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Working practices have shifted due to COVID-19: what are the next challenges and opportunities?

Sponsored by Code Red Associates

The pandemic has accelerated workplace transitions that were already under way and forcing organisations to adapt fast. Maxine Osborne of Code Red Associates explains how to embrace this to create advantages and what to consider when hiring staff to work on IT transformations

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Picture: Getty
Picture: Getty
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“Perhaps the biggest change in IT in the housing sector has been the move to the cloud. From a recruitment perspective this has opened up a new candidate pool,” says Maxine Osborne, managing director @CodeRedRecruit (sponsored) #UKhousing

“Cyber security – or the lack of it – is a significant threat. The type and volume of personal and financial customer dates that housing providers hold is a desirable target,” says Maxine Osborne, managing director @CodeRedRecruit (sponsored) #UKhousing

.@CodeRedRecruit partners exclusively with software houses to get first-hand the technology advances available to local authorities and housing associations (sponsored) #UKhousing

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What should organisations consider as they seek to adapt to new ways of working?

Perhaps the biggest change has been the move to the cloud. We should know, as heavily investing in digital platforms and integrated back-office systems has allowed Code Red to transform its business by also moving onto intelligent cloud-based platforms.

From a recruitment perspective, this change has opened up a new candidate pool of IT professionals that organisations would not previously have been able to access because they lived too far away from the office. However, with remote access, we have been able to broaden our search for untapped talent for our clients.

So when looking to embrace new ways of working, do not be fearful – be excited. You can now attract candidates that you may not have considered previously – and with the potential for reduced travel costs, or for recruiting from regions in which salary demands may be lower, they might even cost less than you would have budgeted for a year ago.

What are the significant risks organisations should be aware of?

Cybersecurity, or the lack of it, is a significant threat. The type and volume of personal and financial customer data that housing providers hold is a desirable and lucrative target for cybercriminals and fraudsters.

Keeping the data safe is the single biggest challenge facing organisations today, which is why recruitment of security and data protection roles has increased.


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Maxine Osborne

Maxine Osborne is managing director at Code Red Associates, a specialist IT recruitment firm that focuses on councils, central government and non-for-profit organisations. She has more than 10 years’ experience in the recruitment industry and specialises in the housing sector.

Which skills are in greatest demand these days and why?

We have recently witnessed a huge demand for highly skilled specialists, such as consultants with extensive experience working to a tight deadline for project-based work. There is currently a lot of work available on migration, implementation and upgrade projects, so we see a lot of movement here.

Within these projects, the roles we are most frequently asked to recruit for are typically programme or project managers, developers, testers, data and applications analysts, trainers and engineers.

Housing providers most often ask us to find candidates with expertise in the most commonly used housing and asset management systems, such as Northgate, Aareon, Civica, Orchard, Capita and Dynamics, as well as asset management systems such as Keystone and Oracle.

When considering whether to hire permanent or contract employees for new IT projects, what should organisations consider?

Typically, a permanent employee fills a long-term role that already exists. Specialist contractors should be engaged for short-term assignments – these are usually projects that require skills that full-time employees do not need to possess.

Specialists can usually hit the ground running. You will be paying a premium to acquire experience of a specific nature to the work you wish them to undertake. Specialists contractors can often be hired within a matter of days.

Permanent employees take longer to recruit – it’s often a matter of weeks or months. They will require bedding in as well as continued investment and development in their skillsets. Permanent employees ensure that business as usual continues.

What do you see as the most significant changes coming down the line? And how can landlords prepare?

Housing providers are investing more and more in their IT infrastructure – from the set of technologies they use, to intelligent data analysis and artificial intelligence – in order to keep up with their customers’ demands.

Organisations are increasingly looking to partner with businesses like Code Red. We partner exclusively with some software houses, which means we get to see first-hand the technological changes that will soon be available to local authorities and housing associations. This also means that we understand what skills will be required in advance, too.

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