New normal? Bah, data sector has been WFH for years

working from home2The “new normal” triggered by the impact of Covid-19 may have seen millions struggle to adapt to working from home, fret over online meetings and “Zoom fatigue”, and fear for their jobs, but most data and analytics professionals have had these issues sorted for years.

That is according to new data from Harnham’s 2020 UK Salary Guide, which shows the changes that the pandemic has made to many industries, their environments and attitudes, were beginning to take shape in the data and analytics space years before the pandemic struck.

The recruitment firm’s study shows that working remotely or from home has been possible in the industry first and foremost because of well-established, high-functioning cloud-based technologies, with the top five being SQL, Python, SAS, Google Analytics and Excel.

With these systems already in place, the almost-overnight shift from office-based work to a flexible model was already implemented across the data and analytics sector. Ahead of the pandemic, over half of those working in the industry stated that they had some sort of flexible working scheme in place; this year this rocketed to 84%.

Even so, this growth is not a result of lockdown. Prior to the measures introduced to combat the spread of  Covid-19, more than four-fifths (83%) of respondents were listed as having some form of flexible working, something which only increased by 2% during the most recent analysis.

Another big concern across the board is whether there will be a desk to go back to once things began to subside, with many holding onto their current roles for dear life. However, for many data and analytics professionals, the market is booming.

While fewer respondents felt more secure in their role and slightly more felt less secure than this time last year, the number who felt ‘about the same’ stayed almost identical. Even in the Covid world, over three-quarters (77%) felt ‘more’ or ‘as secure’ in their role, the same percentage as in Harnham’s 2019 guide.

Interlinked with this surprisingly good attitude towards job security is the atypical finding that, despite dire warnings over the economy and the jobs market as a whole, recruitment in the data and analytics market will be more active than ever this year.

In the new study, almost a third of respondents said they are actively seeking a new role. Confident that the industry is on the up, employees are searching for more competitive salaries (17%) or a role with greater career progression prospects (18%); nearly three-quarters (74%) would happily leave their role if something better came up – only 3% down from last year.

Harnham Recruitment founding partner Dave Farmer said: “The pandemic has undoubtedly changed our world, and for many the coming years will see will be a period of having to adapt and flex to the employee, economic and industry changes to come.

“What is sure, however, is that the data and analytics sector is two steps ahead, and will look to continue to trail-blaze over this turbulent time as an industry that has been adapting to the ‘new normal’ long before any of us could have predicted we would need it.”

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