Given them a round of applause, and a pay rise…:
[…] For many of us this past year, the transition to working from home was a smooth one. For that, we owe our thanks to the tireless work of our company’s sysadmins. As superheroes of our work world, here are four things sysadmins do that contribute invisible value to our businesses:
1. Fight cybercrime.
In 2020, cybercrime events were up significantly compared to previous years. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center’s 2020 Internet Crime Report found that complaints of suspected internet crime increased 69% compared to 2019. But, for many of us, cybersecurity didn’t impact our productivity. This is due in large part to the efforts of our sysadmins.
According to my company’s 2021 Sysadmin Survey, 68% of sysadmin respondentsfound the increased risk of cybersecurity attacks in relation to remote work was the top challenge they faced in 2020 — but they still kept the majority of us protected from exposure. This is likely because sysadmins work exhaustive hours and pivot quickly to respond to organizational needs. In fact, we found that 29% focused more on cybersecurity during the pandemic than before.
2. Ensure business continuity.
Maintaining employee productivity and minimizing network and system downtime are the top charters of a sysadmin, and at no time have they been put more to the test than in 2020. When employees were sent home to work, literally overnight, it was the sysadmins that had to figure out how to source and ship enough devices to their home-based workers, deliver seamless application and data access, secure home networks and support a dispersed and largely technically untrained workforce to keep business moving.
3. Protect users from themselves.
One of the top ways sysadmin superheroes quietly deliver business value is to protect users, and business networks, from unintentional internal threats. This challenge was dramatically exacerbated as users shifted to remote work. Now users had access to business data from within their own home, using home networks and personal computers that could expose sensitive information to other family members and beyond.
It was the sysadmin that helped to shore up this exposure. Using tools for visibility and monitoring, training employees on best practices and instilling policies to control data access, they somehow kept the majority of our systems secure. Even so, our report found that a large portion of sysadmin respondents wished users would refrain from clicking on suspicious links.
4. Answer the IT “Batphone.”
With remote work, our hours of work have changed. According to an SHRM report, nearly 70% of professionals who transitioned to remote work say they now work on weekends, and 45% say they regularly work more hours during the week. And during these extended hours, who’s expected to be on call to support employees’ technical needs? The sysadmin. They’re our technical lifeline when things don’t go as planned. That’s likely why many reported increased workloads during the pandemic, even while they faced reduced budgets and reduced IT staff.
So, the next time you see your sysadmin, applaud their hard work during this unprecedented time. When systems are up and running and security incidents are prevented, it’s easy to forget that it takes significant effort for sysadmins to deliver this seamless experience. But, without their quiet, invisible support, we’d likely have faced even more considerable security threats and downtime.
Give them a break. Stop clicking on those suspicious links or attachments, don’t put your passwords on a sticky note by your computer, and think twice before you contact them at all hours of the night — even superheroes need their sleep.