The COVID-19 pandemic has taken the world by storm and the software industry hasn’t been exempt from its effects.
It’s been over a year since then, so every tech company has had time to react, adjust, analyze the situation, and start planning forward.
This post is based on research data from the State of Software Development 2021 report. Here, I aim to take a close look at the findings, the perception of the current situation, and what might be coming next.
How has the pandemic affected your company?
The data shows that over half of the tech companies were not affected by the pandemic, or its negative and positive impacts evened out. On top of this, only slightly more companies experienced mostly negative effects than the ones that say they went through positive changes.
According to the data, about one in three tech companies was forced to downsize because of the pandemic.
Is remote work allowed at your company?
The biggest change brought about by the pandemic is the even more widely spread implementation of remote work across the board. Currently, almost every company allows (or expects) employees to work remotely.
We’ve seen the acceptance of remote work increasing over the past few years, but now it’s everywhere in the software industry.
Remote work isn’t just a momentary effect of the pandemic, but it’s here to stay.
Only about 16% of tech companies plan to switch back fully to working on-site. Over 60% of companies will switch to working with hybrid teams split between on-site and remote employees.
What challenges has the pandemic added to your daily work?
1. Difficulties with communication
The majority of the participants mentioned that the forced remote environment has made communication more difficult, causing a wide array of issues. Here are the most common occurrences:
- Lack of water cooler conversations
- Increased overhead in communication
- Asynchronous communication
- More meetings
The lack of personal touch in a remote environment decreased employee retention at many companies, beyond making the day-to-day work more monotonous and less fun.
Not being able to walk over and talk to a colleague also increased overhead on technical discussions, and minor issues often don’t even make it to discussions. This has made additional meetings necessary, which takes extra time away from software engineers doing focused work.
Overall, remote communication has plenty of room for improvement.
2. Work-life balance
Many participants mentioned that working from home has made separating personal life from work difficult.
Many people in the industry have trouble focusing on work with many distractions going on at home that they don’t have to deal with at the office. Others say working extra hours has become regular.
It can turn into a vicious cycle where you have trouble focusing, so you end up putting in extra hours and taking less rest, which causes you to have less focus again.
3. More stress, burnout, and depression
Slower and often lower quality communication, the lack of human interaction, and difficulties with work-life balance in themselves cause extra stress. On top of these, the pandemic creates a lot of uncertainty everywhere.
This has led to depression and burnout becoming more widespread issues. They may still be less visible in a remote environment because you only talk to your colleagues during meetings, as opposed to being around them all day in the office.
To sum it up: while the software industry did take a hit from the COVID-19 situation, there seem to be new opportunities opening up as well, so it’s far from being a fatal blow.
However, the remote environment has created new challenges in communication, which force software companies and the people in it to improve standards and be more deliberate about communication. In theory, it’s solved, but the less obvious human connections and needs require further fine-tuning. It’s especially important because remote work is here to stay.
Previously published at https://codingsans.com/blog/software-development-trends?lsrc=meetupfeed
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