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The pandemic has given IT workers far more freedom when it comes to working remotely, according to research by Computer Weekly.
The annual Computer Weekly/TechTarget IT salary survey asked IT workers how their working arrangements have changed since the start of the pandemic, and 38% said their firm allows flexible working, so they can choose whether to work from home or from the office.
Just over 30% said they now work from home all the time, and 27% said they work from home several days a week – a contrast to the 2019/20 survey, in which only 10% of respondents said they worked from home all the time, and 46% said they worked from home less than one day a week.
Debbie Forster, CEO of Tech Talent Charter, said: “It’s a shame that it’s taken a global pandemic to realise what many of us have known for a long time – that flexible and remote working is a boost, not a drain on productivity, as well providing far more equitable opportunities for talent from a diverse range of backgrounds.
“Many tech roles can be performed remotely, so it is reassuring to see that a far higher proportion of employees now have the freedom to choose where they work. Perhaps it is partly this recognition from tech companies that is helping to offset the ‘great resignation’ in this sector – employers are becoming more adaptable and flexible and are hanging on to their best talent because of it.”
Only 10% of employees said nothing has changed since the beginning of the pandemic, and only 10% said they still work mainly in the office – but factors such as where they can work from and how far their commute to the office would be are increasingly important considerations for IT workers.
Recent research by talent and skills provider Mthree found that many younger people are avoiding or leaving the technology sector because of poor company culture, and Finsbury Glover Hering found that tech’s reputation for a lack of flexibility and long working hours is stopping people from wanting to work in the sector.
It isn’t just working from home that has gained popularity since the pandemic began, with 72% of IT workers saying that life priorities are an important consideration for them when it comes to work, and 72% also saying the same about work/life balance.
IT workers are also becoming more conscious of company values, with 61% saying it is important to them that the values of their employer align with their own, and 45% saying sustainability and climate change have becoming important to them since the start of the pandemic.
Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates and Global Tech Advocates, said: “It is clear to see that the pandemic has made us reset our priorities. It does not come as much of a surprise that 72% of respondents stated that a work/life balance is important to them.
“There has been a seismic moment of global change in the world of work, with relationships between businesses and employees redefined for good. This research suggests that employers are decidedly renavigating their role in this altered landscape, and employee wellbeing has taken precedence.”
The pandemic also caused a shakeup for hiring in the tech sector. Initially, firms held off hiring IT workers and completing IT projects because of pandemic uncertainty. This was also reflected in the salaries reported in last year’s survey. But demand for IT workers then increased again as it was clear technology would be integral to the running of businesses during a global crisis, and salaries have also recovered.
Respondents to the Computer Weekly/TechTarget IT salary survey are predominantly mid-to-senior-level IT managers, aged 35 or above, which means the average salary of workers found is slightly higher than figures reported elsewhere.
The 2021/22 average salary for tech workers of all levels, as found by the survey, was £79,330 – a recovery from a drop to an average of £71,880 in 2020/21 after an average of £79,354 pre-pandemic.
Average salaries vary depending on role – senior IT managers averaged £116,617, while general IT staff made an average of £55,211 a year, which more closely represents the reported industry average.
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- The technology sector in England and Wales posted more job vacancies in 2021 than the entirety of British businesses did in 2020.
- Driven by startups and scaleups, employment in digital firms in Edinburgh and Glasgow is growing more than in other parts of the UK, according to data.
Salary also varied by the number of years people have spent in the industry, with those who have been in the industry 15 years or more earning an average of £87,620, as opposed to those new to the industry, who earn an average of £45,140.
A recovery of pre-pandemic salary levels was not the only improvement noted in this year’s survey – only 14% of IT workers said their firms had made people redundant because of the pandemic in 2021/22, compared with 19% of IT staff that were made redundant in companies forced to make redundancies in the previous year when the pandemic was in full swing.
There have been many reports of IT workers looking either to leave their roles or leave the sector, with Gartner finding that about 70% of IT professionals are currently considering moving to a new employer, and recruitment consultancy Hays Technology finding the same of three out of five people it asked.
The third annual Confidence index 2021 from IT jobs board CWJobs even found that 8% of tech workers and IT decision-makers are considering leaving the sector altogether.
But as the skills gap persists and threats of resignation loom over the tech sector, firms that offer benefits alongside a better salary may be more likely to hold on to their tech talent.
Almost half of those questioned in the Computer Weekly/TechTarget IT salary survey intend to stay in their current role for the immediate future. Although this is slightly lower than was found in other reports, Alan Warr, past chair of the BCS Consultancy Specialist Group, pointed out that senior IT professionals are less likely to be seeking a change, and that it is “Generation Z [those born after 1995] who are the driving force behind the great resignation”.
The Computer Weekly/TechTarget IT salary survey found that 12% of those who are looking for a new role are hoping to improve their work/life balance, and 12% want to improve their skillset, while 48% are hoping a new role will mean more money.
Warr warned that in some cases, IT workers may improve their salary by moving to a different firm, but then find that their new role is not what they expected, having been “oversold” by companies or recruitment agencies desperate for talent.
He said: “IT professionals have been finding that moving to another firm will usually result in a fillip of additional salary, but many find that the drive for more meaning from their work is often not achieved.”
As firms are increasingly offering the benefits that employees are asking for, such as working from home, Warr said that “the heat is going out of the great resignation”. While there is “no going back” to pre-pandemic ways of working and it has now been proved that many can do their job elsewhere, there are still some kinks to work out, he said.
“Some firms are bringing staff back into the office and for some firms that will be essential, but flexible working is now a highly credible way of working and fully remote working is a growing option for roles that do not need to be present in the place of work to be effective,” said Warr.
“The pandemic has confirmed that potential to be real and accessible, but there is more research needed on how to get the very best from this new way of organising work and to work through some of the downsides and digital skills uplifts needed.”