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DevOps in the remote work era: 3 challenges and opportunities
DevOps uses many of the skills that help remote teams succeed – but challenges remain. Here's how to turn three potential pitfalls into opportunities
It’s been more than six months since the pandemic forced businesses around the world to embrace remote work. Some of the most successful companies have followed the example of tech and IT teams, which have generally proven to be resilient and able to pivot with swift changes.
Many DevOps teams have been distributed or remote since long before the pandemic. Remote and on-site team members alike have routinely collaborated with remote colleagues and worked closely with offshore teams. As a result, leaders in industries of all types can learn lessons from DevOps teams that have long practiced the art of virtual collaboration.
DevOps’ focus is to establish smooth, secure, and effective performance and collaboration – that’s why companies adopt DevOps. Shifting to a virtual workplace requires many important elements of DevOps: security, quality control, collaboration, team performance, individual team member performance, governance, and compliance.
[ Want DevOps best practices? Watch the on-demand webinar: Lessons from The Phoenix project you can use today. ]
But half a year into the new world of remote work, challenges remain even for DevOps teams. The hurdles I’ve witnessed are less about technology and more about how teams manage tools and processes. Here are three common remote workplace-related challenges organizations should focus on to reach their digital transformation goals.
Human capital management (HCM) is front and center in the remote workplace. Gartner defines HCM as “the organizational need to provide specific competencies and are implemented in three categories: workforce acquisition, workforce management, and workforce optimization.”
In the time of COVID-19, it’s more difficult to get work done because developer teams are used to being co-located. DevOps helps solve this problem. DevOps helps increase productivity because it promotes collaboration.
One report found that teams that were mostly remote completed projects nearly twice as quickly as co-located teams. However, co-located teams came up with 50 percent fewer bugs than their remote counterparts.
What does this say about how we work? Remote DevOps workers need to closely monitor the quality of their work and test early and often in the development process.
DevOps offers a perfect use case on how a remote environment can work, yet many organizations have fallen short as they struggle to stay connected and keep their employees motivated and on track with their goals.
The foundation of DevOps involves removing barriers between teams, enabling them to successfully build and develop. In line with this thinking, organizations should check in on their teams often and find ways to transparently track their productivity. This will help reduce operational costs, boost productivity and efficiency, and improve user experiences.
Development teams thrive when they can work together, collaborate, and ideate. This can be easier when teams are located in a physical office. While a remote model can also enable open collaboration, it also introduces new challenges. For example, the physical office provides a definitive line between work and home. As remote work blurs that line, many dev professionals struggle to set boundaries and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Business leaders need to recognize that to achieve their digital transformation goals, their company culture must be empathetic to those on the IT team who often work around the clock. They should come up with new ways to foster self-care, encourage activities outside of work, and normalize spending time with friends and family. Coronavirus burnout is a real thing and business leaders must let their dev teams know they are seen and heard.
[ Read also: Work-from-home burnout: 3 tips to beat it. ]
Gone are the days of meeting up with peers and prospects in an expo hall. Like most of us, DevOps professionals have limited opportunities to meet new people or connect with those in their network.
But where there’s a will, there’s a way. I’ve received many notes and LinkedIn invitations from colleagues and others to meet for a virtual coffee chat, for example. Pre-pandemic, I would never have had time to meet face-to-face with as many people. But Zoom calls are free (even a 40-minute call is more than enough time for a great introduction or conversation) and provide an opportunity to network and demonstrate your skills with more people. Just be sure to do your research first, and don’t forget to send a thoughtful personal note after each meeting.
Remember: Every challenge exposes an opportunity. DevOps teams are well-positioned to overcome today’s challenges and turn them into opportunities.
[ Get exercises and approaches that make disparate teams stronger. Read the digital transformation ebook: Transformation Takes Practice. ]