The coronavirus pandemic that swept the planet last year has rapidly changed the labour market. It has dramatically impacted some areas: shutting down businesses, reducing the numbers of hired workers, lacking profits. In contrast, the IT industry managed to hold its ground, showing flexibility and democracy. However, the industry has undergone certain structural changes as well. Sergey Kartashov (Sergejs Kartasovs), CEO of the IT asset management company Generation Partners, explained how the IT market had changed during the pandemic, under what circumstances it “overheats” and why remote working is not always a good option for an employee.
My home is my office
Working away from the office is not a new phenomenon. But until 2020, this was generally the practice of freelancers and outsourcers while traditional office workers on the payroll considered it rather as a pleasant privilege. Covid has changed everything. All over the world, hired workers have massively shifted to working from home. Recently, US business owners have called their employees to “return” to their offices, and it caused protests and defiance. More than 40% of American IT workers are planning to stay away from their offices and keep on working remotely.
The states’ borders have become a formality, a programmer can be a link in a notional Canadian company, without leaving his apartment in Kyiv or relaxing by the ocean at a resort of Southeast Asia. Sergey Kartashov notes that for an employer, the remote mode of working has provided a number of substantial advantages.
“Some firms even closed their offices so as not to waste money on renting premises. Others, by transferring their employees to remote working, save in a different way: they reduce non-technical specialties that are less required in the new conditions—office managers, assistants, secretaries, cleaners, quartermasters, and others. Only those employees remain who directly create added value for the owner—programmers, salespersons, testers, HR, and so on. Also, the border closure and severe quarantine restrictions have significantly reduced the number of events, business trips, conferences, training courses, and seminars—all the events that previously required large sums of money for their organization. On the one hand, expenses have decreased, but on the other hand, it has become more difficult to maintain a corporate culture,” the CEO of Generation Partners explains the employers’ logic.
Taking into account all the positive aspects of remote working, Sergey Kartashov does not deny the difficulties associated with it. Loosely defined boundaries of the working day, excess stress, reduced productivity, and rapid burnout are among them.
“Some IT specialists have noted at interviews that a hybrid working week—a few days from home, a few days from the office—is the most acceptable formula for them. Everything here has a case-by-case basis. Nevertheless, remote working is already firmly entrenched in our new reality and will remain in it, apparently, for a long time,” the expert believes.
When demand is higher than supply
The spring-summer 2020 global lockdown defined the point of no return in another one aspect. Many commercial sectors rearranged themselves to online. For instance, closed cafes and catering establishments conditioned a great number of people to order meals every day with one click. Online stores, delivery services, covid test registration in medical centers, administrative services, banks—it seems that almost everything in this world has switched to online mode. For all this to function smoothly, software, mobile applications, websites, landing pages, cybersecurity, cloud platforms, and more are needed. The IT industry undertakes these tasks.
Accordingly, in 2021, the demand for a high-tech product has grown, and the number of vacancies on specialized job search resources has increased tenfold. Sergey Kartashov (Sergejs Kartasovs) states that a unique situation has arisen in some positions in IT: there are more vacancies than applicants. Companies are ready to hire budding IT specialists, sometimes even without experience. Previously, there was no such great change in this sphere. To attract specialists to the company, business owners artificially raise salaries, increasing the distance between IT and other professions.
The above-mentioned factors lead to the so-called “overheating economy” of the information technology market. It is difficult to predict how this plays out.
Another significant marker of the new reality in the IT market is the massive outflow of specialists. The employees move from small firms to large international companies, as they offer better working conditions, working on large and interesting projects, higher incomes, and social guarantees.
If the employees are interested in changing jobs, any poorly organized change in the company or working process can lead to a real wave of layoffs. Perhaps in the near future, this will force employers to pay more attention to personnel policy and the specificities of the internal corporate culture—up to changing the company’s philosophy and revising the corporate values.