There’s no shortage of tech publications predicting the future of IT. The relentless march of tech innovations has no end in sight, and analyses on what these innovations will do to the workplace range from the mundane and the unlikely to the incredible.
While there are plenty of predictions that can’t be confirmed until the future actually arrives, some things are certain. The current trend toward mobility and telecommuting, for instance, shows no signs of stopping. Constant innovation means businesses need to operate faster and more efficiently, and the current push for diversity is making lasting changes in today’s tech workforces.
These trends are more than predictions—they’re a part of business right now. Here’s how you can help your company adapt.
Equip the mobile workforce
Not long ago, workforces were confined to geographic areas. Businesses had to open new branches if they wanted to reach customers in new regions, and telecommuting was barely on the corporate radar. Now, US businesses are saving up to $44 billion thanks to the nearly four million employees working from home at least half of their workweeks. Meanwhile, comparatively young generations of workers—such as millennials—view telecommuting not as a tacked-on workplace benefit but a normal way to make a living.
As this trend continues, you’ll likely see more companies realizing the value of letting employees work from home at least part-time. Technologies, like videoconferencing apps, will make it easier for people to attend meetings without traveling, while cloud platforms will help employees conduct their work from any device. You can prepare for what’s ahead by expanding and securing your company’s network, so it’s suitable for mobile workers. At a minimum, employees working from home—or anywhere else in the world—need secure access to your company’s network and the tools used to complete their work, such as cloud applications or company-specific software.
It’s also essential to establish guidelines for mobile workers that cover home computer configurations, home network usage, mobile printing guidelines, and how people should respond if their work computers get stolen.
Keep up with the pace of work
Any coverage of the future of IT is incomplete without a discussion of the level of efficiency needed in the modern workplace. Instant connectivity and real-time information mean workers are always on—and they expect IT to be always on, too. IT professionals need to minimize downtime and give workers the resources they need to prevent delays, which means optimizing your systems so downtime is less likely to occur.
Statistics indicate the costs of unplanned outages can reach an average of $260,000 per hour. Aside from the financial expense, people often lose data during downtime, which hampers their productivity and may lead to stressful consequences. Periodic system audits make downtime less likely. IT teams also need disaster recovery plans in place to minimize adverse effects in the event downtime does occur. Preparedness is a crucial aspect of optimizing your business for a fast-moving future.
Besides minimizing downtime, there are a lot of small steps IT can take to make a big difference in how efficiently employees can work. For example, you can evaluate workplace-ready software that lets people collaborate with each other, track the time they spend working, manage projects, and more. These tools help employees get more done in their day and coordinate better with teammates when collaborating on projects.
Sometimes, old hardware, like a legacy printer, is the cause of workplace delays. For such scenarios, teaming up with a managed print services (MPS) vendor may be the answer. MPS partners can use their expertise to help your business scale up to meet demand and provide predictive analytics capabilities. They can also help you discover any weak points existing in your print environment and implement solutions for more efficient and smarter paper and digital workflows.
Prioritize workplace equality
Gender inequality in the workplace can present itself in numerous ways, from a lack of career advancement opportunities to uncomfortable office interactions and unequal pay or benefits. It’s not news that tech jobs, including IT jobs, aren’t doing too well on this front—there’s been a decline in women working in tech roles for decades.
Fortunately, many companies are trying hard to change that. Tech leaders are changing the language used in job ads to make it more gender-neutral, offering better maternity benefits, and “blinding” people’s resumes so individuals reviewing candidates don’t see genders or names. With all these initiatives happening alongside a broader cultural push for diversity, you can expect workplaces of the future to be substantially more diverse than those of the past. Hiring managers realize they can no longer ignore diversity or support efforts that don’t take equality into account.
There are practical ways to fix the diversity problem you can take to heart. These strategies include using metrics to determine the most glaring diversity shortcomings and tracking the effectiveness of programs intended to improve matters. You could even connect diversity milestones to promotions for those in charge of hiring. Whatever strategy you end up using, one thing is clear: The future of IT belongs to a diverse workforce.
Head for the bright future of IT
Workplaces today are scrambling to adapt to the changes brought by the future of IT. However, by enabling a mobile workforce and taking steps to speed up operations, you can avoid scrambling and, instead, enter the future with confidence.
Additionally, now that people recognize the importance of workplace equality, you can take steps to build a workplace featuring people of varied backgrounds and opinions. The wide range of perspectives and abilities brought by increased diversity will help your company stay equipped to excel in the future’s demanding marketplace.
By being mindful of these trends and strategies, you’ll prepare your IT team to thrive in the future of IT and overcome any obstacles on the horizon.