Social Enterprise

Take off your suit pants and jacket -- It's Web 2.0

With the shortage of talented IT staff on hand the smell of dot-com culture has made a comeback. Welcome to Web 2.0 work culture , the future of yesterday.

It's time to take off that uncomfortable suit and put on those comfy jeans you left at home during the dot-com crash. And while you're at it, grow that tidy corporate haircut out, let your facial hair run wild, and visit your local tattoo parlor so you can show off some visible ink.

The word is out. IT rock geeks are back in demand and stereotypical "dot-com" culture (and smell) is back in vogue. Managers are again in a bidding war to compete with their rivals and new Web juggernauts like Google to retain their best employees by offering a laid-back environment to benefit staff moral, retention and productivity.

Enter Web 2.0 work culture, the future of yesterday.

According to this year's Deloitte study of 500 CEOs finding, hiring, and retaining top IT talent is on top of the high brass' agenda for future growth. According to the report what is making the situation worse is the impending retirement of baby boomers who are leaving the workforce in droves.

"Technology companies, which rely heavily on top talent to drive innovation, will suffer especially from this global problem" said Deloitte technology media and telecommunications industry group leader, Damian Tampling, who thinks that the shortage will become a crisis for the industry for decades to come, particularly in Australia.

It's fascinating to think that almost five years ago the total opposite was true. Dot-com was a dirty word, saying you worked in the industry was something one didn't readily admit unless you'd had a few beers. And that's if you had the cash to buy a few as many found themselves out of a job, their salary was on freeze, or had to take jobs at half the pay of what they were demanding during the boom.

Folks who had yuppified previous urban dank centres of San Francisco, Sydney, Melbourne, and London were having to sell their properties because they could no longer afford to live in said dank bohemia anymore.

Global recruitment companies were telling prospecting employees that they were no longer going to be employed just because they were a technical guru. They were going to have to learn to dress, communicate, and adapt all the traditional corporate ideals that IT has been exempt from during the dot-com boom.

Fast forward to Web 2.0 and while workplaces aren't as cheesy with their decor as they were were in the late '90s, and developers aren't getting paid $100K for being HTML and JavaScript jockeys, geeks just aren't chuffed with corporate culture.

I recently heard of a developer taking a pay cut of around $40K a year to leave his business intelligence programming and consultancy job to work as an engineer for Google Australia. It wasn't the money that necessarily was keeping him around but the lure of working on innovative projects in an environment where lunch is provided, developers get to work on their own projects, and most people have passed a stringent brainiac litmus test before being employed.

Not all people can take such a drastic pay cut and keep the mortgage but the reality is that people are looking past the dollar signs to a more flexible work environment.

It may not be a total bean bag environment yet, and here at CNET Australia we're still looking to re-instate our Street Fighter 2 machine, but it's creeping in more and more. Web consultants with big ideas are back in, reasonable pay salaries have made a comeback, and the ties and uncomfortable shoes are being left at home.

As Spinal Tap wisely once said "The less things change the more they stay the same".

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