3 min read

Workforce Issues are Everywhere [Nexus Newsletter #107]

Workforce Issues are Everywhere [Nexus Newsletter #107]

Hey friends,

Here’s where we headed and where we've been:

  1. “Green” → ESG (and the carbon flywheel)
  2. Reporting → Retrofits
  3. “You can’t build the app store before you build the iPhone”
  4. Moving interoperability up the stack and the true value of the Independent Data Layer
  5. Last Week: The emergence and synergy of advanced supervisory control and grid interaction
  6. Today: Look around - workforce issues are everywhere

Our final trend of the year: workforce issues are everywhere.

Do you know that phenomenon where once you see something, you can’t unsee it? Well, that’s what our industry’s talent shortages have become for me. This issue is intertwined with every single technology and sustainability topic we cover here at Nexus.

I heard about it over and over again in 2021:

  • “We’re at a crisis point when it comes to skillset”
  • “We can’t find the people to deliver and implement new tech”
  • “Our biggest barrier to scale is hiring talent”

Our Pro members agree. We discussed it in a member gathering in July, and 87% of them called it a crisis:

caption for image

So how can we address the crisis? I’m certainly not claiming to have this figured out! But here are three important ideas I’ve heard from experts this year that will surely help.

Workforce mini-trend #1: Make the technology simple

We can’t view workforce issues in a silo. Technology and workforce are intertwined. The technology we build and the people who deploy, maintain, and use it are a team. So we can’t forget that one way to scale technology is to lower the expertise required to implement it. We must fix the tools and fix the workforce issues at the same time.

Brian Turner, CEO of Buildings IOT recently likened it to the telecom industry. They’ve figured out how to scale their technician workforce to set up internet in every home in the US. And Brian says we can do that too with operational technology—by moving away from the concept of a “super technician”. Troy Harvey, CEO of Passive Logic, agreed. Passive Logic is laser focused on making sure ANY technician can set up a building automation system.

👉 Go deeper: Our latest white paper identifies technological complexity as just one type we must simplify.

Workforce mini-trend #2: Actively pull in outsiders

At this fall’s Realcomm IBCon conference, I watched a disappointing panel discussion between two CEOs. They described the skillsets and attributes required to get a job at their firms installing smart building technology. And they described a f*cking unicorn, my friends: “We need someone who’s an expert in HVAC, IT, project management, construction, programming, and oh yeah, we need them to be well spoken.”

We must flip this mindset. Our CEOs must take more responsibility. We can’t just poach new employees from the same pool of unicorns with 10 years of experience. We need more entry level jobs with advancement paths to get to unicorn status.

👉 Go deeper:

Workforce mini-trend #3: Align with the greater tech industry

If we want to attract outsiders, we need to align our technology with the greater tech industry. Newcomers look at BACnet like it’s a dinosaur and ask questions like, “Where’s the REST API?”

That also means aligning with each other by open-sourcing common efforts. Our history is full of companies building the exact same integration drivers, sequences, ontologies, FDD rules, etc in proprietary silos. That’s a huge tax and removing it is a way to free up all the unicorns for more impactful work.

👉 Go deeper: Jon McFarlane on an open source building operating system

What workforce trends are we missing here?

—James

P.S. Our Foundations course is designed to tackle one small slice of the workforce crisis: industry onboarding. Sign up here for the course waitlist and we’ll tell you all about it.