- Submissions Due: 12 September 2022
- Final Version Due: 1 December 2022
Publication: March/April 2023
Since the global pandemic emerged in early 2020, there has been a dramatic rise in remote and hybrid work, first driven by necessity and law due to the pandemic, but now due to preference. It is also clear that remote work is not something that will dissipate as the pandemic disappears. A recent survey of 1,380 software developers found that only 3% indicate they plan to return to the office full time, 25% will remain fully remote in a post-COVID world, and 56% favor a hybrid approach, returning to the office regularly but not daily. Companies like Facebook, Twitter, Square, Shopify, and Slack have established policies of long- term or even permanent working from home. Therefore, many software development environments are, and will increasingly be, hybrid workplaces – where developers in the same teams and organizations will work from home, others from the traditional office and others in some combination of the two.
We believe that now is the perfect time for a special issue on this topic, as the worst of the pandemic is (hopefully) behind us and we can now examine the long term impact on the nature of software development.
First, little is known about the coordination of software development in these hybrid work contexts. Even before the pandemic, coordination has been identified as a critical challenge, particularly given the increasing complexity and scale of modern software development activity. While hybrid work creates many benefits and opportunities, it has also created some communication and coordination problems such as synchronisation of co-located and remote developers, clarity of meetings and collaborative work, increases in the frequency and length of meetings, cancellation of planned meetings. There is evidence that these coordination issues are having significant negative or at least questionable, unknown effects on productivity, software quality and release delays and that use of traditional pre-pandemic coordination mechanisms.
Second, contemporary software development methods such as agile and flow were designed for co-located, on-site teams, or at the very least distributed development in a controlled office setting rather than large scale WFH. It is clear that remote and hybrid work breaks the fundamental assumptions of methods from the pre-hybrid era, where most assume the team is collocated or at least distributed across offices specifically equipped with communication technology. Therefore we need to consider new methods or at least how existing methods are tailored to enable effective coordination in a hybrid context.
Third, it is even more important to examine the impact of hybrid work in large scale development where coordination and complexity was a challenge even prior to the pandemic. Methods that were designed for single teams of five to nine developers are now used in projects with tens of teams, hundreds or even thousands of developers, which can involve integration with hundreds of existing systems and affect thousands of users. Hybrid work poses many more questions and complexities at such scale.
Fourth, while it is clear that hybrid development brings some opportunities for improved health and well-being, the results are somewhat mixed and the ability to establish fair work structures that do not handicap any portion of the workforce will be critical. To date, little research has been conducted on the impact of hybrid development on equality and well-being, and clear guidelines for the design and evaluation of work structures in software engineering are needed.
Finally, there are many discussion threads emerging through blogs, tracks at workshops and conferences, and pop up events (e.g. the theme of the XP 2022 conference is “ Agile in the Era of Hybrid Work”). All are suggesting new ways of working in a hybrid environment. However, despite these events there is to date very little research-based knowledge or description that provides relevant, evidence-based guidance for practice. We want to ensure that a constructive but critical approach is taken, where we question the assumption that hybrid development requires a completely new set of methods, tools and ways of thinking.
This special issue will address these gaps. We expect that readers will learn about key topics investigated so far in the hybrid work literature, how central assumptions in traditional development such as co-location break when using them in a hybrid environment, how to tailor methods to a hybrid context, and how central aspects like architectural work, customer involvement, coordination and knowledge can be managed in a hybrid setting. We will invite papers covering any aspect of software development in a hybrid world including, but not limited to:
- Identification of challenges and associated recommendations for effective hybrid software development
- New methods and tools for hybrid software development
- How to effectively adapt to existing methods (e.g. agile, flow, DevOps, continuous development) for hybrid development
- Methods for responsible development in a hybrid context
- How to adapt coordination practices such as daily stand-up meetings and collaboration practices such as pair programming to a hybrid context.
- Critical perspectives that challenge assumptions re the need for completely new methods and tools for hybrid development
- New or adapted metrics for hybrid work
- Examining how hybrid, co-located and fully remote teams can coexist in the same organization
- Frameworks for handling hybrid work in large scale agile development e.g., SAFe, LeSS, Nexus, and scrum@scale, DevOps)
- Impact of hybrid work on contemporary issues such as diversity, stress and well-being
- Examination of how central aspects of development like architectural work, testing work and customer involvement are changing or need to change in a hybrid context
- Recruitment and onboarding in hybrid teams or teams that work from anywhere
This special issue will provide research-based advice to practitioners, based on solid rigorous research. We expect that readers will learn about key topics investigated so far in the hybrid work literature, how central assumptions in traditional development such as co-location break when using them in a hybrid environment, how to tailor methods and tools to a hybrid context, and how central aspects like architectural work, customer involvement, coordination and knowledge can be managed in a hybrid setting.
For author information and guidelines on submission criteria, please visit IEEE Software‘s Author Information page. Please submit papers through the ScholarOne system, and be sure to select the special-issue name. Manuscripts should not be published or currently submitted for publication elsewhere. Please submit only full papers intended for review, not abstracts, to the ScholarOne portal.
Please contact the guest editors at email@example.com.
- Viktoria Stray
- Nils Brede Moe
- Kieran Conboy
- Jan Henrik Gundelsby