I really didn’t want to write a working from home blog. So, this is not a working from home blog. What it is, is some good tips for you as an IT employee to make sure that you remain visible and productive to your employer during your isolation period.
Without wanting to come across like a doomsday prophet, it’s the employees that prove that they can make money for their companies even in a downturn that will be the ones that are more likely keep their jobs.
If you work for an MSP this means that if you can keep your billable hours up and you can perform your work efficiently with few or no customer complaints then you should be able to at least cover your wage and be an asset to the company. The equation is pretty simple, smart business owners are looking at their cost structure and looking to shave any costs that don’t directly produce revenue. Just being good at what you do is not enough if you can’t prove that what you do is profitable.
So, how can you meet your billable hours targets and prove your profitability to the company if that simply isn’t the work there?
I don’t have that silver bullet but here are some tips and some things to try.
- Call the clients you look after. Talk to them about what they’re going through, listen to their problems and see if there’s anything you can do from an IT or IT service perspective that will help. If they’re on a managed service agreement and you don’t need to get approval to fix problems or do little projects then just go ahead and fix some of the niggling issues that have been on the list for a long time. Proactively do a small project that was put on the back burner (with approval).
- Ask your boss what research and development projects he would like you to work on. Particularly, what you want to do is focus on R&D projects that are likely to make the company money in the shortest timeframe. In the recruitment industry we call it, most money soonest. So, if you have knowledge of your clients and what they need, what will help their business most urgently then you can be the one to do the research and development for those projects.
Build a prototype in a virtual or cloud environment and then meet with the client online and show them that you’ve already done a pilot test of this project and you know it will work and it hasn’t cost the client a cent yet. They might give you a green light to go ahead and to do the production version of that project. For them, there’s now no risk in the project, particularly as you should also now be able to give them an accurate fixed price quote to deliver on it.
- Make sure you’re visible. Being at home is not an excuse to hide. Some of you I know are excellent engineers but fly under the radar and your boss doesn’t notice you too much because you don’t make much noise and you’re not always blowing your own trumpet. While I commend you and I think that’s a great quality to have, I also think now is the time to stand up and keep good communication practices with your team members and your boss. Showcase the work you are doing and the benefit it is having to clients. Particularly, where you might be struggling to meet billable hours KPIs. Every employee will be judged in this environment as to how they perform and what their performance looks like in relation to revenue. And, much of what employers will rely on in times like these are utlisation and billable hours reports produced through Connectwise or similar because they won’t be able to easily talk to you face to face.
So don’t stay quiet, have regular meetings with your boss, listen really carefully, try and solve some company problems. Doing that will keep you visible as well and less likely to lose your job because you’re seen to be adding value.
Desperate times call for desperate measures people. Now is the time to work harder than ever on relationships. Relationships with your clients, relationships with your employer and team, and most importantly the relationship with your family and friends. It’s never been harder to do that because you’re not as visible to your work colleagues as you were before and you’re probably going to be way too visible to your family!
Good luck, stay safe and don’t use this time as an excuse to slow down and become introverted because exactly the opposite is necessary.