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What's Next For The Digital Sector?

by Julian Vecchio

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In the first part of Xcede’s Future of Work series, our Managing Director Julian Vecchio explores the current digital landscape and the impact of Covid-19 on the jobs market.

Over the course of the last few months, the world has changed. The pandemic has impacted everything from the way we go to work, to the way we learn and shop. Now, as we begin to slowly ease out of lockdown and consider what the future holds, we take a closer look at the digital industries and what this new normal could mean for candidates and employers. An immediate trend we have seen across the board is a change in the types of businesses that are recruiting. Those industries that have traditionally conducted a lot of business offline, including travel and retail, have slowed down or, in many cases, paused recruitment altogether. However, some businesses are booming. Gaming, video streaming, and Fintech are just some of the areas that have continued to thrive. Importantly, consumer behaviour has transformed, and this has driven demand for key digital and online services such as food delivery and virtual communications platforms. Digital roles have seen a less dramatic downturn in hiring than other areas – around 35% on average. This is largely due to the online nature of much of the work in the sector and the capacity for people to be productive from home.

The Way We Go to Work Has Changed

One powerful change has been the way we all connect with work. Businesses that have long been concerned about the impact of homeworking have seen their fears eased as staff continued to be productive from their dining-room table or home office. People across the country and around the world have seen their commutes evaporate and discovered a better work-life balance. This is a step forward that cannot be forgotten or erased. The infrastructure is now in place for whole businesses to connect remotely. Last month, Twitter announced its intention to let all employees (who wanted to) to work from home indefinitely. This is something that is sure to be replicated in other organisations, particularly when considering the potential cost savings of downgrading their bricks and mortar setup.

Covid-19 Will Transform Future Digital Recruitment

After the global economic recession in 2008, digital hiring trends evolved. Suddenly, businesses were hiring data professionals to understand business performance. A new reliance on reporting and analytics fuelled demand for data scientists and analysts that has continued for more than a decade. The Covid-19 crisis is likely to have a similar long-term impact on digital hiring. Although the situation is still crystallising, we are already seeing organisations looking at new ways to optimise performance, streamline processes, refine e-commerce platforms, and accelerate automation projects. They will need access to a wide range of digital skills to achieve these aims. We have also seen a growth in demand for data professionals in pharmaceuticals companies as biostatistics become an increasingly important part of drug discovery. It’s too early to confirm how this rising demand for digital and data skills will impact salaries, but it’s a trend we are monitoring closely. Another traditionally important area for digital hiring is startups, and although some may have the agility to survive an almost global lockdown, those who have not secured funding may struggle. Candidates could also be more cautious about working for companies who are not tried-and-tested industry names in an uncertain climate.

Hiring Has Gone Remote

Although hiring has reduced in some parts of the industry, it’s certainly not stopped. But in order to keep candidates and team members safe, the way we hire has to change for the foreseeable future. This not only means virtual interviews and remote sourcing and engaging of candidates, it often means a complete reimagining of the whole onboarding process. The capacity to successfully welcome someone to a team remotely, deliver virtual training, and keep new hires engaged and supported is now a key requirement for all organisations. 

The pandemic we have all navigated is not a single contained event. It’s an ongoing challenge that will continue to shape the way we work for years to come. Organisations must take steps now to ensure they have a strategic plan in place to protect staff, enable essential hiring, and support a robust infrastructure that can endure future waves of disease or global catastrophe.