With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing a huge chunk of the workforce into working from home, a lot of individuals are asking us whether they can do software development remotely. The short answer is, “Yes, you can.” Around 12% of developers worldwide have already been under some sort of remote working arrangement before the spread of COVID-19 occurred, so there is already a precedent for this trend.
However, it’s not as simple as sending developers their company-assigned laptops with all the tools they need to code. Doing software development from home requires a change in culture. We have summarized these changes into the “two T’s”:
1) Tools. If your software development business relies heavily on proprietary platforms, the transition to working from home will be slow and painful, especially if they depend heavily on Internet access. Connecting to a VPN alone can be a challenging task that takes a lot of time that could otherwise be used productively.
Switching over to open-source tools, such as GitHub or Azure DevOps for code version control, can help improve productivity and speed up application development times. Using collaboration tools like Slack has also allowed large companies like IBM, which previously relied on a proprietary messaging platform, to keep in touch with employees who work from home.
2) Transparency. One of the common complaints of software developers who transition from an office-based setup to a remote working arrangement was the mutual lack of trust and transparency between remote workers and their office-based counterparts. Before COVID-19, working from home was seen as either a contingency plan or a privilege, with companies bragging that their employees can code anywhere, even while they’re on the beach, which created an even bigger divide between the two groups.
With social distancing rules likely to be enforced even after the infection curve has flattened, software development businesses have to face this divide head-on. They need to trust that their developers will be able to finish their assigned tasks, even without daily check-ins.
It looks like doing software development from home will be the norm for at least the next couple of years. Businesses need to transform the way they do things to ensure operational effectiveness, even if their developers no longer literally report to the workplace.