Welcome to The Long View—where we peruse the news of the week and strip it to the essentials. Let’s work out what really matters.
This week: Working from home is here to stay, and Agile is still a failure.
1. WFH: 25–30% Will Be New Normal?
First up this week: 30% of all working days in the U.S. are still at home. That’s down from its peak of 60% in mid-2020, but still way up from the pre-pandemic position of 5%. According to the academics at WFH Research and SWAA, the curve is flattening, approaching what looks like an equilibrium.
Analysis: Be careful what you wish for
Naturally, the proportion of dev work done remotely will be higher. But some of this is the home-working component of a hybrid arrangement—often put in place for no good reason. And the danger is that remote work is usually offshorable work.
Daniel De Visé: 30% of work remains remote as workers dig in
“Logical conclusion: … No office at all”
Nearly 30 percent of all work happened at home in January, six times the rate in 2019. … In Washington and other large urban centers, the share of remote work is closer to half. In the nation’s biggest cities, entire office buildings sit empty.
Last spring, the back-to-the-office movement hit a wall, and the work-from-home population stabilized around 30 percent … Workers love it. Employers have learned to live with it.
Some economists consider the remote-work boom the greatest change to the labor market since World War II. … Some forward-thinking companies take the work-from-anywhere concept to its logical conclusion, operating with no office at all.
But a lot of it is still hybrid. And that annoys Austerity Empowers:
Where I’m at it has been somewhat more passive … resistance. We’re required to show up 3x a week, we’re constantly getting yelled at for averaging 1.5x a week. The only people who care are executive level, they’re the ones with investment portfolios that they’re worried about. Middle managers just don’t care and turn a blind eye.
There is literally no reason we’re in the office, it’s all bull****. It’s not really that the work has changed any for 10 years—it’s always been webex and slack, it’s always been spread across 6 different timezones. The only reason we kept our jobs during COVID is precisely because we can do it every bit as well from home. No projects were cancelled, no milestones were missed. Schedules haven’t changed, product timetables haven’t changed. Feature sets have, if anything, increased. The hybrid model is really code for, “I’m making my employees do a thing, but they really could WFH completely effectively.”
Some of this is driven by failed FIRE fellas, argues birdyrooster:
So all the crypto bros that retired at 25 now have to re enter the workplace and they want to do it remotely.
Why so surprised? Tony Isaac isn’t:
There are a whole lot of jobs that, 30 years ago, could not be done from home, but now can be. … Consider banking: You used to have to go into a bank to do business with the bank, to deposit checks, to open an account, to take out a loan. All of these things can be done from anywhere today.
It doesn’t seem so odd to me that many types of work don’t produce a physical thing. Technology has been making this transition possible for many decades now.
But be careful what you wish for. Thus cautions exabrial:
[Those who] want remote positions need to realize that there’s someone in another country willing to do the remote job remotely for 1/6th of the wage. My experience as of late is remote workers in India have advanced their language and professional skills greatly in the last 5-10 years.
2. Agile Sucks (Redux)
Another Agile hater has waded into the roiling waters. You loved last year’s discussion of this—it was the site’s most popular article—so here we go again.
Analysis: Agile/Scrum considered harmful
Is it the fault of Agile, or is it just lousy implementations? Who knows, but the point is there are precious few good real-world implementations, so it’s kinda moot. Agile has failed.
Michael Burnett: The age of Agile must end
“Disastrous for startups”
Agile is incompatible with UX research, design, and scalable development. It always will be. … It’s a muddy slop of burnout, tech debt, design debt, a ballooning backlog, hard-coded front-end logic, and an ever-present threat of a complete refactoring.
Note how Scrum and Agile literature makes little to no mention of research or strategy. Design got a bad rap as the lengthy time-wasting phase of Waterfall. … The Manifesto [has] devolved into something caustic for organizations.
The combination of Agile principles and Scrum practices is disastrous for startups. … Engineers are treated like machinery on an assembly line, always expected to be producing and delivering, incentivized to cut corners in order to get it “done.” … It’s all in the name of an “MVP” and time to market—this is what happens. Every. Time.
Preach. rektide sees the irony:
It’s agile forever and ever man. We are totally path dependent on this. It seems impossible to have any other idea of what we might do.
Agile is ironically one of the best indicators of fixedness on the planet. It was a simple idea that has taken root, and will never ever ever be removed.
But but but, that’s not what the sacred, holy Manifesto says! David Ziffer sounds slightly sarcastic:
Riiight, the continuous failure is never the virtuous-sounding Agile philosophy; rather it’s always the fault of everyone who’s ever tried it. Just like communism.
I spent 42 years in the business, most as a senior developer. Toward the end I spent most of my time fixing the failed products of junior developers working in Agile projects. The central problem underlying almost all their failures was bad design. I couldn’t even talk to the developers about what was wrong because they didn’t understand design concepts like “finite state machines,” “multi-threading design,” “relational database design” [or] “transactional database design.” … They had no idea what I was talking about.
Ah, the mythical “Agile done right,” eh? devmor hunts unicorn:
I … would love to try agile some day. Never worked anywhere that actually did agile though — lots of places with bits and pieces. So many scrum masters, standup meetings, T-shirt sizing, kanban … but never full agile. Starting to think it’s a myth.
The Moral of the Story:
Life is like a coin: You can spend it any way you wish, but you only spend it once
You have been reading The Long View by Richi Jennings. You can contact him at @RiCHi or [email protected].
Image: Tino Rischawy (via Unsplash; leveled and cropped)