Daniel Lemire's blog

, 5 min read

How will the pandemic impact software programming jobs?

4 thoughts on “How will the pandemic impact software programming jobs?”

  1. Ludovic Pénet says:

    In my current company, we kept hiring developers, experienced or not. And we successfully integrated them. And we continue to hire.

    So, it definitely is possible. It seems to me that it highly depends on the team culture. If everyone is remote friendly, if you have all the tools needed (some chat software like slack, some video software like zoom, etc.), it just works. Since March 2020, I went two days at my former desk at my company. Two (2) days. Yet, we delivered new features, etc.

    In a typical day of work, the colleague I will interact with the most will typically be a TSE in Toronto I like to chat with. A person having a 6 hours time difference, and that I will see IRL maybe once a year…
    But I have been convinced for a very long time that it is possible. I had a lot of social experience online starting in 1995. I met a tremendous lot of people this way. Very different people, from very different backgrounds. I feel good this way. This is not the same for everyone.

    The COVID had this benefit : make fulltime remoting for software developers (and other similar crafts, like sysadmin, architecture, field engineering, etc.) an obvious choice. Free software developers knew it for a long time…

    A colleague had however a nice expression. There are two different things:

    working remotely ;
    never meeting each other.

    Having meaningful time on a regular basis would be great. I bet it will come.

    Professional meetings should also be organized “as much as required”. In my experience, there can be some weeks of intensive IRL exchanges. And months of normal relations that can go fully online. Cost should not be an issue, as a company can afford ponctual accomodation of someone it does not have to let expensive office space for.

    So, well, it is a cultural change… for some people. As all cultural changes, it will be difficult… for some. But the benefits are also real. No more daily commuting. No more overexpensive housing. An ability to hire anyone from everywhere (but being on the same time still is important), that will open new opportunities.

    I find it great and I do not see a reduction of hirings. For developers, companies accept just everything. But even those who were forced to go full remote, because developers just no longer all live next to your office, are happy of this change now, I think.

  2. My experience has been a little different. Although good programmers can tell who can code and who cannot, managers and bad programmers can’t. They try to measure code by metrics like lines, commits, files etc. Then they try to measure quality by releases, bugs discovered, bug fixes, tests (written by the same coders).

    What they end up with is sprawling code bases with massive structural duplication, where bugs get geometrically harder to fix with each new feature glommed onto the base.

    I have been repeatedly ignored during the architecture and design phases, and then pushed to rush code out the door in the end phases, when my predictions have been proven right. And then the next project starts out late, and the process starts again.

    Long story short – I get edged out the door and they have almost exclusively young, naive programmers, and I predict that releases will continue to be late and poor quality – but at least they will not have a “nay sayer” telling them they are doing it the hard way.

    1. There are some contexts where the quality of the software is not relevant, in the sense that if it is poor, then the organization will not lose money. In such cases, there is no selective pressure on the quality of the programmers. There is also no pressure upward on the salaries.

  3. Hester P. says:

    I’m sure you don’t have to worry about it because digital tools are becoming more popular every day. Last year, our company didn’t care about employee monitoring software. But today, we have a few of them, including https:/zoom.us/, https:/www.atlassian.com/software/jira. https:/www.worktime.com/employee-monitoring, and more. 2020 is a year for the employee monitoring software, best believe.