It’s not the end of the world, it’s just year-end

Turns out that it’s not the end of the world after all. However, it does happen to be the end of the calendar year. For some, it might feel like the same thing. We made it through 2020, and 2021 will be about adjusting to yet another new normal. While this time of year we tend to slow down, hang around with family, and eat excessively, this year, we need to stay alert and engaged. Due to the very weirdness of 2020, there are a few things that everyone who works in technology absolutely needs to be thinking about as the calendar year draws to a close.

How to transition our tech stars back into the office

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In anticipation of vaccines rolling out in 2021, there is a feeling of optimism in the air for everyone who works in technology that was blatantly missing during 2020. Now that our wine cellars have been emptied and our homes have been completely renovated, many are once again looking to their professional lives to provide fulfillment and challenge. But most are rethinking their definition of professional fulfillment. Perhaps how to transition our technical stars back is not completely accurate. Perhaps the question is more about “if” we transition our technical stars back to the office. Not only did the COVID-imposed work-from-home regime allow many to experience a more equitable work-life balance, it also changed our tolerance for the over-populated office space we once accepted. As 2020 draws to a close, it is the right time for the enterprise to consider what the new policy will be with regard to enticing back our technical stars. Many suggest that anticipating a transition back to daily commutes may start an epidemic of employee turnover. If we do not start to communicate plans in the short-term, we risk losing the commitment of the very players who kept us afloat during 2020.

How to attract the entrepreneurs

While many technology companies did well in 2020, many non-tech organizations were not as successful at keeping afloat. Between COVID, the crash of the oil industry, and immature governments with bizarre mandates, many workers found themselves without employment. If nothing else, our culture has prepared us to be creative and entrepreneurial in our endeavors when our livelihood is threatened. This spirit was very apparent, and 2020 saw many successfully transition to self-employment. As the economy begins to open up, it is these survivors whose knowledge will be needed to help build up the enterprise. But after being burned by the concept of corporate employment, we will need to become creative and proactive if we want to attract this demographic.

One of the common attributes that new entrepreneurs associate with self-employment is the direct correlation between effort and compensation. This is not true of a full-time employment role. As a full-time employee, most receive the same compensation regardless of whether we work extended hours in an effort to meet deliverables or simply turn off the lights at the end of our required eight-hour day.

For the enterprise to attract these technical professionals, we need to consider a better correlation between effort and compensation. Bonus compensation can work to achieve this. Some organizations are looking to remove required hours in lieu of specifying deliverables to be met within a certain timeline. The challenge is that this introduces a new way of managing employees, which may become the bigger issue. Traditional management styles are not conducive to this type of management. It may be time to rewrite organizational theory, or to at least question if the current theories we embrace will attract the technical professionals that we need.

What is our policy regarding the COVID vaccine?

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Professionals within certain health-care regions have historically been familiar with mandated flu shots and vaccines. For the rest of us, this is new territory. As we slowly come to the realization that COVID is more of an endemic than a pandemic, our eyes will open up to the reality of an ongoing vaccine similar to chickenpox and measles. The challenge is that we have all formed our own opinions about the value of vaccination. Add to that the fact that each country has its own regulations and guidelines regarding vaccination. This is the time for the enterprise to understand the regulations within their specific geography and how the corporate policy will align to that compliance. Corporate policies will need to have this new information integrated into the onboarding process, as well as annual sign-off from employees. Communication of this new information will need to be considered, as anything that touches on personal values needs to be handled rather carefully.

Updates to the business continuity plan

As we are tempted to let out a huge breath of air, it is suggested that we refrain from doing so. We live in an overpopulated world in which most borders are completely open. From the realization on Jan. 9, 2020, to the announcement of a global health emergency on January 31, 2020, let’s not forget that COVID spread worldwide within that very short period. Some medical theorists proclaim that what we experienced in 2020 may very likely happen again within the short-term. If nothing else, we need to look at our lessons learned and incorporate those very lessons into our business continuity plan. So many organizations did so many things right. Technical professionals stepped up to ensure systems were accessible for all remote employees. Internet service providers stepped up their game to ensure access for everyone. Cloud service providers upped their security. Others stumbled. Regardless of where we fall within this continuum, we need to document the tasks well done and ensure that we do not lose that intellectual capital. As it should be at the end of each calendar year, now is the time to update the business continuity plan.

We are not excused from our business obligations

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Technology in 2020: Lessons learned

The complete and bizarre weirdness of 2020 for technology workers does not mean that we are receiving a hall pass from our year-end obligations to the enterprise. If anything, we need to step up and provide the leadership that employees are looking for right now. This is not the time to be reactive. We need to document our lessons learned, plan our next steps, and figure out how best to communicate changes that may potentially impact the values of our team. At the very least, we do know that 2021 will mean more of the same for the first couple of quarters. This does mean that we have time to be prepared for the final two quarters of 2021, regardless of what surprises those may hold.

Featured image: Pixabay

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