The way we all work has changed--permanently.
According to the Harvard Business Review, the pandemic has only accelerated a trend that was already gathering steam with knowledge work companies around the globe. Work-from-anywhere, or WFA, was already becoming prevalent at firms across industries, from IT to global consulting.
Of course, some industries were better prepared for the swift changes the pandemic demanded than others. The software development industry, for example, has embraced remote work for years, not to mention several other trends that have become far more prevalent in 2020--digital services delivery, for example.
In fact, the software dev industry can serve as an illustrative example of where work, in general, is heading in 2021 and the post-pandemic future. Here are a few practices, standard in IT and software development, that we can all benefit from as our organizations emerge from the disruptions of 2020.
1. Embracing an agile mindset and Agile methodologies.
If there was ever a case to be made for the importance of agility in business--both with a lowercase "a" and uppercase "A"--2020 was it.
The need for agility in business, both at an organizational level and an individual, employee level, is clear. Companies must be able to adapt to the circumstances around them, whether that's needing to go to a full-remote workforce within a span of days, or changing a product that's not performing.
In terms of capital-A Agile, a model based on Agile processes (as in the Agile methodology) allows teams to pivot the product and service offerings as needed and address obstacles quickly.
Agile is the framework that many software companies have used for years, as it's uniquely suited to the kind of iterative, highly collaborative work that goes into creating new software or a mobile app.
However, Agile processes can be applied to many different industries and sectors, to improve workflows and communication, and to increase a team's ability to react swiftly to problems as they arise.
One web and mobile custom software development company, Gorilla Logic, employs Agile teams to help its clients develop their products with a minimum of back-and-forth. By embracing full transparency--another benefit of the Agile methodology--Gorilla Logic's outsourced development teams are able to work seamlessly with their clients' in-house teams.
2. A more thoughtful approach to outsourcing: nearshoring.
Nearshoring, as opposed to offshoring, involves the contracting of outsourced teams closer to a company's headquarters. For American companies, this usually means Latin America.
The benefits of nearshore teams are many, from better English language skills, to cultural affinity, to negligible time zone differences. But in a post-pandemic world, nearshore teams stand to become even more critical to a company's success.
For one thing, in 2020 businesses realized the cost and time savings that come with drastically reducing, and in many cases eliminating, business travel. As businesses do begin to step back into a world of business travel and site visits, companies located close to home will present a much more appealing option than those that require a day of flights in order to reach.
Mexico and Central America are home to firms that regularly contract with American companies for everything from customer service to IT. That same firm, Gorilla Logic, for example, has nearshoring centers in Costa Rica and Colombia, allowing its clients to take advantage of services from employees who are fluent in English and work the same hours as they themselves do. And a simple Google search for "nearshore software development" yields hundreds of firms that offer the same benefits.
3. An increased focus on customization and quality customer experience.
An increasingly high level of customization is becoming the standard for everything from software development to the retail experience.
That's why digital marketing is taking an ever more personalized approach to meeting customers where they are and giving them exactly what they're looking for.
For businesses developing products and delivering services, customization is key--in fact, it's customization and quality that are becoming the driving forces for customer experiences in 2021.
This only stands to reason, as the vast majority of customers were pushed online into digital experiences in 2020, often for businesses that had no digital offerings until the pandemic hit.
Software companies have had a front-row seat to just how vital a personalized customer experience is for their clients, with countless companies needing mobile apps, online portals, and other digital products to continue serving customers in the past year. Businesses in every industry need to take this lesson to heart in 2021, as no customer is going to be ready to give up the conveniences of a digital experience they've gotten so used to.
As 2021 continues, we'll begin to see just how permanent some of these changes to our work lives are. Some, surely, will change in shape, as many of us seek a more equal balance between the camaraderie of an office and the increased convenience and productivity of working remotely. Others, like the need for agility and customized experiences, will only grow in importance.