Ågren P, Knoph E, Berntsson Svensson R
Empir Softw Eng 27 (6) 121 [2022-06-22; online 2022-06-22]
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many agile practitioners had to transition into a remote work environment. Despite remote work not being a new concept for agile software practitioners, the forced or recommended nature of remote work is new. This study investigates how the involuntary shift to remote work and how social restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic have affected agile software development (ASD), and how agile practitioners have been affected in terms of ways of working. An explanatory sequential mixed methods study was performed. Data were collected one year into the COVID-19 pandemic through a questionnaire with 96 respondents and in-depth semi-structured interviews with seven practitioners from seven different companies. Data were analyzed through Bayesian analysis and thematic analysis. The results show, in general, that the aspects of ASD that have been the most affected is communication and social interactions, while technical work aspects have not experienced the same changes. Moreover, feeling forced to work remotely has a significant impact on different aspects of ASD, e.g., productivity and communication, and industry practitioners' employment of agile development and ways of working have primarily been affected by the lack of social interaction and the shift to digital communication. The results also suggest that there may be a group maturing debt when teams do go back into office, as digital communication and the lack of psychological safety stand in the way for practitioners' ability to have sensitive discussions and progress as a team in a remote setting.