I often wonder, What would have happened if everything remained the same, if there was no pandemic, if there was no radical change in the way we work? Would anything have changed, would we have been prepared to embrace a new paradigm?
I very much doubt it. We are creatures, that, while we claim to enjoy change and are great supporters of change, we abhor change and will delay it to the point where it is the only course of action we can take.
The thing about the pandemic is that it forced change upon us, without warning, without due consideration and the only way to survive was to embrace the change.
For those who could not see the opportunity in the pandemic to redefine their perception of the world to seek new business models, they would become the unsung victims of the pandemic, or as they say “collateral” damage.
Against this backdrop the IT field seemed to prosper, to quickly adapt to the situation and to seemingly prosper. But soon enough the cracks began to appear and productivity dropped, communication flagged and where once there were teams now there were only islands.
The scenario I have painted above is one where the work at home paradigm has been left unchecked and gone to the extreme. I believe that the problem stemmed from the fact that IT had been for years looking for a way to work from home while employers, who believed that the only way a person could be productive was to be in an office where they could be monitored, were reluctant to change
The problem lies in the fact that software development is a social activity and the one thing we never considered is how to maintain the social connectivity.
We were under the belief that the products that have become ubiquitous to communications would fill the gap of face to face communications. What has transpired instead, is a migration from full video communication, to audio only connections, cutting out a significant amount of communication queues which instead of bringing us closer, serves to widen the widen the gap.
One way is to mandate a face-to-face meeting, following the obvious protocols under the circumstances, to rebuild the human connection between the teams. This seems to overcome the “gap” that seems to develop when electronic forms of communication are used exclusively.
Regular check-ins and reinforcement of the end goal, moving from individual feature development to joint feature development are all ways to promote the communication between team members and prevent the team from fragmenting into islands.
Software development like all other professions has to rise up and meet the challenge of the new work paradigm, lest it follows in the wake of those who failed to change.
by Mo Hassem