IT careers: 4 ways remote work could dramatically reshape your options

Remote work changes your job. Sometimes that’s great, as when you sit with your laptop sipping homemade cold brew on your porch, enjoying the morning breeze. 
Sometimes that’s more challenging, like you when you find yourself deploying a good old-fashioned football stiff-arm to try to keep your rampaging preschooler and attention-seeking Goldendoodle out of the Zoom frame, all while your internet connection labors to transmit data at the speed of 1994 dial-up.
But does greater remote work – which Gartner reports 74 percent of companies are considering after bringing workers out of the office successfully at the height of the COVID-19 crisis – change careers?
The answer is likely yes.

4 ways remote work could change IT careers

Here are four ways IT careers could be very different in an era of dramatically more remote work:

1. Your options could explode

We have lived in a somewhat virtual world for many decades now – the use of the term “remote work” started to skyrocket around 1980 (!) – but practically speaking, most people’s employment choices have either been dictated by or have dictated, where they live. If remote work really becomes a more mainstream option, companies could grab the best available talent for key roles from across the country and even the globe. 
If remote work really becomes a more mainstream option, companies could grab the best available talent for key roles from across the country and even the globe. 
Your career options could be several times multiple of what they are today – and from an organizational perspective, the choice of talent that you have to work with and for you also multiplies tremendously.

2. Your workplace could become more diverse

Bigger talent pools spread over larger geographies will also generate the opportunity to hire a more diverse group of IT leaders and talent. As the world focuses more on racial justice, broadening the hiring lens beyond geographical areas with disproportionately low levels of African-American workers will be a boon to workers and organizations alike. To give a sense of the magnitude of the issue, an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data by the Silicon Valley Institute for Regional Studies estimates the ethnic composition of Silicon Valley includes only 2 percent Black people – less than one-sixth the proportion in the overall United States. 
Ethnic diversity isn’t the only area where gains can be made, though – remove the requirement to travel into an office, and any number of new candidate groups surface, from parents who have to take kids to school to people with physical impediments that make commuting difficult.

3. Your employee experience could become more meaningful

Employee experience in an area of greater remote work is something of a good news/bad news situation. The bad news? Many of the perks of the recent era – think elaborate meals or snacks, massage at your desk, the much-maligned foosball table, etc. – went up in smoke when companies had to send employees home to their own threadbare snack cabinets. The good news: With tech workers still very much in demand to accelerate the digital journey, companies will have to figure out other ways to retain key talent. 
The good news: With tech workers still very much in demand to accelerate the digital journey, companies will have to figure out other ways to retain key talent. 
Without the levers of fancy protein bars or roving nail technicians, organizations are now focusing on employee experience strategies like making a greater connection to company purpose, better employee connection from leadership, and meaningful, well-designed work. In other words – things that matter far more, in the long term.  

4. You could be hired for your “real self” 

One interesting feature of greater remote work that many have already experienced is the remote interview. As much as these interviews can be nerve-wracking, in a more fully-remote environment some of the more challenging elements could become a bit more welcoming. For instance, if both you and your interviewer are openly speaking from your respective homes, in more casual clothes, the interview has a very different tone than if you’re sitting in your home in a suit, frantically trying to conceal any personal items that might come into the frame, and seeking to match the tone of someone in a bland, corporate setting. This could translate, in turn, into a more authentic and genuine hiring process. 
What can you and your IT organization do to prepare now? Let's dig into three to-do items:

How to prepare your IT org now

What can you, and your organization, do to prepare for a new world of more remote work? 
First off, make two lists: what makes you the individual truly unique, and what makes your company truly unique. More employers will be competing for more people, especially after the economy hopefully rebounds a bit, so standing out is more critical than ever, as both a candidate and a hiring manager. Get some help with these lists: Ask co-workers about what makes you different, and outside parties (clients, partner organizations, etc) about what makes your organization different. You’ll be surprised at the common themes that emerge in the answers – and ready to tell a more compelling story.
Second, set some “Big Hairy Audacious Goals,” for your organization or yourself. The dramatic shifts fueled by remote work create a rare opportunity to make step-change progress, be it in your group’s diversity or your own career progression. Not sure where to start? Begin by capturing, with your team, all of the positive changes that have happened during the COVID-19 period. Are there things you should extend or do more of? Things you stopped doing that should not be allowed to re-emerge? It’s a great moment to think big.
The remote work journey will have its stops and starts, but on the whole, there is cause for optimism that more remote work may truly change the workforce for the better.And finally, reflect on what remote work really means – to you and your organization. What excitement is it creating? What anxiety? The blessing and the curse of remote work are that it’s not one-size-fits-all … and the changes everyone experiences will vary as a result. Think through the positives, the negatives, and the unintended consequences (again, positive and negative). Listen to your team and your broader circle of stakeholders – not once but continuously. And be willing to make tweaks in real-time too, as people’s experiences and needs change. 
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