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When Joe Gallo, vice-president and chief technology officer at Cox Interactive Media Inc., goes to work, he heads upstairs to an Atlanta loft with a lounge, ping-pong table, refrigerators with soft drinks and – important when there’s a looming deadline – free coffee.

Things have come a long way since Gallo began his career at Electronic Data Systems Corp., at a time when that company had just started allowing employees to wear striped shirts.

“Even a major company like EDS is business casual now, and they’re all IT,” Gallo says.

Now that corporations have fully embraced technology and the need to compete for skilled technologists, the way in which IT professionals work is undergoing a variety of changes.

Despite the closing of dot-coms in massive scale, those companies have had a dramatic impact on the perks that IT workers are offered, on the access to technology that workers across the board can enjoy and on the environment that companies provide for them. But there is some disagreement emerging on whether the changes are for the better or worse.

IT professionals are often dressed in jeans and focusing on business basics – many times from the comfort of their own homes. But some ask, in the face of high pressure and short deadlines, whether such trends actually threaten to derail future progress or the image of the IT worker.

“The change started to occur with the era of client/server,” says Neil Fox, vice-president and CIO at Cleveland-based Management Recruiters International Inc. “Then the Internet changed everything. People realized that you could actually create an application and deploy it in less than 12 months.”

Many would argue that an increased emphasis on business could only do a world of good. But not all IT professionals see every change hitting the technical workplace as positive. Pressures on businesses have extended to technology groups. Deadlines continue to become shorter as companies want increasing benefits with faster turnaround, and technologists are being held accountable for providing results.

“In the old days, I had a lifetime contract,” says Tracy Amabile, a partner in human resources for management consulting at PriceWaterhouseCoopers. “Now, there’s a focus on how do I become more employable, not how do I stay employed.”

Despite the slowdown in the economy, job hopping has become the norm for IT professionals. Having a number of previous employers on a r