InfoQ Culture and Method Trends Report

Key points to remember

  • Hybrid working requires careful redesign and reassessment of the workplace and will be a significant challenge in the future
  • Culture matters more than ever as people reassess their options for workplaces and styles
  • Team topologies and being deliberate about team formation are aspects of culture design that can drive better outcomes
  • The gaps between good and bad workplaces are widening and people are voting with their feet (or video conferencing cameras)
  • Leadership styles and approaches must evolve to meet the needs of today’s teams and individuals
  • Pay attention to physical and mental well-being issues and cannot be treated as an afterthought
  • The InfoQ Culture & Methods Trends Report – March 2022 podcast is also available

This year’s trends report is certainly the most pessimistic we have seen in the past decade. Some trends we saw last year ran into obstacles and roadblocks and some early cultural hits backed off.

Many of the points we made in last year’s Trends Report are still true, and unfortunately there hasn’t been much movement in topics to the left of the technology adoption curve. . 2021 has been a year of consolidation, massive movement of people and increased pressure on already tired teams.

Overcome hybrid hell

The biggest theme coming in 2022 is hybrid working, the mix of in-office and remote working that has the potential to become the worst of both worlds. So far, very few organizations have figured out how to make hybrid work and we don’t see it improving much in the short term. Unfortunately, there are very few good hybrids out there and figuring out what it looks like will be something that will take a long time.

On a positive note, a few organizations are deliberately tackling hybrid challenges and addressing them through a thorough redesign of their office environments as collaborative spaces.

Another very early trend is the adoption of immersion VR for remote collaboration – a few early adopters are experimenting with virtual reality and the tools are improving to the point of becoming useful for pair, team, and larger group collaboration events.

We still see a strong divide between the good remote and the bad remote, and in conjunction with the bad remote, we see some organizations implementing a forced return to the office strategy, causing them to lose good people in the big resignation.

Make culture visible

Some organizations actively work to make their culture tangible and visible through the use of cultural manuals. High performers realize that it’s not just about writing things down, everyone in the organization needs to actively live the values ​​they espouse in the handbook – employees know when it’s just lip service and become disillusioned and unmotivated.

Team topologies are gaining traction

Innovative and early adopter organizations are carefully considering how they design their organizational structures, using team topologies as a guide to enable more effective collaboration. Where this is happening, we are seeing a glimmer of hope around effective hybrid working and a slow push towards more humanistic workplaces. There are examples and patterns emerging to help show possible ways forward.

Computer withdrawal

The past two years have taken their toll on every organization, and the IT teams that have invested so much in keeping their businesses running and adapting to the massive changes around them are tired and disillusioned. Burnout is at an all-time high, especially among security teams. One of the impacts of fatigued teams is weaker collaboration, especially in large enterprises where there has traditionally been a divide between business and IT. We see many IT teams fall back on “order taking” mode – tell us your needs and we’ll build exactly what you ask for. This lack of collaboration and withdrawal from engagement with “the business” results in dissatisfied stakeholders, disadvantaged users and customers, and generally poorer products.

The gap between good and bad workplaces is widening

The chasm between good and bad workplaces is much more evident and visible today. Toxic workplaces increase as more and more organizations adopt humanistic practices. We see strong contrasts with fewer organizations falling in the middle.

Facilitation is a key skill

In 2021, we identified the need for facilitation skills for leaders and teams. In 2022, this has become even more important. Each member of a team must be able to step in and facilitate both in person and remotely when needed. The range of facilitation skills needed today is also wider – not only to lead an in-person workshop, but also to create engaging experiences using remote tools and in the hybrid space, ensuring that remote attendees don’t feel left out or sidelined and ensuring attendees feel safe to engage. These are skills that can be learned and must be actively worked on.

An important aspect of good facilitation today is familiarity and proficiency with the range of remote collaboration tools, and this ecosystem is constantly becoming more complex and confusing.

The direction must change

In the post-COVID, remote and hybrid world, the leadership skills that have enabled success before must expand and adapt. Creating environments where people can thrive, where differences are celebrated, and where the focus is on results, not results, means developing a different set of leadership skills at all levels of the organization.

Diversity and inclusion are important

Diversity in all its aspects matters today – not just because diverse teams perform better, but because it’s the right thing to do, to create fairer workplaces and a fairer society as a whole. . the tendencies over the past couple of years we’ve moved away from diversity in the workplace, and that’s something we need to address as an industry. Today, almost all teams are intercultural and we must learn to collaborate better by understanding each other. Remote work provides opportunities to embrace more diversity and potentially enables disadvantaged people to engage more effectively in the workforce.

Mindfulness, well-being and mental health

Coming out of the pandemic, mental and physical well-being is something we must continue to focus on and support. There is growing recognition that mental health issues can and should be discussed in the workplace, helping to reduce some of the prejudice and stigma people experience when dealing with wellness. mental. Mindfulness and wellness programs are gaining momentum as organizations recognize the need to support their employees more holistically.

Low-code/no-code opportunities and threats

Low-code and no-code tools are both an opportunity and a risk for organizations. Ownership of a responsible team and Low Code/No Code engineering is necessary to avoid the security risks and technical debt introduced by Low Code integrations. DevOps in no/low code environments is a challenge The low barrier to entry and time to debt for ad hoc low code solutions is something that needs to be managed carefully.

Ethical behavior matters

The software industry faces thorny issues and ethical challenges in developing complex software systems and their management is part of a larger social, economic and environmental fabric. Ethical decisions can be difficult and ethical training is still absent from most software engineering courses and many self-taught engineers have never even considered the subject. We need to step up as individuals and as an industry to make sure the products we make are about making the world better, not making it worse.

Developer training is changing

The 2020 World Economic Forum Report on the Future of Jobs predicts that data and software engineering roles will continue to be in high demand. In response to this, we find that engineering education is undergoing a major shift and departure from the traditional university model. With the rise of bootcamps and massively open online classrooms, a study 2021 showed that graduates of shorter skills-based courses had better employment rates than those graduating from Ivy League programs.

the 2020 Coding Bootcamp Alumni Results and Demographics Report showed that bootcamp graduates outperformed college graduates in terms of employment outcomes, as well as increased representation by gender and ethnicity. The Harvard Gazette also reported a academic panel discussion of how online courses were addressing the demographic imbalance of those entering STEM careers. Bougierefox blogged about how organizations like New Zealand’s all-remote Developers Institute are tackling gender imbalance by marketing an engineering pathway that doesn’t include traditional gender biases.

Listen to the Trend Report discussion on the InfoQ Engineering Culture Podcast

The Culture & Methods editorial team met remotely to discuss these trends and we recorded our discussion as a podcast. You can listen to the discussion and get a sense of the thinking behind these trends.

Upcoming events QCon 2022

QCon, the international software development conference, returns (in-person and online) in 2022.

QCon brings together the world’s most innovative senior software engineers across multiple fields to share their real-world implementation of emerging trends and practices.

Find hands-on inspiration (not product walkthroughs) from software leaders deeply rooted in building software, scaling architectures, and honing their technical leadership to help you make the right decisions.

Attend in person at QCon London (April 4-6) or online at QCon Plus (May 10-20).

Helen D. Jessen