A readjustment for IT service companies into pandemic's second year – Wichita Business Journal – Wichita Business Journal

More than 18 months ago, when Covid-19 reached the Wichita area, IT service companies were busy preparing businesses for the work-from-home routine that many could’ve been using for years, yet hadn’t because of the traditional office model.
IT companies, by nature quick to adapt to the latest challenges, are now watching how Covid-19 has continued to have an effect on the workplace and the companies they serve.
And whether your company has returned to the office, adopted a hybrid plan of office and remote work, or kept employees home the entire time, IT companies have been watching and waiting for the next big thing.
Kind of like they’ve been doing for decades.
“It’s where the old 80/20 rule comes into play,” said Paul Bush, principal consultant for OneSource Technology, Inc., in Wichita. “Eighty percent of client needs are consistent, but that extra 20% may require some specialization for that particular client.”
All of the companies on this week’s WBJ list of IT service companies, big and small, may feel as if they haven’t been able to take a breath during the pandemic.
Early challenges were ensuring people heading home to work from the office were prepared and had the best equipment available — equipment that wasn’t always available in a convenient timeframe.
Hardware supply issues got better, but have recently again become a challenge.
Bush recently sold a client 10 monitors, and the client decided it needed 10 more of the same. But what arrived quickly the first time, and order in mid-August the second time, is now due to arrive by Halloween.
“It’s monitors, it’s servers, it’s wireless devices, it’s everything across the board,” said Bush, whose company is 16th on this week’s list ranked by number of company-wide employees. “What’s frustrating for us and our client base is it’s hit and miss.”
Dan Reisig, vice president of technology at UV&S Inc., calls it the technology winter.
“The chip shortages are really getting to us again,” said Reisig, whose company is seventh on the list.
IT companies are keeping a watchful eye on attitudes taken and decisions made by clients — no matter whether they’re small shops with less than a dozen workers or bigger companies.
For many, the pandemic showed that productivity at home and productivity at the office were close enough that it makes sense to offer remote work to employees. Or an employee who suffered an injury, or who was forced to stay at home with a sick child, in an earlier period wouldn’t have worked while at home.
“Two years ago they probably would’ve taken PTO (paid time off) and just been off those couple of days,” Bush said. “But now that we’ve got them comfortable with the idea of them working from home and their organization has the tools and technology in place that they can work from home, there is staff that floats in between depending on what’s going on in their lives.”
Bush said it’s one of the most important things the business community learned in the past 18 months — flexibility is important.
What used to be a rare occurrence with an employee taking a company laptop home to get some work done is much more common, especially when they may plan to work from home — with the company’s blessing — for the rest of the week.
“If you’re working at the office and you took a coffee break to go have a talk with your friends …,” Reisig said. “If you’re at home, you can do a load of laundry. So it’s changed the way people think about work and the things they can accomplish, and the amount of time and the value of time to employees. It’s just changed.”
But while adjusting to clients’ needs, IT service companies have also looked within. Already adaptable, the pandemic proved the boundaries could be extended.
“We found out we were just as successful taking care of clients and doing things that needed to be done just as if we were in the office,” Reisig said.
Not that change didn’t take adjustment. UV&S is a 60-year-old, family owned company with what Reisig describes as conservative leadership. Everyone worked in the office because it was the way things have been done and it was a way to know they were working.
“(Now) when you release them to their homes and productivity and profit margins continue, that kind of makes you go, ‘Huh, well, I guess this works OK,'” Reisig said. “So you start loosening the belt and say this is not such a bad idea.”
Reisig predicts the continued productivity with remote work will have UV&S thinking long-term about what it needs for office space, if there are opportunities to make changes.
And when employees are home, at UV&S or for other companies, there could be a new commitment to what’s needed to be effective. Many workers in various sectors began working from home on kitchen tables or other rooms in a house, such as at a table in a craft room.
“My opinion, I think have a professional space at the house to go work out of is going to become a high priority for a lot of professionals,” Reisig said.
Those kinds of decisions could also be impacted by technology. Stronger wifi connections and higher-quality cameras are just two examples of equipment that could enhance work from home, especially if an employee consistently freezes or stutters while on group video calls.
“I think when we look back in a couple years, it’s going to be a huge evolution in how business gets done,” OneSource Technology’s Bush said, “and what we as leaders can expect from our employees and teams and the way we manage those teams.”
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