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Seemingly overnight, “social distancing” became the new normal. While individuals struggled to get used to the idea, it hit businesses like a slap in the face. All of a sudden, many businesses no longer had a choice about adopting digital transformation. Whether it was letting employees work from home or developing a “contactless” way to deliver a pizza, digital transformation happened in a flash, whether businesses wanted it to or not.
The question now is, what will happen when the world (and the economy) open back up again? Some things, at least at first, will snap back to the way they were. Shops and restaurants will be packed, movies will be sold out, and kids might even be happy to go back to school.
Other things, though, will likely never go back to exactly how they were before. For example, some people are predicting that the handshake will never come back!
But the real, and probably permanent, change will likely be seeing technology not as a threat, but as our saving grace. Businesses and the average person alike had to leap too far, too fast, into the technological world to ever go all the way back.
That’s why, despite a possible economic downturn and the knowledge that many job losses will be permanent, we at Codility think forward-looking businesses should ramp up their hiring plans for engineers or risk getting left behind.
Why You Should Be Actively Hiring Engineers, Developers, and Coders
COVID-19 isn’t over yet.
This pandemic hasn’t yet run its course, and, other than healthcare workers, engineers are on the front lines.
- Automotive manufacturers GM and Ford have completely retooled their manufacturing lines to make ventilators instead of cars. That’s no easy task. In fact, it usually takes years for an auto manufacturer to roll out a new model. The long, drawn-out process involves holding workshop designs, building prototypes, and initiating small production runs for testing purposes before they finally design an assembly process that produces millions of cars per year.
So when they were tasked with retooling to make ventilators, it was quite a challenge. And it’s one that couldn’t be done without modern technology. For instance, GM employees took a ventilator apart, took a 3-D scan of each of its 300 parts, and then created computer simulations of the most efficient way to assemble the device.
- The country also needs easier testing, faster results, and better epidemiological models that can be tweaked for each new factor scientists discover.
- And perhaps the biggest need is for engineers and data scientists of all kinds to come up with a way to help us be better prepared for the next pandemic. We need pre-designed, peer-reviewed models so that scientists can plug in the genome of a particular bug and get all the information they need about how infectious it is, what the mortality rate is, etc. We need tracking capability that will help us identify contacts, or trigger data-based suggestions to our country’s leaders on when to shut down borders, when to tell people to stay at home, etc. Having tested, peer-approved models will give leaders the ability to protect their citizens without worrying about charges of bias.
Who does that kind of work? Engineers.
When COVID-19 is over, the world will be different.
During this pandemic, we all discovered our inner creativity. We learned to do things online that we wouldn’t have thought possible before. However, we also learned that some of the tools we relied on weren’t quite up to the task.
Working and learning from home will always be an option.
Ever since videoconferencing came to the laptop, and apps like Slack made virtual teamwork easy, workers have been pushing to work from home. In fact, according to the State of Work 2019 survey by Owl Labs, 34% of employees would be willing to take a 5% pay cut to work from home, 24% would take a 10% pay cut, and 20% would be willing to give up more than 10% of their pay.
Many employers, with the notable exception of the tech industry, have been reluctant to adapt remote work, primarily out of fear that employees would be less productive. COVID-19, however, took the decision out of their hands. And while some jobs can’t be done remotely — working on one of those ventilator assembly lines, for example — most have found that, yes, remote work is possible. And if it’s possible, employees are going to demand it.
And, if working from home becomes the new normal, we’ll need engineers to design cloud-based systems that support video streaming (such as in educational uses) as well as real-time collaboration, where multiple users can simultaneously work on the same design, document, etc., both making changes and explaining the reasons behind those changes. Unfortunately, our current tools aren’t up to the job. We’re already seeing that, with both parents and children working from home, a lot of families are finding themselves battling for bandwidth.
Engineers will be the ones who have to look beyond what’s currently possible, imagine what could quickly become possible (with the right people and tools) and figure out how to get there. 5G seems to be the obvious answer, but if it’s delayed by a potential economic downturn, we’ll need engineers to come up with stop-gap technology to handle more data on the 4G system.
New services are being delivered remotely.
While some insurers have offered “telehealth” for years, it was never widely adopted. But when telehealth became the only option, people got on board. And it’s not just physical doctors, mental health professionals are serving patients remotely as well. Even yoga instructors and personal coaches are joining in.
But the possibilities extend even further than that. Consider the schools, libraries, and other community institutions that host events on things like teen mental health, the effects of social media on kids, what to consider if you’re moving an elderly relative into your house, etc. Imagine how “attendance” would soar if people didn’t have to set their beer down and put real clothes on.
And what about industry conferences, with their line-up of speakers who have to arrange child care, make travel reservations, lose valuable time in transit, etc.? What if they could deliver their speeches remotely? Futurist Daniel Burrus already does, delivering keynote speeches via life-sized holograms. People who have attended his presentations have been impressed, so it’s likely that more popular speakers will try that route for themselves.
And who designs that technology? Engineers.
And, finally, there’s security.
Anyone who works in tech (or anyone who uses it, for that matter) is aware of the importance of cybersecurity. For businesses, hiring engineers who are experts in cybersecurity is essential to moving forward with technology. An approximate 15% of companies found 1,000,000+ files open to every employee. The cost of a breach in the healthcare industry averages $6.5 million. On the personal front, Internet of Things (everything from smart devices to personal computers on the same network) devices experience 5,200 attacks per month.
And who can protect them? Engineers.
The COVID-19 pandemic is, without question, a global tragedy. Thousands have died, and thousands more — especially those who can only work onsite — have lost their only source of income. But the economy will come back. We think it will be different, and one way that it will be different is that every company will be a tech company. Even if technology isn’t your core product or service, technology will be what gets you there in a competitive way. If you want to be ready to go when the world turns back on, start hiring engineers now.
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