Per Forbes, the distributed workforce is here to stay. Over half of Americans now work either full-time or part-time from somewhere that isn’t an office. We can only expect that number to keep growing, and while other countries haven’t jumped into fully remote work quite as quickly as the United States, the global trends are undoubtedly headed in the same direction.
But with a distributed workforce comes communication challenges, and 2020 certainly taught us a lot about what works and what doesn’t for keeping DevOps teams aligned and functioning when everyone is working from different locations, time zones, networks, and systems.
The Importance of Automation
Although it was something we were already learning pre-pandemic, 2020 drove home the importance of automation, especially around asynchronous workflows. Being able to share workflows and work together even as other team members are sleeping is key to keeping remote teams running smoothly.
That said, video-conferencing technology is clearly still evolving. Video calls work well for small teams but still post a challenger for larger DevOps teams that need to collaborate regularly.
Automation is also the way forward with software testing. Manual testing simply won’t work when it comes to simulating loads with thousands of users across vastly distributed systems.
Tribal Knowledge Issue Resolved?
Despite the clear communication-related challenges of a fully remote team, remote work has the potential to improve software in a meaningful way.
One of the things that tends to plague many software companies is” tribal knowledge”, or the lack of knowledge sharing or knowledge storing around key products and processes. There are many things not written down around code that then leave the company when the employee who invented them leaves.
Distributed workforces have the potential to resolve this issue by forcing DevOps teams to become far more prescriptive when it comes to writing test bases, writing automation, and writing down philosophies and design patterns.
Agility and Reliance on Online Tools
As workforces get more distributed, the more information agile teams can record and provide to resolve any issue, the better off they are, but that means adopting the technologies that allow them to record their knowledge. It can be hard to change the way DevOps teams operate if they’ve been using whiteboards and post-its for decades.
For this reason, DevOps teams need to be able to adapt to modern, agile team models and use the tools available to them that allow them to track and share what they’ve done.
Related Panel Discussion: 4 BIG Software App Challenges For FinServ
This past May, Bob Kemper, VP of Worldwide Engineering at OverOps, and Anders Wallgren, VP of Technology Strategy at CloudBees took part in a panel discussion on the 4 BIG Software App Challenges For FinServ. In part 4, the two discuss the challenges of a distributed workforce: