No industry has been untouched by the COVID-19 pandemic, least of all software development. Like those in so many other fields, technology professionals quickly had to pivot and learn how to do their jobs successfully through unprecedented circumstances. It was a challenge of epic proportions — and one that is showing no signs of disappearing anytime soon.
But in some ways, the pandemic has been instructive. From managing distributed teams to trying new approaches and methodologies, software development has emerged with a number of lessons on how to move forward, more innovatively and consciously.
1. Support from Management Is Paramount
New research shows that software companies that support their employees by, for example, listening to what they have to say and encouraging breaks and “hard stops” contribute to both employee well-being and productivity.
Moreover, management can introduce and make use of communication and collaboration tools to enable their employees to succeed under challenging circumstances.
2. Remote Work Is Possible — Now and Beyond
We have seen remote workers of every stripe persist through some of the most chaotic conditions we’ve ever seen. Software developers proved that no matter where they work — whether from home or in the office — they can continue to build quality products.
As many businesses consider whether to reopen their doors and bring employees back into the office, different scenarios are emerging as viable options. Many organizations are embracing hybrid models, recognizing that software developers don’t need to be in the office at all times to do hard work.
3. Collaboration Is Essential
Early on in the pandemic, Gartner emphasized the importance of relying on technology that promotes collaboration among employees. Of course, this is important in the software world, where teams must work together frequently. And developers also play a critical role in facilitating collaboration for other professionals across industries, too, as the ones who are tasked with building these tools.
While collaboration has always been important, the pandemic has only underscored the need for close contact and communication in the development world.
4. The Hiring Process Is Reconceptualized
Before the pandemic, interviews often took place on site, face to face, even in the technology industry. But hiring managers were forced to seek out alternatives when in-person interviews were no longer an option.
Once again, software developers played a critical role in reconceptualizing and making virtual interviews possible, quickly building and improving platforms to facilitate communication. Going forward, we will more than likely see virtual interviews become the new norm, in the software space and beyond.
5. Productivity Continues — and Even Increases — During the Global Pandemic
In pre-pandemic times, many feared that remote work would cause productivity to suffer among workers. The reverse is actually true — many studies show that across industries, remote work results in greater productivity.
In fact, a survey by Accelerated Strategies Group showed that productivity in software development actually increased at the onset of the pandemic. Despite the difficult circumstances, many developers rallied and were eager to prove that they could perform optimally through uncertainty.
6. Crisis Management Must Be a “Before” Strategy
The pandemic taught many industries that foresight and planning are crucial. There must always be a contingency plan in place.
The field of software development has always depended on strategizing to prevent problems from derailing the process. Gathering requirements — in other words, establishing clear outcomes — is an obvious example of this. In order to ensure that a crisis doesn’t become insurmountable, crisis management must mirror these efforts, informing businesses about how they will proceed in case the worst should happen.
This also applies to product conceptualization and design. While nobody can predict precisely what will happen, software development teams should use data to create informed strategies to build software that the market needs and wants.
7. Transparency Will Help Software Development Businesses Weather the Storm
Many avoidable issues occur because of a lack of clear communication, trust, and transparency. Bringing these qualities back to the forefront of the development process will help businesses persist, despite the challenges they are facing.
For example, software development companies should be open and honest with clients about how timelines might be affected in light of challenges. Meanwhile, developers must communicate with team members, including project managers and QA specialists, about how the project is going and what they need from one another.
8. Employees Have Valuable Insights
One resource that became invaluable during the pandemic was software developers themselves. While managers continued to direct efforts, tapping into the perspectives of employees has proved useful in allowing businesses to persist. Their ideas have always had merit, but during a time of great uncertainty, open conversations and brainstorming are especially important.
9. Software Development Continues to Play a Critical Role in Economic — and General — Recovery
Many people across different industries lost their jobs during this extraordinarily difficult period. But software developers and IT professionals saw an uptick in employment prospects and roles in the early months of the pandemic.
What became clear immediately was that technology would play a fundamental role in keeping people productive and working, as well as pushing forward economic recovery. From creating communication tools to facilitating remote work through integrated platforms and software, developers continue to have a vital responsibility toward their peers in every industry.
The past year and a half have brought numerous challenges to the world of software development. Moving forward, the industry must learn from both its failures and successes. There will be difficulties in the future, but the lessons developers take away from the pandemic will allow them to persist in spite of them.