chats may not fully articulate the problem they’re experiencing.
Remote support solutions allow IT professionals to take control of systems from a distance, testing to understand root causes of issues, administering fixes, and even performing preventative maintenance to get ahead of potential issues down the line.
Remote Gigs and IT Service Providers
IT workers are no exception to the trend of increased remote work, either; more “remote” IT jobs are opening up, and professionals (especially millennials) are responding favorably. Obviously, there are some limitations to this; remote IT workers rarely work directly with building and maintaining physical servers (and similar equipment). Instead, remote IT positions focus on providing knowledge and support from a distance.
We’re also seeing the rise of firms that provide IT services as a field of specialty. These range from IT “agencies,” which have extensive networks of professionals to help you with your needs, to software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers that offer things like remote servers and support staff to help you maintain it.
The Increased Need for Innovation
With the increased reliance on virtual tech and remote assistance, competition is heating up in the IT world. Open positions vary wildly, and there are hundreds, if not thousands of firms competing for corporate attention. Even individual IT departments have to do more to prove themselves valuable. All this leads to an increased demand for innovation, whether that amounts to building and maintaining new kinds of tech, or simply approaching the job in new ways.
Network and Product Complexity
Computer networks and device complexity are poised to skyrocket in the next few years. Already, more than 90 percent of companies have started adopting bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies in response to the ubiquity of mobile devices. There are also somewhere between 6 and 17 billion internet-connected devices that qualify as part of the network of the internet-of-things (IoT).
Thanks to IoT and universally available internet, our world of connections and devices have become dizzyingly complex. This means IT professionals have to work harder to ensure all systems are working compatibility with one another, and that all new technological acquisitions will be beneficial to the company.
Heightened Security Standards
On top of coordination and troubleshooting efforts, all those new devices and network connections are opening the door to far more security threats. Each device will have its own holes and vulnerabilities that need patching. Each person will have their own set of passwords to set, change, and manage. Every personal device added to the company’s network is a potential breach, and every company device on an unsecured network is another potential issue.
These heightened security standards are forcing IT professionals to rethink many of their previous security strategies, and are making the environment more favorable to firms and individuals that specialize in security.
What Is the Future of IT?
Though IT is undergoing a significant role change in American workplaces, the department is here to stay. As our technology grows more advanced and more complex, and people increasingly work from a distance, development is going to favor IT professionals with experience providing remote support, working in service-based business models, and who have higher attention toward preserving security.
If you’re thinking about entering the IT field, make sure to diversify your experiences, and prepare for a potentially remote career. You’ll need to stay on your toes in response to new and emerging tech, so never stop learning.