If there’s one big takeaway from the global COVID-19 crisis, it’s how employers and employees alike are reconceiving the idea of work, and more specifically the idea of the workplace. As the number of companies allowing employees to work from home during the last 18 months has increased, so has the conversation around whether remote work is going to become the norm long after the pandemic ends. And for many employees, especially those in the technology sector, the bigger question is: Why hasn’t remote work been the standard all along?

While the pandemic has opened employers’ eyes to the types of jobs that can be done in a remote fashion, web developers, coders, software engineers, and others in the tech space would make the argument that they could have been working remotely, productively, and efficiently for the last 5 to 10 years.

The rapid development of at-home computing power, information networks, and interconnected nature of mobile devices has not only made working from home feasible and attractive for employees, but it’s also caught the eye of employers who can envision a landscape without the costs associated with holding down a physical location.

A recent article in Upwork revealed an estimated 26% of Americans (1 in 4) will likely be working from home through 2021, and that more than 36 million Americans will be working remotely full-time by 2025.

This signals a seismic shift in how and where large numbers of Americans will work in the coming years, so let’s take a quick look at some jobs in the tech industry who will be well-equipped to adapt to this shift to better understand what the workplace of the not-too-distant future might look like.

Web developer

Web developers are essentially both the architects and carpenters of website pages. They create the blueprints and design plans for how the page will look, the functionality, user interfaces, and more, and then they actually put plans into action by helping to build the page with backend coding and script. In addition, they are responsible for testing new sites, maintaining and updating existing ones, and integrating new software or products into legacy sites or pages.

Web developers have a variety of career paths to follow. Some work in the computer systems design industry, while others work in a variety of spaces where quality websites are a core driver of business, such as marketing, advertising, publishing, consulting, e-commerce, and more.

Computer programmer

Computer programmers create computer applications via code. These professionals test new features and look for malfunctions, combining some of the knowledge and experience a web developer might have with an element of quality assurance. Because computer programmers are tasked with discovering potential gaps in application security, errors in the code, or other areas where application failure could occur, they work on a more granular level compared to a web developer. If a web developer draws the blueprints and builds the structure, then the computer programmer works with the language and verbiage on which the blueprints and structures are built.

Computer programmers are poised to experience the most discomfort from the shift to a work-from-home model, though that is in large part due to the aging nature of the workforce. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the “employment of computer programmers is projected to decline 10 percent from 2020 to 2030…all of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.”

However, this does bode well for the next generation of computer programmers who will likely be more comfortable in a remote work environment because of the era in which they grew up and the facility with new and changing trends in technology.

Database Administrator

Database administrators store, organize, retrieve, and maintain large amounts of mission-critical data for companies and organizations. In addition, database administrators also play a vital role in helping companies ensure vital data is properly backed-up and secured so that valuable information is stored effectively, efficiently, and curated in such a way for easy on-demand retrieval. These tech professionals also help manage database access, oversee permissions or rights to large databases, and ensure access to key data is being overseen in compliance with local, state, or federal regulations.

These tech professionals work in firms that provide computer design services or in industries that have large databases, such educational institutions and insurance companies. According to the BLS, the employment outlook for database administrators looks to be positive as the bureau estimates the employment of these tech professionals is projected to grow 8 percent from 2020 to 2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Software developer

Whereas a computer programmer writes the code on which programs and applications function, software developers direct programmers on the kinds of codes that are necessary to create the applications and programs. If a computer programmer is an airline pilot, then the software developer is the air traffic controller who provides critical guidance, support, and direction to ensure the plane takes off and lands safely. As such, software developers must have a keen, intimate understanding of common coding language, but also the eye and ability to understand the outcomes of how that coding is deployed.

Software developers often work in offices and on teams with other software developers or quality assurance analysts and testers. The team-oriented aspect of software developers could put them at a slight disadvantage in a work from home environment where a byproduct is a lack of direct collaboration and communication, but much of the collaboration on development occurs in front of a screen, so any ramifications of the shift would likely be negligible.

Computer Systems Analyst

A computer systems analyst evaluates a company’s computer network and digital framework, and then makes recommendations on how to implement modifications to improve efficiency and efficacy based on the company’s needs and infrastructure. Essentially, a computer systems analyst functions as a home makeover specialist on a renovation reality show where they take stock of a structure (computer network), suggest improvements, and help the homeowner (company) see them to fruition. As such an analyst must be able to understand both business and IT, and recognize the needs and limitations on both sides of the aisle when creating solutions.

The employment outlook for computer systems analysts is quite positive through 2030 as more and more companies discover the need to evaluate or overhaul their digital frameworks, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the importance of e-commerce and a robust, engaging digital presence.

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