How Covid-19 is reshaping software development

Damilola Adeyeye
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November 13, 2021
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How COVID-19 Is Reshaping Software Development

Unlike many other sectors, the software development industry has grown incredibly since COVID-19 struck. More people have worked remotely than ever before. My mom knows how to setup a Zoom call - who woulda have thunk this possible?

We certainly have increased the time we spend on our screens each day. The rate at which businesses adopt digital technologies continues to skyrocket.

Clients we talk to that run IT departments are planning to permanently work remotely. It is fair to say Covid-19 has disrupted how we build and deliver software projects.

Ways in which COVID-19 has Reshaped Software Development

Two years ago our team all worked in a medium sized office in Lagos and if you had told me that we would all be working remotely in a few months for an extended period of time (or forever) I would have laughed hard at you. It just seemed inconceivable and I would be the first to tell you why "x simply would not work" and how it would make us less efficient.

However now that I know what I know I can't imagine of a different model of work. Here are a few things I have seen first hand that have transformed the way my team works since Covid-19 started.

1. Remote Working has Contributed to Increased Productivity

At the onset - I'm not going to lie - it was tough juggling work concerns and family concerns from the same home/work space. However we adapted - we reduced the number of meetings we had (probably because we became part-time home-school teachers).

Asynchronous work became our new mantra. We embraced tools to help track everything we did from standups using StatusHero, Slack/Teams for communication, Azure Devops to run our sprints and facilitate all project discussions.

  1. Flexibility - my work schedule changed. It started earlier. Instead of a daily commute I would check on emails, then work items due today or assigned to me, knock off small tasks so I could focus on the big tasks for the day. Then I would check on the kids, prepare breakfast, have a quick workout before getting on my first stretch of work. Some days I'm a night owl but now I control the time I work and have constant breaks in my schedule. It is not perfect but I do cherish the flexibility.
  2. Access to talent - everyone we hired previously lived in Lagos. Now we conduct interviews using Zoom calls, record them and have various folks review, we schedule online tests and coding exercises and we have hired folks from all parts of Nigeria. We are no longer limited to the talent pool in Lagos and honestly that has given us greater access to a larger pool of quality developers than we had expected. Some of our developers have moved out of Lagos to be closer to family and reduce costs.
  3. More interaction - when I was in the office I had my go-to set of folks that I would talk to, get help from, etc. I kept it small and I'm not shy but I did not go yelling "Help me!". Now if I need help I'm not shy to ask on a slack channel and I suddenly get an outpouring of helpful remarks and pointers. It goes both ways - someone asks for something I can help with and I post my response. This interaction has helped develop relationships with folks I did not think I had anything in common with and it is a good feeling to help folks when they need it.

2. Innovation is Driving Businesses Worldwide

It's like a light bulb just turned on in everyone's head and they started thinking how could we run/operate our businesses differently. You see it in everything - from QR codes for menus, to food delivery services, etc.

For us we started looking at how we could automate a lot of our internal business processes and put systems in that would help us complete tasks much faster than we did in the past.

Our onboarding process for new employees has greatly improved - it still has a way to go but we can get a new developer onboarded in a few days vs weeks - with a virtual desktop waiting for them on day 1.

3. Some Reduction in Costs and Some Increases

This one is a mixed one. Our transportation/commute costs have definitely dropped. However working from home has other costs increases as well - eg running our generator for longer periods, increased internet and bandwidth usage.

Fortunately we get assistance from our company to manage some of these costs but on the whole this area feels like a wash to me - just redirecting costs.

4. Greater access to our clients/customers

As the world has gotten more comfortable with remote work - we have seen an increase in clients reaching out to us from all over.

Some of our newer clients have only every worked in their respective cities/states and are reaching out because they now have access to expanded pool of service providers.

This has been great for business. For better or worse - we are just a Slack/Teams/Zoom call away - so we get to talk to our customers more frequently than we did in the past.

5. Increased Cloud Adoption

With everyone remote all our tools and services are in the cloud. Even our desktops - it was always easy to go to the lab to request a new laptop and/or device but with folks working everywhere and anywhere we have moved to a model that uses online desktops (VDIs).

6. More demand for Mobile Apps

Our mobile application developers and testers have been busy. Our other groups have been busy too - but every client has requested an iOS/Android mobile app to provide services/features for their customers.

This is great for us as we have an awesome mobile team and each mobile project we do we get much better at as we now have common patterns, libraries that we improve and use on subsequent projects.

7. Tons of opportunities to learn/share

I have attended more remote conferences this year than I have in the past. No expensive flights/hotel stays needed. Easier and direct access to experts and on-demand recordings of all events so I can watch the ones I would normally have missed in person.

This has increased my knowledge on a number of subjects and most of these conferences have been free during Covid-19 - I hope this is a trend that is here to stay.

Final Words

Covid-19 started out rough and while things have gotten better I am always amazed at how people come together and solve problems and this pandemic has definitely changed how we work in software development - I think personally for the better.

If there is a lesson to learn - every now and then we need to look beyond where we are and think outside the box; try unconventional solutions to problems just to see if we can have  better outcomes.

Can you imagine if our present day solutions were in place years ago. We always had the capacity to do all that we are doing now. This reminds me of the saying

necessity is the mother of invention.

Damilola Adeyeye
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Lagos, Nigeria
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