Technology is evolving rapidly, and so is the field of IT. Given the last couple years of pandemic upheaval, today’s slippery job market, and big advancements in AI, workplaces are changing. IT workers are perhaps the most ready and eager group to meet this change, tending to be forward-thinking and adoptive of new innovations and processes. How will tomorrow’s IT workers be different from those of the past? They’ll be a salient reflection of the larger societal whole: widely connected, dynamic, and increasingly teamed up with artificial intelligence.
Remote and Geographically Dispersed
This one’s no surprise—the pandemic got all sorts of people working remotely, and many of them have decided to stay that way or opted for a hybrid model going forward. The world is becoming smaller, and it will be more and more common to work with people who live in other places. Many organizations, like ours, are fully remote and consider video calls and chat messages a completely normal way of work. For these kinds of companies, a meeting hub like Microsoft Teams is essential and will continue to fine-tune and become more immersive and fluid. While remote work may need more creativity in fostering social interaction between employees, it has the benefit of bringing in workers from a much greater pool of talent with unique geographical or cultural perspectives.
Flexible and Dynamic
With technologies changing so rapidly and new tools always being introduced, those working in IT have a lot to keep up with. Companies are realizing it’s not sustainable to just keep hiring new employees who have the latest skills or know the latest tools—it’s worth investing in training for existing employees to learn these new areas themselves. Likewise, employees will do best when they are willing to be flexible about tasks and processes that they work on, and when they embrace continual learning and change. Nearly 75% of workers now believe they need to update their skills at least every six months, and those who build depth in multiple areas will be versatile and valuable.
In Collaboration with Artificial Intelligence
AI’s capabilities have been snowballing, and artificial intelligence will only continue to become more integrated into our tools and workspaces. The recent open source release of ChatGPT is likely to revolutionize work across many industries. Its ability to help with coding is one major time-saving boost, although it has limitations and needs a developer to break down steps for it. This powerful tool can make an excellent assistant, though, and tomorrow’s IT workers will enjoy greatly increased productivity when working with it. More broadly speaking, employees of tomorrow are likely to become quite familiar with AI assistants and collaboration with such fast and informed tools.
This means that they will spend more of their time working on projects that require creativity, innovation, and outside-the-box thinking. And AI—through both its time-saving capabilities and the problems that can come along with it—should get humans thinking more about ethics and big-picture goals. How do we really want to impact the world, and how can we do it responsibly? As technology leaders, those in the field of IT need to keep these big questions in mind as they move into an AI-integrated future.
Will Tomorrow’s IT Workers be More Diverse?
The calls for racial justice and equality in 2020 led to a push for more diversity, equity and inclusion across industries. Many workplaces have created DEI programs & initiatives, and incorporated these issues into their hiring. The IT field is one place where there’s still a lot of room for improvement in this regard. Its workers are overwhelmingly white and male, with a narrow majority of tech CEOs believing that diversity & inclusion initiatives will not work.
One thing that leaders can be mindful of is retention and training for growth in minority staff that they already have. Education, support from mentors, and scholarships can help entry-level workers who might not have taken a path in technology otherwise. And providing family-friendly policies can make it more feasible for mothers to work as well. These and other strategies can cast a wider net to fill thousands of empty technology positions with a diverse and balanced workforce.
Ideally, tomorrow’s IT workers will be flexible, resilient, curious and innovative, coming from diverse places and perspectives to offer unique insights. They’ll be a team who harnesses increasingly intelligent tools without being foolish with them, providing smart leadership and strong security in a path of all-new terrain. But no future is guaranteed, especially now—so it’s up to us to help shape this one.