Remote work solutions for software engineering teams
Digital “presenteeism”, when people “perform” presence in remote workplaces, is a massive time suck. Researchers have found that when we feel the need to look busy just to impress others, it’s actually detrimental to productivity. Another troubling aspect is that the pressure to engage in digital presenteeism impacts people at different levels of the company differently. For software teams, this might mean that junior engineers feel pressured to “perform” and can’t take advantage of the benefits of asynchronous time. Another way to understand why digital presenteeism is happening for your organization is noticing if you have created a performance culture for remote teams. Performance culture occurs when people feel like they’re not allowed to share authentically and learn together, and that their time with teammates is mostly just a time when they need to “prove” their worth or defend. In a performance culture, people still learn and get work done–but they also collaborate less, share less, and struggle more. And this can be especially hard for software developers working remotely. Active learning is a key part of writing collaborative code, and when remote work makes this time scarce, “performance” pressure takes valuables time away from your developers.2 Keeping people in “performance culture mode” is anti-psychological safety for developer teams. Research has even suggested it means you can’t successfully have agile practices without shared psychological safety. While it might be tempting to think you’ve increased collaboration by insisting on “digital presenteeism,”teams that feel forced to choose performance over authentic work time will stop having honest and real conversations about their work. When you demand an image of constant productivity, what you’re actually doing is destroying feedback loops, eviscerating team culture, and inevitably reducing productivity.

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