Software workloads in the COVID19 world
After coming off the back of a super hectic 2019 one of the things that I had hoped was to get some time to not be involved with any software projects while I got some mental clutter out of the way. I saw clear signs of a "bloated brain" burnout setting in so a couple of weeks ago I wrote this post explaining how I was planning on spending more time writing. I figured time and energy to write would be rather easy to come by during the coronavirus lockdown, but I was wrong, demand for high end software work has actually increased slightly for me. This meme really sums it up:
I'd like to attribute this to the author but I have no idea who that is and how that works with memes like this.
When I shared this picture with a bunch of the people I knew in the industry an interesting thing quickly emerged, all of the top software industry practitioners I know are surprisingly busy at the moment. The people I knew who were working on projects that got cancelled have mostly found themselves assigned on new projects. This may come as a surprise to some people, hence this post.
I think it really boils down to this: software now runs much the worlds critical infrastructure
The nature of the COVID19 crisis has resulted in more strain put on digital systems. Previously you'd have had a situation where people could have accessed things either online or in some other format, but now due to lockdowns and other factors people are accessing online systems like never before. From things like the EU urging Netflix to lower it's streaming rates to ease congestion on the internet to reduce congestion through to various other services straining under unprecedented high loads you can see that online services have seen massively and rapid adoption by the public. So this huge spike in demand has in turn maintained (and in some cases created) demand for people who can manage and scale these sorts of systems.
Software being critical to much infrastructure has been the case for quite some time now, however the way in which this software is worked on has changed. While "The Mother of All Demos"1 showed the possibility of collaborative remote work in 1968(!) it took much longer for this to turn into a reality for the average worker. With many modern services for collaboration and remote working being possible now a lot of knowledge workers can maintain high productivity when working from home. Perhaps the biggest change has been the ease of use of these services, at the start of my career I did a lot of remote collaboration but it was a lot harder, many of the teleconferencing systems were harder to set up for a call and collaboration platforms were more limited. GitHub, for example, didn't exist at all back then!
Also there has been a renewed interest in matters of making various processes more efficient in the supply chain space. Supply chain optimization, whether it's route planning, warehouse slotting, warehouse picking, third party logistics (3PL) have always been an interest to me, so I've had more on my plate in that space too.
Maybe once this pandemic is over I can finally have an extended break from work!